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A case study of an institutional solid waste environmental management system

An institutional solid waste environmental management system (SW-EMS) developed and implemented at the Whiteshell Laboratories of Atomic Energy Canada Limited in Pinawa, Canada, has been reviewed. The case study demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of a simple, low-cost SW-EMS. In 1994, the institution launched a Go Green in the Workplace Programme. First, a waste audit was conducted to assess waste minimization opportunities and to measure the amount of waste generated at the institution. New waste minimization initiatives were then put in place and a second audit was conducted in 1996. A new audit methodology, using visual assessment units, reduced the cost of measuring the waste materials. These units were developed for each material and then used to measure the amount of waste being generated. Weight or volume units were not used in the audit. Results of the audits showed an increase in recycled units, from 3% in 1995 to 71% in 1996. The total units of waste generated increased by 29% in 1996. This was due to a 108% increase in the number of cardboard boxes in 1996. Overall the findings suggest the SW-EMS was successful in significantly reducing the waste sent to the landfill. The success was due in a large part to the involvement of all the stakeholders during the initial waste audit. This SW-EMS also demonstrated what can be achieved with limited staff and financial resources. The new audit methodology, however, did not allow for easy comparability to other institutions because the units are site specific. As most waste reduction targets are based on weight, it was recommended that a study be completed to determine the weight of each of the visual assessment units. The data could be used to convert the visual assessment units into weight equivalents. Further recommendations for improvement to the SW-EMS were: (1) a new audit strategy should be developed that accounts for the variability of the waste generation data; (2) the mixed waste stream should be characterized; (3) an on-site composting strategy should be implemented; and (4) the Purchasing and Accounting departments should become more involved in the programme. 1998 Academic Press Limited http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Environmental Management Elsevier
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