Are Wharton Students Wasteful?

Wharton Student Sustainability Advisory Board uncovers the truth       

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In 2016, Wharton brought in Niche Recycling to conduct a waste audit on Wharton, including Huntsman, Steinberg-Dietrich, and Joe’s Café, as they have done in years past. The school wanted to have a better understanding of waste in order to improve recycling programs and waste diversion processes.

So, what did they find out about our habits?

  1. We dispose of a lot of food.  In Huntsman, food made up roughly 30% of total waste.
  2. We don’t know what can go in the recycling bin.  Over recent years, the amount of contamination, or putting non-recyclable waste into the recycling container, has increased.
  3. Our bad habits are lowering the amount that Wharton can recycle.  At a certain level of contamination, vendors classify recycling as trash and reject it.  In Steiny D and Joe’s, 18% of recycling is reclassified as trash.
  4. When in doubt, we put things in the trash. Six out of every ten containers that could be recycled at Wharton are discarded as trash.

Want to become more informed?

Study the images below for a minute.  Chobani for breakfast on-the-go?  Recycle.  Sweet Green salad for lunch? Recycle.  But the Cheez-It bag you grab for an afternoon snack needs to go to the trash.

The Wharton Student Sustainability Board is working together with the school to figure out the best way to educate students while still conforming to policies, like no signage in the classroom.  For MBAs, the plan is to target Pre-Term when students are first introduced to the buildings.  A short speech to educate first-years plus signage for the MGMT 610 week to reinforce habits would improve awareness and behavior.

The Board is also tackling other issues to improve the sustainability of our school. One initiative being piloted is composting.  The first step is to place a bin outside of the MBA Café to test viability.  We are also working with Student Life to make events more ‘green.’  As Follies duly criticized, the water bottle situation is out of control and high on the priority list.

Maybe one day in the future, at the Big Idea, we will be hearing ideas for sustainable businesses rather than pregnant cows.

The Wharton Student Sustainability Advisory Board formed this winter.  It is made up of 7 Wharton students, both MBA and undergrad, and overseen by David Mazzocco, Associate Director of Sustainability and Projects for Wharton Operations.

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