June 25, 2018
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Green Light: Waste Audit

"CUMTD" "MTD" "Administration" "Operations"

MTD’s Administration and Operations Facility is located at 1101 E. University Ave.

Setting a Baseline

MTD’s Administration and Operations Facility in Urbana recently took a test. This facility, as it so aptly named, houses the departments at MTD that manage our operations and administrative needs. A majority of the District’s 325-plus employees work out of these offices or report here daily.

Over 200 employees pass through the Administration and Operations doors daily, located at 1101 East University Avenue. Needless to say, we produce a lot of waste. But simultaneously, we have the opportunity to minimize our waste and increase our recycling impacts.

So that’s why we registered for the test, a waste audit, which was administered by Green Purpose. A local membership-based business, Green Purpose helps businesses and organizations achieve their sustainability goals by providing customized waste and recycling programs. They aim to improve an organization’s operating efficiency, maximize resource recovery efforts, and help lower overall collection costs.

MTD has enrolled our Administration and Operations Building in Green Purpose’s Zero Waste Program, which aims at ensuring that 100% of recyclables are truly being recycled. MTD is working to achieve the highest possible percentage of Zero Waste compliance.

Getting Dirty

We kicked off these efforts in early June 2014 with a full-scale waste audit. Before making changes to our current recycling system, MTD is first quantifying the various components of our waste/recycling stream, evaluating the effectiveness of our current recycling efforts, and identifying all areas where improvements are required. This will hopefully make the goals we set in the future attainable and measurable.

"Green Purpose" "waste audit"

Thanks to Green Purpose’s Sustainability Interns for sorting and auditing MTD’s waste and recycling!

The Green Purpose auditors analyzed trash and recycling from MTD’s Administration and Operations Facility for one week. Employees were not informed and no special instructions were given to change habits. Trash was collected in special clear plastic bags and delivered to the Green Purpose facility in Champaign for sorting.

Recyclable samples were sorted into six categories: cardboard, paper, plastics, aluminum cans, and glass. Waste and recyclables were collected, sorted, and weighed during the waste audit. The results of the audit are as follows:

Trash: 146 pounds

  • Trash in trash: 116 pounds
  • Recyclables in trash: 30 pounds
    • Mixed paper: 17 pounds
    • Plastics: 10 pounds
    • Glass: 2 pounds
    • Aluminum: less than 1 pound
    • Cardboard: none

Recycling: 145 pounds

  • Mixed paper: 88 pounds
  • Trash found in recyclables: 38 pounds
  • Cardboard: 12 pounds
  • Plastics: 4 pounds
  • Glass: 2 pounds
  • Aluminum: less than 1 pound

Total amount of waste (trash + recycling) = 291 pounds

After completing the audit, Green Purpose put together a report that will be used to help establish the baseline data for material generation, examine any existing issues that may threaten the success of an improved recycling program, and also give suggestions for ways to address any concerns that were raised.

Over 20% of the materials in our waste samples were recyclable, while over 25% of the materials in the recyclables were trash. Clear areas for improvement!

Making the Grade

Zero waste compliance report:

  • Pounds of waste generated per person: Grade = A
  • Percentage of material in waste stream that is recyclable or compostable: Grade = C
  • Percentage of materials that is recycled vs. thrown away and contamination percentage of recyclable trash: Grade = C

Green Purpose gave MTD several recommendations for improving recycling levels at our Administration and Operation Facility. We will begin moving forward with these recommendations right away!

About Amy Snyder

Amy Snyder is the Customer Service Manager at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. She writes and manages content for this blog, The Inside Lane, as well as the social media pages for CUMTD.
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2 Responses to Green Light: Waste Audit

  1. Maybe this audit will spur Urbana’s leaders to adopt a pay-as-you-throw trash pickup service which has resulted in substantial increases (usually around 35%-40%) in recycling rates for those towns and cities across the US have adopted it.

  2. Amy Snyder says:

    That’s an interesting concept and a tremendous turnaround. Thanks for your thoughts, Ken, and thanks for reading this post.

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Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
1101 East University Avenue
Urbana, IL 61802-2009
(217) 384-8188
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