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Debec

Elementary
School: Waste
Audit Summary
October 23nd, 2013
The Gaia Project
270 Rookwood Ave
Fredericton, NB
E3B 2M2

1 (506) 442-9030
www.thegaiaproject.ca
contact@thegaiaproject.ca
Debec Elementary School: Waste Audit Summary
A summary of the results from the waste audit conducted on October 23rd, 2013.

Copyright 2013 The Gaia Project. Last updated on October 23rd, 2013.
Commercial reproducton of The Gaia Project materials is prohibited without prior writen permission.

The Gaia Project is a charitable organizaton dedicated to providing project-based learning opportunites in
the areas of energy, environment and sustainable engineering.
We develop projects, provide professional development, technical support and ongoing project support for
teachers and students. Our projects aim to incorporate three key principles, which symbolise our focus on
realistc environmentalism.
1. Data-Informed Decisions We want students to be able to explain why, and quantfy the efect of
each decision they made along the way to their fnal soluton.
2. Economic Assessments We expect students to be able to assess the cost efectveness of their so-
lutons, and be able to optmize their projects with limited budgets.
3. Environmental Impact and Lifecycle Assessments We need students to take a holistc view to their
projects. This means looking at their projects from cradle to grave, as opposed to just examining the
use phase, and acknowledging that greenhouse gas reducton is not the only environmental issue at
stake.
For more informaton, please visit www.thegaiaproject.ca
The Gaia Project
270 Rookwood Ave
Fredericton, NB
E3B 2M2
Canada
1 (506) 442-9030
contact@thegaiaproject.ca

The Gaia Project is supported by donatons and grants from:
NB Power
EcoActon Community Funding ProgramEnvironment Canada
Environmental Trust FundGovernment of New Brunswick
Saint John Energy
The McCain Foundaton
The Harrison McCain Foundaton
PromoScience ProgramNatonal Science and Engineering Research Council

Front Cover Credits
Wheelie BinsCaledonia Lane photo by Geof Wilson under a Creatve Commons BY-ND 2.0 Licence


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Overview
The Gaia Project collaborated with Grade 4 and
5 students at Debec Elementary School to
conduct a waste audit on October 23rd, 2013.
The process, results, and recommendatons are
detailed herein.
The Process
The Gaia Project and Debec Elementary
students started of the morning talking about
energy, consumpton and the waste hierarchy
reduce, reuse and recycleand why each of
these are important, and how they might relate
to the waste audit we were planning. We
discussed what kinds of things they would
typically fnd in the classroom garbage cans,
and used this to decide on sortng classes in
which to separate the waste.
Sorting classes
We decided on 6 sortng classes:
Returnable drink containers (included
milk containers)
Recyclable plastcs
Paper and cardboard
Compostable material
Garbage
Metals
Collecting the Garbage
The custodial staf collected all of the garbage
at the school on October 22nd , bagged it and
placed it outside for us. Each bag of waste was
labelled according to its locaton at the school.
It was decided to sort each of the following
locatons for garbage collecton as follows:
Kindergarten/Grade 1
Grade 2/3
Grade 4/5
Staf/Ofce
Washroom
To evaluate the efectveness of recycling at the
school, paper/cardboard recycling and
returnable drink containers were also collected
and weighed separately.
Students were divided into groups, and gloves
were provided to all students along with a
safety orientaton. Groups then opened the
bags and sorted its contents.
We subsequently weighed the contents of each
sortng category at the end of each sortng
session. The data from each group was entered
into an excel spreadsheet so that we could
build a picture of how much waste the school
produces in a day from each of the six sortng
classes. The results are detailed below.



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Results
You can fnd the actual weight from each
sortng class (our raw data) in Table 1 in the
Appendix. The total percentage of waste by the
various sortng categories can be seen in
Graphs 1 & 2. Graph 1 shows waste by type,
excluding the recycling. Graph 2 shows waste
by type, and includes the collected recycling.
Charts summarizing the waste audit by grade
and locaton can be found in the Appendix.
Finally, the amount of waste collected and
sorted into each category has been projected
forward to provide an estmate of the waste
produced on an annual basis.
Using the assumpton of 195 school days a year,
the annual projected amount of total waste is
2,500 kg. The break down of waste can be
found in Table 2 in the Appendix. These are
very rough estmate of the total waste the
school produces each year.
Summary
Through the process of measuring how much
and what type of waste at Debec Elementary
School it was discovered that (Graph 1):
36% of the waste was compostable
material.
41% of the waste could have been
recycled. This includes:
Paper and cardboard (27%)
Recyclable plastcs (9%)
Metals (2%)
Returnable drink containers
(including milk containers)(3%).
Only 23% of the waste was actual
garbage that needed to be there.


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When auditng the recycling that was currently
being done at Debec Elementary, it was
discovered that (Graph 2):
25% of the total waste was being
recycled. This includes:
Paper and cardboard (23%)
Recycled drink containers (2%)
It is estmated that each year Debec Elementary
diverts 625 kg of waste, or 25% of the total
wastes out of the regular garbage, though its
recycling programs for paper, cardboard and
drink containers. Debec Elementary should be
congratulated on a job well done.
If we found ways to divert all of the recyclable/
returnable/compostable materials, Debec
Elementary could reduce their waste by an
additonal estmated 2,050 kg. This would
reduce the total amount of waste produced at
the school to less than 450kg, or by 82%.
Paper and Cardboard
Paper and cardboard recycling is underway at
the school. 53% of the paper and cardboard
collected during the sample period was
diverted for recycling, with the remaining 47%
fnding its way into the waste stream. The
percent of paper waste and recycled paper can
be seen in Graph 3.
The overwhelming majority of the paper found
in the waste stream was found to be coming
from the staf and ofce areas of the school.
These areas accounted for almost 85% of the
paper and cardboard that was not recycled. If
the staf room improved their recycling they
could remove an estmated 420 kg of paper
every school year or 20% of the schools overall
waste.
The percentage of paper waste in Kindergarten
to Grade 3 is almost 0%, and then increases to
3% in Grade 4/5.
Returnable Drink Containers
Currently, 47% of drink containers are being
collected and recycled / returned for a refund,
as seen in Graph 4. This category include milk
containers, for which no recycling program
currently exists, so the number may be lower
than expected. This category is an opportunity
for improvement as an estmated 60kg of waste
could be diverted from landfll annually.
Compostable Material
Thirty percent (36%) of the waste sorted was
compostable material, comprising the largest
category of waste produced at the school
(Graph 1). A large porton of this compostable
material was food and wet paper .
The grade 4/5 classrooms represented the

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single largest source of compost within the
school, although the ofce and washrooms
contributed a large porton as well.
Recyclable Plastics
Nine percent (9%) of the waste examined was
recyclable plastc.
The majority of this waste came from the staf /
ofce areas of the schooltargetng these two
areas would divert approximately 40% of the
recyclable plastcs in the school.
Metals
Only 2% of the waste was metal, a few paper
clips and a single coat hanger found in the
Grade 4/5 waste. Classroom-based metals are
most likely a rare event representng a single
large item.
Garbage
Only 23% of the waste we examined actually
needed to go into the garbage. The area of the
school with the largest percentage of waste was
the Grade 4/5 garbage cans, in which a
signifcant number of food wrappers could be
found.
Action Plan
Students worked in groups to come up with a
number of ideas to implement at Debec
Elementary School. A summary of these are
listed below, along with the challenges and
strategy for proceeding.
Composting
Since compost represented 36% of the waste
collected, this would be an area of high impact
on the total amount of waste leaving the
school. However, with the new school opening
in 2014, it was proposed to wait to have a
compostng system implemented at the new
school. Students could brainstorm on how this
would be operated at the new school and what
sort of educaton program would be required to
get it up and running.
Paper Recycling: Staff / Office
Areas
Results indicated that stafrooms are not
recycling paper and cardboard with the same
efectveness as students areas.
Inital steps to increase the rate of paper
recycling in the stafrooms could involve
students in surveying teachers and staf to
determine the barriers to recycling in these
areas and come up with solutons to addressing
them.
Students also suggested weekly monitoring of
recycling bins in these areas to ensure future
compliance.
Paper Recycling: Improving
Recycling Containers
Improving paper recycling would result in an
estmated 8% decrease in total waste. It was
noted that paper recycling containers are not
identcal in every classrooms (these can be as

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simple as a cardboard box). While it may not be
practcal at this tme to implement a unifed
recycling program with the school closing at the
end of this year, several students suggested the
idea of decoratng the recycling containers in
order to draw more atenton to them, with the
goal of increased usage.
Waste Bins: Ratios and Locations
It was noted that multple garbage cans exist in
certain classrooms. Improving the rato of
recycling containers to garbage cans could help
decrease the waste being produced by the
school. When paired with an awareness
campaign led by students, this increased
recycling bin rato could help reduce the
amount of waste sent to landfll.
Accessibility of recycling containers and
garbage cans can play a large role in
encouraging behaviour change. Simply by
placing recycling containers in easier to access
areas, and marginally increasing the efort to
use a garbage can (placing a cover, or smaller
hole on top of the can), can have signifcant
impacts in divertng waste to the correct sortng
container.
Adding recycling bins for plastc would remove
of 9% or 170 kg of total waste annually.
Assemblies / Announcements
Students proposed that it would be worthwhile
to share with the rest of the school the results
of the waste audit. An efectve way to do this
would be during the schools monthly
assemblies or through weekly announcements
and reminders.
One Bag Challenge
A fnal idea was based around the concept of a
One Bag Challenge. The goal of this challenge
would be to reduce the total waste that the
school produces in one day to a single bag. The
one-bag challenge allows the students and staf
to have a strong visual target to aim for,
reinforcing the recycling behaviours they have
been learning about. This could be
accomplished by:
Establishing a single day (or week) that is
designated as the challenge day or week.
In the days or weeks preceding the event,
students can provide informaton
sessions / material to their classmates
and their parents about the challenge.
Allow students and staf to present ideas
on how to achieve the one-bag challenge
goal.
Bringing food in containers
Only taking food to school you will
eat
The One Bag Challenge could be in conjuncton
with a school picnic or other school events.
Summary
Since Debec Elementary will be merging into a
new school in the fall of 2014 , The Gaia Project
suggests that the school focus initally on the
One Bag Challenge and improving the
performance of staf / ofce areas in the
existng paper recycling to have the biggest
impact in a short tme period.
The Gaia Project is excited to collaborate and
assist Debec Elementary School in achieving
these goals.



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Contact Us
If you would like more informaton, we would
be happy to discuss anything in this report. We
will be following up with you in the coming
weeks about moving some of these ideas
forward and it has been a pleasure working
with you.



Andrew Holloway
Technical Director

The Gaia Project
270 Rookwood Ave
Fredericton, NB
E3B 2M2
andrew.holloway@thegaiaproject.ca
1 (506) 442-9030





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Appendix
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