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Waste Material Collection Lab

Marc Ellsworth, Alexis Everland, Gina Fagliarone


Stockton University
Stockton’s removal for solid waste and recycling is through the ACUA--the Atlantic County
Utilities Authority. Collection rates are $50 per ton for trash, while recycling collection is free (D. Wood,
2018). The landfill and recycling center are located on the same site in Egg Harbor Township,
approximately 10.1 miles from Stocktons campus. At this site, trash is put into the landfill which spans
over 100 acres, and recycling is brought to the recycling center where it is sorted and baled. Inactive
portions of the landfill are equipped with a methane collection system where the off-gassing product--
methane--is captured and used to generate electricity with a 50-90% efficiency (Amini, H., and Reinhart,
D., 2011). Although the trash is not sorted into individual materials, only non-food items can be dumped
during daylight hours where food items are dumped at night and covered to prevent bird activity in the
close proximity to Atlantic City Airport. This waste will eventually become buried in layers of clay and
bioplastics and dumped on top of after being covered with grasses to mediate issues relating to erosion
and runoff. This information, along with information about recycling practices, was given from a tour of
the ACUA waste removal facility (2018).
Figure 1.
Figure 1 shows our samples were collected from the lower level of A-D Wing which spans
10,316 square feet and covers about 4% of the academic building; this area is primarily consisting of
mixed classrooms. A major source of our waste was Au Bon Pain, a cafe-type shop with packaged food,
soups, coffee, and bottled beverages. Our waste was primarily post-consumer, while some was disposed
of by Au Bon Pain itself. Three trash cans and three recycling cans were collected and analyzed based on
their contents. Table 1 shows there was a total of 395.5 oz of waste sampled. Overall, 66% of waste was
collected from the trash and 34% was found in the recycling bin. All of our calculated percentages were
determined by weight, since that is the method of pricing for disposal.

Table 1.
Table 2 shows that about 52% of all of the sampled material, whether in the trash or recycling
bins was food waste and about 18% was trash items, such as wax-lined paper soup cups. Compost items
and plastic recyclables followed at 11% each.

Table 2.
The ACUA--and thus Stockton--utilize single stream recycling; this means that all recyclables are
placed in one bin in effort to make recycling easy and improve collection efficiency. The ACUA accepts
almost all plastics with the exception of 5 and 6: polypropylene and polystyrene (Waste Wizard, 2018). It
is important to note that although they accept many plastics, they will not accept them if they are attached
to non-recyclable materials.. This means that even though our recycling samples contained some of the
proper materials, only one plastic bottle would have been recycled because it was the only one with the
non-recyclable lid removed. Aluminum and glass are fairly easy to recycle as they are usually not
combined with other materials, however 50% of our sampled materials were plastics; an additional 9% of
the samples were polypropylene and polystyrene, meaning they could not be recycled on campus. Like
lids, plastic utensils, and plastic straws, these two types of plastic are physically recyclable, however there
are no facilities around the area of Stocktons campus to allow for this to take place. Figure 2-3 show the
contents of our sampled materials
Figure 2 & 3
Table 3 shows that 70.6% of the recyclables could not be recycled by the ACUA and did not
belong in the recycling bins. All aluminum, glass, and paper recyclables were disposed of properly while
plastics and independent recyclables--materials that are recyclable but only at specially equipped
facilities--were disposed of improperly more often than correctly. 60.9% of the items in the trash could
have been recycled.

Table 3.
We considered compostable materials--such as napkins--improperly disposed of whether found in
the trash or recycling as they should be placed in compost bins. Therefore, the amount of correctly
composted waste is unknown.
As mentioned earlier, recycling is sorted and baled into like materials. These bales are sold
primarily to foreign markets, particularly China which purchased 755 million pounds of PET plastic in
2007 (Verespej, 2008). However, more recently this trend has declined due to trade barriers with China
and decreased costs of producing virgin materials, making the recycling industry less profitable
(NAPCOR, 2017).
Overall, 65% of the material was disposed of correctly, while roughly 35% was disposed of
incorrectly.

Clarity in specifications of items that are allowed and disallowed in both trash and recycling bins
would be more effective at increasing the efficiency of waste management. Otherwise, increased
investment in recycling technologies would be needed to sort after collection which has potential to
reduce recycling costs overall (Gradus, R., Nillesen, P., Dijkgraaf, E., et. al., 2017). Along with this
theory is the introduction of composting bins, especially in areas with high food waste and other
compostable materials. In a large scale system like Santiago, Chile, the addition of compost bins
displaced 216,000 metric tons of waste and mitigated the equivalent of 326,000 tons of carbon dioxide
(Zhu, D., Asnani, P.U., Zurbrugg, et. al., 2006). Being that food waste is also a majority of the weight of
trash, this would cut costs in trash removal while creating a useful material that may be utilized by the
community garden or organic farm to improve crop production without the use of synthetic fertilizers
(Horrocks, Curtin, Tregurtha, et.al., 2016); some other options include the reduction of plastics by
introducing reusable utensils and food ware with a rinsing station or a drop-off location for reuse, which
has economic, social, and environmental benefits (Gusmerotti, N., Corsini, F., Borghini, A., et.al., 2018).
A more minor change would be in switching from stocking polypropylene and polystyrene cups and
replacing these with a plastic such as PET which can be recycled by the ACUA easily. Stocking items
that have higher recyclability will improve recycling rates on campus while improving efficiencies of
municipal solid waste removal (Johnson, 2017).
References
ACUA. (2018, September 10). General site tour of recycling and waste removal facilities. ACUA
Environmental Park, Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
Amini, H., and Reinhart, D. (2011). Regional prediction of long-term landfill gas to energy potential.
Waste Management. 31:2020-2026. DOI: 10.1016/j.wasman.2011.05.010
David Wood. (2018, September 16). Personal interview. Supervisor of landscape maintenance.
Stockton University.
Gradus, R., Nillesen, P., Dijkgraaf, E., et. al. (2018). A cost-effective analysis for incineration or
recycling
of Dutch household plastic waste. Ecological Economics. 135:22-28. DOI:
10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.12.021
Gusmerotti, N., Corsini, F., Borghini, A., et.al. (2018) Assessing the role of preparation for reuse in
waste-prevention strategies by analytical hierarchical process: suggestions for an optimal
implementation in waste management supply chain. Environment, Development, and
Sustainability.p:1-20. DOI 10.1007/s10668-018-0160-9.
Horrocks, A., Curtin, D., Tregurtha, C., et.al. (2016). Municipal compost as a nutrient source for organic
crop production in New Zealand. Agronomy. 6(2):35. DOI: 10.3390/agronomy6020035.
Johnson, J. (2017). Study: Labels, glue impact PET bottle recyclability. PLASTIC Technologies, Inc.
28(6):0020.
NAPCOR and The Association of Plastic Recyclers. (2017, October 31). Report on postconsumer PET
container recycling activity in 2016. p:15-18.
New Jersey Geographic Information Network. (2018) Information Warehouse. Accessed September 14,
2018 https://njgin.state.nj.us/OGIS_IW/
Verespej, M. (2008, December 8). PET recycling rate up, but questions loom. Plastics News.
20(40):1-4. Accession: 35867382.
Waste Wizard. (2018). ACUA. Retrieved from http://acua.com/wastewizard/
Zhu, D. P.U. Asnani, Zurbrugg, C., et. al. Improving municipal solid waste management in India. The
World Bank Group. DOI: 10.1596/978-0-8213-7361-3