GUSA Audit reveals problems with recycling procedures in dorms
The Georgetown University Student Association, with help from EcoAction and Georgetown Sustainability Initiative, investigated recycling at Darnall Hall and Reynolds Hall last Saturday in order to create a “Roadmap to Improve Recycling in Georgetown Residences,” according to a press release sent to students earlier this week. The goal is to have this roadmap delivered to relevant members of the Georgetown administration and displayed publicly by the end of November.
“The audit was part of an effort to help reach the university’s sustainability goals and to support students’ sustainability priorities,” Sustainability Coordinator in the Office of the Vice President Audrey Stewart said.
The groups discovered that improvements on recycling are necessary, such as clear labeling and educating residents, as many of the bins were “contaminated,” meaning waste was placed in the wrong receptacle.
The exact percentages of contamination are not yet available, but the school’s goal for this year is to “divert at least 60% of Georgetown’s waste for recycling, compost, and reuse,” Stewart said. This increase would keep the school on track to raise this number by 5% each year since the school set the goal in 2009.
A lack of proximity between trashcans and recycling bins, as well as poor labeling of cans, can lead to contamination, according to Erin Auel (COL ’14), GUSA Secretary of Sustainability. She added that these problems can complicate recycling procedures for maintenance staff as well, contributing to the problem. She hopes to use the recycling bins at Whole Foods as models to mention in the roadmap.
“It was clear from our initial observations that while many students are recycling properly, there are still many more items in our waste stream that can be diverted from the trash into a more productive end purpose,” Stewart said.
The groups did a “visual audit” on three floors in each of the dorms, while doing a “thorough audit” on one floor of each, measuring the waste in all of the trash rooms and receptacles.