Reducing Waste: A Technical and Behavioural Approach
December 12, 2018 | Lisa Chapman
Last Tuesday (November 27, 2018), the Regional Sustainability Initiative hosted an event at Borealis Grille & Bar entitled “Reducing Waste: A Technical and Behavioural Approach.” The sold-out event was a great success, featuring two speakers with first-hand experience in implementing waste reduction strategies in their organizations.
Ben Dunbar, the Manager of Waste Operations at AET Group Inc., provided an overview of waste audits for industrial and commercial companies. Waste audits allow organizations to quantify and characterize the waste generation of their operations. Audits are useful in almost any area of business operations, from considering the facility’s activities as a whole to taking targeted approaches to specific functional areas. Organizations may be interested in performing waste audits to review their service contracts with waste processors, identify opportunities for cost savings, detect inefficiencies in their waste processing procedures, or meet regulatory requirements or environmental directives.
Andrea Bale, the Sustainability Engagement Coordinator at the University of Waterloo, spoke about the success that the University has had in reducing their waste through both behavioural and technical approaches. Community-based social marketing, a five-step approach to identifying and overcoming barriers to sustainable behaviours, was used to understand the specific obstacles students and employees faced when dealing with waste. It was found that convenience in bin location and design, consistency in signage and bin placement, and clarity in signage were key areas for improvement. This information was used to develop the Zero Waste UW Action Plan, which includes initiatives that aim to enhance campus engagement and training, maximize recycling, capture organics, and expand reuse. By 2035, University of Waterloo hopes to become a zero-waste campus, with a 90% or above diversion rate.
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