Laurier Food Services spearheads Zero Waste Bin pilot project

Laurier Food Services, in partnership with Laurier’s Sustainability Office, has created a zero-waste bin pilot project that currently sits in the Terrace Food Court to help Laurier students properly get rid of their food waste.

“We were definitely influenced by the sustainable impact of Carleton University because they have a very large waste bin themselves, so we wanted to integrate that into the Laurier community and start to decrease our carbon footprint here,” said Nicolette Tsafantakis, marketing coordinator for Laurier Food Services.

“We realized that the Terrace has a lot of high traffic and it is the main place for students to get and get dining options, so because of all of those potions a lot of waste is produced from these locations.”

Carleton University had an audit to confirm their zero-waste status in their food court, training their staff sustainably and even introducing a recycling ambassador program at the school to help promote sustainability which Laurier hopes to achieve as well.

“We have the specific waste items that the Terrace produces, the food packaging, displayed on the zero-waste bin wall so that you can properly identify which waste stream your waste would go into,” Tsafantakis said.

“We worked together, it’s a collaboration project with the sustainability office and the students’ union. The three of us together have planned the bin.”

When it comes to recycling, an entire load of compost or recycling will be thrown into a landfill more than 30 per cent is made up of incorrectly sorted or dirty items, or if the percentage is between 15 and 30, Laurier will be charged a fee.

“The items are displayed above the appropriate waste stream channels, every so often we will have a EcoHawks volunteer or one of our promotion team students at the bin and our process is basically tracking user behaviour of the bin,” Tsafantakis said.

“We will track if a user go up to the bin and know which channel to use, where to put their waste, did they not know and need help, did they just guess and walk away, we’re tracking behaviour and often times people don’t look up and know where their waste is going.”

Laurier has a standard for sustainability, being named Ontario’s most sustainable campus in 2017 and having the Lazaridis Hall building certified LEED gold. The sustainability office also held it’s first ever zero waste week earlier in the year to promote waste reduction on campus.

“Eventually we are looking into creating zero waste bins around campus closer to other food service locations so that it’s not just at the Terrace, so the science building and Bricker academic will need one because we do have two locations there,” Tsafantakis said.

“The one rule of thumb with recycling, what we need to get across to the community, is the fact that before you recycle you must wash your items. If not, the rest of the bin becomes contaminated and cannot be used. That’s why we have our sink as the first step in the zero-waste bin.”

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