Dumpster Diving [Waste Audit] at Columbia’s Government Center

Volunteers form The Missouri Scholars Academy conducted a waste audit at City Hall on Monday, June 20, 2016. The waste audit was a team effort organized by Volunteer Programs in cooperation with the Solid Waste division of the Public Works department.

A waste audit is a random sample of a typical day’s trash that ends up, ultimately, in our landfill. The goal of the waste audit was to discover how much recyclable or composting material ended up in the trash. It was a good way to get a an idea of where improvements need to be made in recycling at the city’s government center.

Without any prior notice, a single day’s worth of trash from City Hall was sifted through, sorted, and measured. Here’s what was discovered:

— Food waste made up 23 percent of all waste collected! In an ideal situation, that food waste would be composted.

— City employees need to improve their habits when it comes to disposing of their #1-7 plastics. Thirty-seven percent more containers go to the landfill than are recycled.

— With minimal effort a 100 percent recycle rate for fiber can be achieved.

— Seventy-five percent of the material was in the right place—the trash!