I am the Waste Management Plan Development and Audit Fellow this year. I mainly work on analyzing the waste data and then bring up possible solutions based on current campus waste situation. Achieving zero waste on campus could substantially contribute to the carbon neutrality goal in 2026. Coordinating with Dr. Dripps, our waste audit team is made up five members. Currently, we only have the waste audit data from 2008 to 2010. Due to the manpower and research focus on previous waste research, the waste audit generated was not very comprehensive.
It is essential to have an accurate analysis of the major waste resources on campus and generate practical suggestions for different students bodies and faculties to eliminate 90 percent of school waste. In order to have a precise and explicit data for future waste audit analysis, we integrate previous waste audit methodology with a more through plan. Basically, we separated the dumpsters around campus into eight different categories and made a protocol about which trash go to which waste stream. This four weeks long comprehensive waste audit will be implemented seasonally as benchmark for further analysis. Compare to other schools’ waste audit that mainly focuses on the residential or institutional waste, Furman’s waste audit plan includes both wastes from residential and institutional. Moreover, the specific categories of waste resources could take different students bodies and lifestyle into consideration. Targeting those varied waste streams in spatial differences, I am able to conclude and customize specific suggestions to eliminate waste. Those targeting suggestions would be more efficient and practical than the general suggestion to the entire campus as whole. If our waste audit method works well on Furman, it can be widespread other, similar-sized, liberal arts schools first and then bigger schools to help them achieve zero waste as well.
I am really excited to see the outcome of this waste audit plan. From brainstorming to researching other schools’ waste audit plan to customizing Furman’s unique one, our waste team always tries to figure out the best way to design the plan and arrange our next steps. During the discussion process, we encounter a host of perplexing issues and difficulties. As researchers, we go through wide range of journal articles and discuss among teammates and professors to generate the solutions. This kind of real-life research and learning pattern equip me with better learning experience and different perspectives on sustainability.