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Reducing waste 2019: Rolling out recycling for everyone

Wednesday 27 March 2019 7:55am

waste-bins-image
Property Services Division Waste and Recycling Manager Graham Musgrave with one of the new 'precycler' containers and colour-coded bins. Staff can pop their rubbish into their precycler bin, and then make one trip to the nearest waste station. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

All staff will get the chance to help reduce the amount of waste the University sends to landfill and boost recycling under a system that has just been piloted on parts of the Dunedin campus.

Rubbish bins at people’s desks have been replaced with desk-top ‘precycler’ containers – for paper, cans and food waste – in a pilot that started in the Otago Business School, the redeveloped St David II building and the AskOtago hub in the Central Library.

Each person delivers their own waste to a ‘station’ of colour-coded bins. Every floor has at least one station, made up of a bin each for paper, glass, co-mingled waste (plastic, aluminium and tin) and general waste, Property Services Division Waste and Recycling Manager Graham Musgrave says.

The cleaners keep the waste streams separated, taking the waste from the bin stations to outside skips, which are each designated to specific types of waste.

Until now, cleaners have been emptying each staff member’s rubbish bins and staff have had recycling options that were less visible and accessible.

Roll out

The pilot finished at the end last year so now the recycling system will roll out to the new Faculty of Dentistry Clinical Services Building (where patients are treated) in Great King Street.

Planning is also underway to select up to 30 more buildings to start using the system this year and over time it will extend to cover the entire University, including its other campuses.

This system has been created by New Zealand company Method, which says it spent three years researching and prototyping office recycling solutions.

Hard yards

The change represents years of work for Mr Musgrave.

In his quietly determined and always gentlemanly way, Mr Musgrave’s drive to ensure waste is handled in the best way possible started when he was in the role part-time, by getting all the paper-based records changed to electronic files.

Once that was done, he could easily see the locations of 1500 rubbish bins that are both inside and outside buildings, which includes 135 document destruction bins and 140-odd outdoor collection points for everything from cardboard to waste, along with a host of other information.

Having a database to analyse was invaluable while he was investigating more recycling opportunities and for creating a contract with Waste Management from 1 March, though that company also started dealing with the University’s recycling in January.

The new contract with Waste Management will mean the University has only one company dealing with most of its waste, making it much easier to track how much waste is being produced, where, and whether it is going to landfill or being recycled.

Because Waste Management weighs every skip it empties, the University will see the statistics for each building.

Then, the Waste Minimisation Coordinator the company is employing will help educate those areas about recycling possibilities. That co-ordinator will mostly be co-located with Mr Musgrave and an assistant on the Dunedin campus.

Property Services Division Director Dean Macaulay says that “Graham is one of the most dedicated technicians I have had the pleasure of working with. His drive and determination to minimise waste to landfill and educate users on the benefits of recycling is something we should all aspire to”.

Head of Sustainability Dr Hilary Phipps says Otago has set the ambitious target of halving its waste to landfill by 2021, compared to the 2012 baseline.

As the University is also working to become a zero waste institution, access to recycling had to become more visible on campus.

The University also wants to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags, which this new approach helps do because they will no longer line individual rubbish bins at desks, Dr Phipps says.

The Property Services Division is part of Otago's Operations Group, which has three top priorities:

Enable – the University to achieve its visions and mission
Engage – with our students, each other, our customers and externally
Experience – of our students, our customers, and externally to be outstanding