Let's EcoSort It Case Study - February 2020
This project has been running since June 2017. Now, after nearly three years of progress and close collaboration with University staff, we take a look at the improvements brought about by the new system so far, as it continues to roll out.
Let's EcoSort It has increased recycling rates as well as staff engagement in sustainable practices; when presented with a central bank of assorted recycling bins, staff are more likely to select the correct bin. Previously, individual desk bins didn’t encourage recycling - they represented the quickest, closest and most convenient option as the default, i.e. everything into a general waste bin under the desk.
Let's EcoSort It has created efficiencies for Site Services’ Domestic Supervisor staff in time emptying individual bins, enabling them to reallocate time to cleaning University buildings. With limited Site Services resources available, it’s essential that staff can work to complete their many tasks in the time they have. We have placed the banks of EcoSorts along common routes for staff, on the way to exits, lavatories and kitchens.
In addition, getting up to use the bins gives staff an opportunity to have a break from the screen and sitting at their desk, often cited as aiding productivity and workplace wellbeing. The office clutter of individual bins is reduced as well as consumption of bin liners. Staff are more engaged with what they are throwing away, which also aids GDPR compliance as the risk of putting potentially confidential data and information into the general waste bin is removed.
The scheme has been put into 78% of buildings in the University, including the Langford Veterinary Campus. Once installed, the Domestic Supervisors observe and report improved levels of recycling, particularly plastics. The EcoSorts allow them to efficiently empty bins in their buildings, without the repetitive strain of stooping to empty small bins and without visiting numerous individual offices, often having to unlock each one at a time.
This also makes cover work for absent members of cleaning staff much more straightforward as when working in an unfamiliar building they can easily locate a few banks of bins as opposed to dozens of individual bins along many corridors and floors.
Making the improvements to the recycling bins internally has a positive effect on the waste management costs of the external bins; if staff are recycling more, we can reduce collections of costly general waste.
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The average weight of the general waste bins was reduced by 23%, enabling the removal of two of the six general waste bins on site.
Plastics recycling increased by 7%, this is a lightweight material so while the weight has not had as much of change compared to general waste, the volume of the recycling itself has physically significantly increased.
The removal of individual bins from offices has pushed food waste to increase; note this does not mean that staff are wasting more food, it simply means that they are using the food waste recycling caddies in kitchens in the absence of a deskside bins. This is positive as the food waste goes through anaerobic digestion, generating bio energy and fertilisers. We have introduced a second external food waste bin to this site as a result of increased use.
The weights for paper and cardboard remained largely the same post roll out.
We replaced the existing bins with 23 new sets of EcoSorts and upgraded 15 existing sets in student facing areas.