In the previous project I collected 4 weeks of my single-use-plastic trash and I had managed to reach amazing results in reducing my waste but what about my school, Willem de Kooning Academy?

The trash cans at Willem de Kooning Academy are ‘undemanding’. You throw everything into the same bin, except for paper – the school provides baskets for paper waste on every floor. Still, I was very curious if these boxes were used all the time.

Therefore, I had analysed the waste that has been created in three days on the ground floor in Blaak building. By separating the trash I could physically visualise the data and see, how many litres of the trash was recyclable, compostable or is solid waste.

Willem de Kooning Academy allowed me to collect 3 days of trash at the ground floor of the Blaak building. I was not allowed to collect a whole day of trash from the whole school due to their contract with the waste collection service.

The ground floor of the Blaak building is very popular. It is the most visited place by me since the print studio is on this floor. On the planning and reservations website of WDKA I could see that in the 3 days that I collected the waste, 400 students had lessons. This number does not take in account the people passing through the are or using it outside their scheduled time.

In the three days I collected 720 liters of waste. By going to school every night at 21:30 to collect the waste before the cleaning crew in the morning could do that. After the three days it was time to separate the trash and see what we found.

From the 720 liters that was collected for 3 days, only 10% was compostable. Which is a very good sign that shows that the students don’t produce a lot of food waste.

70% of the trash could be recycled. Think of paper, plastic, glass or cans. That is 504 liters of materials that could be re-used or recycled for something else, even within school for an art project.

19% was solid waste. Things such as drinking cups, no they are not recyclable because of the plastic layer on the inside.

1% is unknown. This one precent were copper wires, USB stick and headphones.

There are plenty of inspirational people and motivation from them. While doing this project I have definitely realised that students and teachers talk so often about sustainability but in reality, all the trash goes in the same trashcans. But I also see tons of solutions.

First of all, I hope that the data I have collected will support my notion that we indeed should separate trash within the school. The university, hospitals, museums and even IKEA is separating the trash. WdKA could start by separating trash only in a few busy places to see how it is working out. After that, we could expand the different trashcans to all over the school.

If the school would like to go diehard zero waste, they even could set up a compost project on the rooftop where we could bring our leftovers to create soil from it. The soil could be sold or used by the students.

It all sounds very idealistic and circular but I truly believe there are things that could be done better to create a more inspiring and sustainable school environment for the students of Willem de Kooning Academy.

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