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Increasing waste diversion

Expect to see more waste and recycling bins like this one, in the Biosciences Complex, popping up across campus.

The Queen’s University community collectively produced 3,434 metric tons of waste and recyclable material on campus last year, according to reports from waste hauling company Green for Life. That's enough garbage to fill a swimming pool in the Athletic and Recreation Complex (ARC) eight and a half times.

And nearly 2,000 tons of that – about five pools' worth – heads straight to the landfill.

Physical Plant Services believes we can do better. Currently, 57 per cent of the waste produced on campus heads straight to the landfill. The goal is to reduce that ratio to 50 per cent by this spring by diverting an additional seven per cent of waste.

There are a number of new initiatives – big and small – getting underway this year to help Queen's reach this goal. The largest initiative, set to begin by the end of the year, is an expansion of organics recycling on campus. While you can currently compost your apple core or salad leftovers in places like the Macintosh-Corry Hall cafeteria, green bin recycling will soon be available on the first floors of all Queen’s buildings. This expanded collection will join the organics collection programs at all campus dining rooms and retail food outlets, as well as the volunteer office organics program and public collections in a few main campus buildings.

Additionally, Physical Plant Services has distributed battery collection boxes across campus, supplementing the existing battery collection program, and is adding a new web portal for furniture exchange to help departments exchange campus assets – bringing a modern touch to their existing furniture recycling program. You can also expect to see additional signs helping you find and sort your recyclable material, more regular public communications, additional recycling bins including outdoor bins, and an online lookup tool to help you determine your disposal options for different kinds of waste.

“Sustainable practices benefit us all, and each one of us has the opportunity every day to make positive choices which benefit our environment,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “The expansion of organics recycling, along with our many other recycling and waste diversion initiatives, is just another way Queen's can make a difference by contributing to a healthier planet, while also meeting our legislative requirements.”

So how can you get involved? Llynwen Osborne (Artsci'94), Recycling Coordinator in Physical Plant Services, says getting started can be as simple as using re-usable coffee cups, bottles, and bags. If you need to print something, make sure you are using both sides of the paper. And, of course, check back to the Sustainability Office website for suggestions, ideas, and opportunities to help keep Queen’s green.

“We understand achieving that goal of 50 per cent waste diversion means providing people with both the information they need to make positive choices and the opportunity to take part," says Ms. Osborne. "We are hopeful these new initiatives will bring fresh awareness to the importance of waste diversion for our entire community.”

To learn more about waste diversion at Queen’s, visit www.queensu.ca/sustainability.