The University of Manitoba’s office of sustainability is preparing to conduct a broad-scaled waste audit and organic waste processing feasibility study after receiving a $40,000 provincial grant this summer.
The project funding was granted through the provincial waste reduction and pollution prevention (WRAPP) fund. The WRAPP fund assists projects that aim toward waste reduction, pollution prevention, and integrated waste management practices.
Sustainability engagement coordinator Anna Weier said in an email the grant money will go directly toward hiring an external coordinator to conduct an audit and feasibility study at both the Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses.
After the successful approval of the contract in October, the project is expected to swing into full gear the first week of November, with the waste audit due for completion Nov. 18.
The waste audit is a comprehensive review of the refuse coming from both campuses over a 48-hour period. Approximately 10 metric tons of garbage and five metric tons of recycling will be sorted through over two weeks.
The organic waste feasibility study will examine the collection, pickup and delivery methods, and composting of organics produced on campus.
Auditors “will be doing an assessment of the organics in our waste streams. They will consider different collection methods and compost methods,” Weier said.
“For instance, we would like them to look at the cost and feasibility of doing in-vessel composting, but they will provide us with other options as well.”
Weier noted that the University of Manitoba Students’ Union, through its restaurant enterprises in University Centre, is already collecting food waste from its kitchens and composting through Progressive Waste Solutions. A handful of offices also collect and manage their own organic waste separately, she said.
Retired director of the campus sustainability office at the University of Winnipeg Mark Burch said that the waste audit and organic waste processing feasibility study is a step in the right direction.
“I think it is important,” he said. “Since the 1970s, we have talked about closing the loop on how we use materials in the society and in the economy, and recovering them through recycling is a valuable thing to do.”
“We did a waste audit annually at the U of W at the same time that I was working on just reducing waste volumes at source, so looking a lot more at how we could minimize consumption overall and how we might reuse materials or equipment somewhere before we dispose them.”
“I think it is important and a very good step [but] I think we are 30 years too late.”
Student volunteer opportunities are available. Anyone interested should contact the office of sustainability. Two waste audit information sessions are also being hosted on Nov. 8 and 16 at 2 p.m. in room 210 of the Helen Glass Centre.