The goal of this project was to bring UCSC’s McHenry Library as close to being a zero waste facility as possible. There were a number of basic necessities for effective waste reduction missing from McHenry Library which this project sought to produce. These included: data on the composition of the waste streams, a comprehensive waste collection system equipped to accommodate sorted material streams, and active conversations between the various actors involved in waste management at UCSC. To these ends, various activities were undertaken, such as: a waste assessment and follow-up report; coordinating with various stakeholders to try to implement a waste management system that can accommodate waste materials sorted as we see fit; conducting informal surveys of library patrons; and assisting with various related projects that contribute to the grand evolution of UCSC’s waste system that we need before much real change can happen at McHenry Library.
When we did the waste assessment, we found that the library’s waste stream (as a whole, including the cafe) is 52% trash, 21% compost, and the rest recycle (with subdivisions of mixed recycle, paper recycle, and cardboard). However, if all that material was sorted into the correct category, the total waste stream would be 6% trash, 61% compost (including paper towels), and the rest recycle. Other outcomes from this project so far include: connecting the Global Village Cafe to the purchase of new waste bins for the library; an informative "waste station" behind the counter of the GVC; knowledge of what makes proper waste disposal difficult for patrons of the library (confusion, lack of time/motivation, insufficient access to proper waste bins); an agreement with the Marina Waste Management facility to take increased levels of compostable wares and paper in our compost load; improved relations between Grounds Services and various campus waste stakeholders; and a report of the McHenry Waste Assessment that aims to describe our methodology, present our data, and outline next steps for the project.