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A Business School Audit that’s Complete Garbage

UMD's LSBE. Exterior shot of the turnaround area.
April 20, 2017

In conjunction with Earth Week, the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) is conducting a trash audit.

It's scheduled for Thursday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in LSBE’s turnabout, 1318 Kirby Drive. 

The goal of the audit is to determine if waste that could be recycled or composted is being thrown away.

 “Trash audits give us a lot of data– especially information on where we need to ramp-up our education efforts, signage, and outreach around waste reduction,” says Mindy Granley, director of the Office of Sustainability.

 Digging In

Granley’s office will partner with staff from the Natural Resource Research Institute (NRRI) and LSBE’s sustainable management students to sort and weigh the garbage cans’ content.

 “This is entirely campus-based and student led,” says Chris Gass, a waste analysis and recycling intern in the Office of Sustainability.

 The How-to’s

Gass says unbeknownst to the people disposing waste in the building, LSBE’s trash will be collected during the three days leading up to the Thursday, April 20 audit.

Each intact trash bag will be weighed before its contents is sorted into three categories– waste, recycling, and compost. The bags of separated components are then weighed.

After the audit, the data for each bag is analyzed and basic calculation is done to give the percentage waste, recycling, and compost each bag contained.

They hope to have the results of the audit by the end of the school year.

Today’s Lesson

LSBE’s sustainability efforts are based in economics, and this audit is no different. UMD could save $20,000 if its waste was disposed of properly.

Associate Professor Geoff Bell is teaching the sustainable management students who are digging into the audit. He says beyond illuminating disposal habits, he appreciates what this experience offers his classes. “This is an opportunity for experiential learning, to apply their book knowledge. And my students will have a direct impact on how their building functions because the audit has real implications.”

Sustainability Director Mindy Granley echoes this. Students working with her office conducted a trash audit for the Food Court last fall and found out that most of what people were throwing away was actually compostable and recyclable. “Once we identified the most common items disposed of improperly, we implemented education programs to raise awareness about how much is actually compostable in the Food Court."

Another long-term implication, adds Bell, is that his students will always remember the day they sorted garbage.