With reduced landfill space becoming a bigger problem nationwide, waste diversion and reduction are becoming increasingly important. In 2013, Western diverted 50% of its waste from landfill by recycling, reuse and composting. We are aiming even higher now, with a goal to become a Zero Waste campus by diverting over 90% of our waste by 2022.
Western has an extensive recycling program. Batteries and electronic waste, along with common recyclable items, can be taken to recycling stations located on every floor of most buildings. Often, these stations are found near Green Boards (bulletin boards with sustainability updates). Each Green Board has Recycling at Western posters that guide individuals through the sorting of their waste and provides contact information if there are any unique items that need to be disposed of (ex. furniture, hazardous waste, etc.).
Below is a list of important pieces of information everyone should know about in order to ensure proper waste management at Western.
- Recyclable plastics are numbered 1-7. Here at Western, only plastics 1, 2, 4 and 5 are accepted. This is because that is all our waste hauler, BFI, can accept into their system. This means that you need to take extra care when disposing of your plastics. Always check the bottom of your plastic containers to ensure that they are a 1, 2, 4 or 5. All of these plastics, along with glass jars, metal pop cans, aluminum foil, milk and juice cartons and other glass and metals can go into Western’s “Plastics, Cans and Bottles” stream, which is also known as the “Co-Mingled Beverage Containers” stream. Note: Tim Horton’s coffee cups and lids, plastic cutlery and straws are not recyclable at Western.
- Within Western’s “Paper” stream, you can put regular printer paper, newspaper, magazines, post-it notes, envelopes, thin cardboard boxes and toilet paper rolls. Just make sure you collapse all boxes first. Note: Construction paper and tissue paper are not recyclable.
- Collapse all corrugated cardboard and tuck this behind the paper recycling bin. It will be picked up by Western’s caretaking staff.
Approximately half of Western’s garbage that is sent to landfill can be recycled or composted. Waste sent to landfill emits greenhouse gases, polluting the air we breathe and contributing to climate change. This year, let’s work towards reducing the amount of waste Western sends to landfill, save energy, and reduce the amount of emissions we create.
A picture of one of Western’s recycling centers.
A number of specialized items are particularly harmful when they end up in landfill. Read the tips below to find out how to reduce the environmental impact of specialized waste items, and how to recycle them at Western:
Batteries release toxic heavy metals into the air, ground and water when they are thrown into the garbage. Statistics show that batteries account for 88% of mercury and 50% of cadmium in the municipal solid waste stream. Luckily, special disposal practices can be used to mitigate harmful effects.
- To have the biggest influence, reduce energy consumption and use energy efficient appliances to extend the life of batteries.
- Use rechargeable batteries wherever possible. The impact of generating 1 kWh of energy using rechargeable or disposable batteries is comparable to the global warming impacts of driving a car 16 km and 457 km, respectively.
- Discard old batteries in designated bins at recycling stations – almost every floor in every building on campus has one! For more information on battery collection bins and services, contact Client Services at Ext. 83304. If you’re off campus, check out www.recycleyourelectronics.ca to find the nearest location to drop off your batteries.
Electronic waste (e-waste) contains substances that harm the environment when thrown into the garbage. Luckily, special disposal practices can be used to mitigate harmful effects.
- E-waste such as cell phones, laptops and cords release toxic contaminants into the environment. E-waste also contains valuable materials which can be recovered if disposed of properly.
- On campus, e-waste can be left in or beside battery recycling bins. Alternatively, there are several designated drop- office receptacles across campus for e-waste, such as in residences. Contact the Service Centre at Ext. 83304 for assistance if you would like to schedule the pick-up of larger quantities of e-waste.
- If you’re off campus, check out www.recycleyourelectronics.ca to find the nearest location to drop off your electronics.
In most cases, you can take your empty cartridges to various locations where they will be refilled, for a lower price than purchasing a new one. Staff at Western can leave empty cartrdiges with the representative in the office who takes care of the Office Max (Grand & Toy) orders. He/she will ensure they are given to the delivery representative for proper disposal. This helps reduce the environmental impacts of printer cartridges, which can take up to 450 years to decompose in the landfill!
Pharmaceuticals contain substances that harm the environment when they are thrown into the garbage. Special disposal practices can be used to mitigate harmful effects.
- According to Health Canada, incorrect disposal of expired and unused pharmaceuticals in the garbage or toilet is an increasing health concern. Evidence suggests that these substances can cause harm to aquatic species and vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, newborns, and children. If you have leftover prescription and over-the-counter drugs, they can be taken back to the Western On-Campus Pharmacy located in the lower level of the UCC.
If you’re off campus, contact your local pharmacy to see if they have a Medications Return Program.