Brevard Zoo’s Sustainability Team Completes First Waste Characterization Study
By Space Coast Daily // January 28, 2020
Help lessen the zoo's waste output by purchasing a refillable cup at Brevard Zoo dining venues
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Let there be (little) waste! Brevard Zoo’s sustainability team recently finished a waste characterization study—the first of its kind at the Zoo.
This project, which analyzed the waste compositions of various areas of our campus, helped Brevard Zoo identify how much waste they are producing, how much of that is being placed in the correct streams and determine what programs the zoo might implement in the future based on its findings.
Brevard Zoo’s sustainability manager, Sarah Burke, and sustainability intern Caroline Morales spent three weeks in late December and early January sorting through trash and recycling.
Not a glamorous job, perhaps, but one that was imperative in determining a baseline for sustainability at the Zoo and identifying areas for improvement.
They then categorized each item as landfill fodder, compostable material, food waste, plastic, metal or cardboard.
These items were weighed and recorded, then placed back in the bags and discarded. Misplaced items were redirected when needed.
Currently, their compostable and food waste items are being treated as landfill fodder as we do not have more eco-friendly, economical methods of disposal available.
That’s part of what the sustainability team is trying to figure out—if the zoo is producing a lot of compostables or food waste, there may be a need to introduce a third stream.
After sampling 323 pounds of waste, Brevard Zoo came to the results. Of the landfill waste, 95% was accurately placed, meaning just five percent of the items found in this stream should have been placed in recycling.
However, just 69% of the recycling was accurate; this means around a third of what we found in this stream cannot actually be recycled.
What they discovered, overwhelmingly, is that liquids inside plastic bottles heavily contributed to this number.
Their sustainability team will be doing another waste characterization study later in the spring and periodically conducting smaller studies going forward.
In the meantime, you can help them lessen the zoo’s waste output by purchasing a refillable cup at the Brevard Zoo dining venues, making sure that you are placing items in the correct bins and emptying your bottles before recycling them.
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