Last month, five dedicated employees went dumpster diving as part of the OKC Zoo’s first-ever waste audit to make sure its recycling program was being effectively implemented. The “green team” collected trash and recycling from 11 employee areas and performed a biopsy of the recovered materials.
They discovered about two-thirds of the materials deposited in the recycling bins were correctly placed while about one-third was not recyclable. The most commonly misplaced items were plastic bags, food waste and paper towels/tissues.
When they dug into the trash, they found similar results. About two-thirds of the material was properly placed, while about one-third was material that could be recycled like certain plastics, paper and aluminum. They also identified items that could be composted and recycled in the future. A detailed breakdown is below.
Post-audit recommendations included implementing standard containers for sorting/weighing, bag labeling, increased participation and more volunteers for the next waste audit. Other suggestions for improvement were employee education and training on what items are recyclable and how to properly clean and sort recycling.