UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into solid waste accounting Ho, Wayne; Koseoglu, Ata; Lu, David; Yu, Kate


The University of British Columbia is devoting its efforts into having a waste free Vancouver campus as a part of its larger Climate Action Plan to combat global climate change. The Alma Mater Society (AMS) will do its best to assist in this goal at the new Student Union Building (SUB). In order to achieve a waste free SUB as a part of a waste free campus, the AMS needs reliable data on the amount of waste generated and its composition. That is where solid waste accounting comes in. Three different methods of solid waste accounting are investigated and a triple-bottom-line assessment is conducted into each of them. The methods are on-board truck scales, platform scales and hand sorted waste audits. On-board truck scales involves retrofitting UBC Waste Management's garbage trucks with scales using either load cells or air suspension. They allow for metrics to be gathered on waste for other buildings on campus besides the SUB but are relatively expensive, have a larger margin of error than smaller scales and approval would fall under the jurisdiction of UBC and not the AMS. Platform scales are simply scales with a large surface for weighing. They are relatively inexpensive but require more work in weighing and recording the information. Hand sorted waste audits are a full accounting of both composition and weight of waste. They gather useful information of the composition of the solid waste but require the most manpower. Also, waste audits can be used in conjunction with on-board scales or platform scales with little redundancy in the information obtained. Research into the different methods of solid waste accounting was done by analyzing sustainability programs at other Canadian universities. Social assessments were done by debating the possible effects on students and staff. Economic assessments were done by analyzing the labour, equipment purchase, and maintenance costs. Environmental assessments were done by taking into consideration the environmental impacts of manufacturing, shipping and disposal of equipment used in the researched methods of waste accounting. From the research, a conclusion was reached that the most effective methodology for gathering metrics on solid waste was a combination of both industrial platform scales and a regular hand sorted waste audit. The effectiveness of the methodology was deemed on both the triple bottom line assessment and the comprehensiveness of the acquired data. The use of on-board truck scales by UBC Waste Management was concluded to be expensive to purchase and install as well as difficult to implement because it would require approval from UBC. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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