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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A waste audit and directions for reduction at the University of British Columbia Felder, Melissa Anne Juanita


A solid waste audit is designed to determine the quantity and composition of the waste generated in a specific area. The information provided by an audit can help in evaluating waste management practices; such as the efficiency of recycling programs or the feasibility of composting. The literature revealed that many factors complicate a waste audit; the most significant being that waste varies in space and over time. Methodology was developed to address spatial and temporal variation in waste generated at the University of British Columbia for the 1998 year. This methodology was applied to the campus, and resulting data was analyzed to provide recommendations for achieving campus waste reduction goals. To study spatial variability, the campus was partitioned into sixteen different activity areas. Representative samples of waste were collected a minimum of three times from each activity area. Wherever possible, the number of users of the activity area was enumerated during the sample period. Statistically significant differences were found between the waste-per-user values for the sampled activity areas. Existing data on the number of people frequenting activity areas was employed to estimate total waste loads, as the majority of the activity areas (70%) had smaller variations associated with the calculated waste-per-user data sets than with the original waste data sets. The total waste estimated from the experimental design was compared to documented waste values for the year and was found to vary by -18%. Expected differences were attributed to special events, construction waste, and the omission of some activity areas. Other possibilities included spurious events as found in the sampled waste stream, and the under/overestimation of the amount of users for extrapolation. The University has several options available for waste reduction or diversion targets, including enhancing the current recycling program, source reduction of plastic materials, and diverting organic material to composting. The greatest diversion by weight would be accomplished through the diversion of organic material, as it is estimated to make up a substantial 70% of the calculated annual waste stream.

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