Spring 2015 Waste Audit Report

Spring 2015 Waste Audit Results Report

Waste Audit Conducted: Friday, March 20, 2015: 8:30am – 3:30pm

Background: The Denver Waldorf School (DWS) has maintained a recycling program for many years as the main pillar of its waste diversion scheme. Upon moving into the 2100 S. Pennsylvania St. address in the summer 2014, DWS (per the interest and effort of the Peace Group high school club) began offering a compost diversion option on the high school side of the school in the fall of 2014. In the winter of 2014, it was decided that composting should be considered for integration into the school wide waste diversion program. A waste audit was planned for March 20, 2015 with the intention to clarify our current diversion rate, find our potential diversion rate, examine common current errors in diversion and consider diversion by DWS area (administrative, bathrooms, kindergarten/preschool, lower school and high school). The waste audit can be seen as a ‘snapshot’ of our waste in a typical day and the data gathered will be used to more carefully consider an expanded, comprehensive DWS Waste Diversion Plan.

Waste Audit Process: The audit was conducted Friday, March 20, 2015 from 8:30am to 3:30pm (a typical school day). Waste audit ‘sorters’ were: Peace Group volunteers, building and grounds committee chair and member volunteers and the DWS High School Coordinator. The sorters were stationed near the DWS roll off dumpsters (landfill, recycling, compost) and received waste from both class representatives (that brought their class waste to the waste audit station as would have in a typical day) and runners who gathered waste from areas typically dealt with by evening janitorial staff (e.g. bathrooms). Waste was weighed on a bench type scale in kilograms. Upon receiving a bag of waste, it was noted where the waste came from (high school, lower grade, etc…) and what type it was (landfill, compost or recycling). The total weight of the waste was captured prior to sorting. Waste was then sorted (on tarps) into landfill, recycling and compost content to capture content in each area. Each waste type (landfill, recycling, compost) was then weighed post sort to capture actual diversion rate, potential diversion rate and errors in diversion. The DWS waste hauler, Alpine, was consulted with multiple times during the waste audit to clarify acceptability in compost and recycling streams to ensure proper diversion.

  • Notable Audit Items: Key waste audit items of note include:
    ‘To Go’ cups are landfill trash: Most ‘to go’ cups (for coffee and fountain drinks) are landfill trash. The majority of ‘to go’ coffee and fountain drink cups have an ultra thin plastic liner inside that deems the paper of the cup unrecyclable. A ‘bring your own cup’ campaign (especially for the High School student population) could help reduce this waste stream.
  • Consider a quick rinse: Despite the use of a precious resource (water) to rinse recyclable materials (e.g. yogurt cups, etc…) it is vital to rinse out liquids from waste prior to disposal in recycling. Liquid waste can quickly spoil, leading to problems with indoor air quality and pests.
  • Biodegradable bags must be considered for compost stream: The content of the compost waste stream requires a biodegradable bag when considering health of the school and the durability of the waste diversion system. Despite recommended use of additional resources (energy intensive bio-bags in compost bins) indoor air quality and pest potential must be considered, as well as use of water to periodically wash soiled compost bins.
  • Consider examination of current recycling scheme: Consider the ease of use, clarity of communications and cost of current recycling scheme (e.g. payment for service from both Pedro’s Planet (office paper) and Alpine (mixed stream recycling)). The addition of mixed stream recycling (and composting) bins across school with waste diversion plan has the potential to confuse community (we would have four bins for sorting (Pedro’s Planet for paper, mixed stream recycling, compost and landfill). Consider cost of using both services to clarify best next step.
  • Most bathroom waste (e.g. paper towels) is compostable.
  • One lower grades class (4th grade, Mrs. Gaillot) has a comprehensive waste diversion plan.
  • Fabric is not recyclable or compostable: The compost process at the Alpine compost facility requires that all materials be composted in a relatively short period of time (e.g. three months to completed compost). This means that some materials that will degrade over time (untreated and naturally dyed fabric) may not degrade as quickly as is necessary to include in their compost stream. For this reason fabric is not accepted by Alpine in their compost waste stream.
  • Alpine (DWS Waste Hauler) is considering whether or not wool is compostable: The compost process at the Alpine compost facility requires that all materials be composted in a relatively short period of time (e.g. three months to completed compost). This means that some materials that will degrade over time (untreated and naturally dyed wool) may not degrade as quickly as is necessary to include in their compost stream. Alpine is reviewing whether or not naturally dyed or untreated wool can be included in our diversion plan.
  • No plastic bags in recycling: plastic bags in lunches (e.g. sandwich bags) are not recyclable. Additionally, plastic shopping bags have very limited recycling potential and need to be recycled in a stream separate from the school’s recycling stream.
  • Untreated wood and sawdust is compostable.
  • Deconstruct your waste: Take food (compostable) out of plastic containers (usually recyclable) and tin foil (recyclable) and place ‘deconstructed’ waste into appropriate waste stream (landfill, recycling and compost). Combination waste (e.g. a sandwich in a plastic bag) placed in a single bin (e.g. compost) will end up in landfill post sort at compost/recycling facility.
  • Class pet clean up is landfill trash: No pet waste allowed in compost.
  • Limited participation in Preschool/Kindergarten: Larkspur and parent/tot class participated in waste audit, which means results for preschool/kindergarten are limited to those classes only. Off site nurseries were not included in audit. Consider off site nurseries’ inclusion in school wide waste diversion plan.

Proposed Next Steps:
Building and Grounds Sustainability Subcommittee will meet the summer of 2015 to plan and coordinate proposal for expansion of waste diversion at DWS.

The Sustainability Subcommittee will; create the DWS Waste Diversion Plan (including any pricing information for bins, changes in roll off sizing, bags, etc…) and DWS Waste Diversion Communication Plan (including 2015/2016 kick off strategy and community wide communication scheme).

Ideally, the Sustainability Subcommittee will have draft Waste Diversion and Communication Plans to present to the Building and Grounds Committee by late July/early August 2015 to ensure time for further review and implementation prior to the start of the 2015/2016 academic year.

Waste Audit Results:






Total Waste Sorted:


Figure 1: Breakdown of total waste sorted during DWS waste audit.
Almost 182 pounds of waste were sorted during the waste audit. A slight majority of our waste (45%) is being recycled, while 41% of our waste is going to the landfill. Our current waste diversion rate is 59% (59% of our waste is being diverted from the landfill).

Current and Potential Compost and Recycling (lbs)


Figure 2: Breakdown of current and potential compost and recycling amounts.
We have some gains that came be made in our recycling rate. 82 pounds of recyclable materials are currently diverted from the landfill and 83 pounds of recyclable materials can potentially be recycled in the future. Our largest gains in waste diversion would come from the expansion of composting program across the school. We are currently composting 26 pounds of compostable material and could increase that amount to 66 pounds in the future were we to expand the composting program.

Potential Diversion Rate


Figure 3: Breakdown of total potential waste sorted during DWS waste audit.
According to the data from the March 20, 2015 waste audit we can recycle the majority of our waste (46%) and compost 36% of our waste. A minority of our waste will end up in the landfill (18%). The DWS diversion rate could be increased (from 59%) to 82% (or more) depending on pollution prevention strategies used (e.g. waste free lunch packing, etc…) and participation by DWS administration, faculty, staff, students and community at large.

Conclusion: The DWS community is committed to waste diversion (as can be seen in the exceptional recycling rate) and will benefit from inclusion of a compost diversion option across the school. Some communication is necessary to reduce ‘trashing’ of the recycling and compost streams: common errors include ‘to go’ cups and plastic bags in the recycling stream and fabric and food still in plastic containers in the compost stream. Planning and coordination to expand waste diversion program should consider both off site nurseries and athletic events. Source reduction options (e.g. waste free lunch packing, reusable to go mug use, etc…) could push landfill rate lower than projected 18%. Clear and cohesive school wide bin type, set up and signage, as well as communication on waste diversion goals could increase overall participation.

Carolyn’s College Corner – April 2015

by Carolyn Francis

Free and Almost Free College Options
Work Colleges – Work, Learning, Service

There are seven small schools in the Work Colleges Consortium that help students graduate with considerably less college debt than most of their peers. All member colleges help students graduate with limited debt; three are tuition free for qualified students.

Students arrive on campus understanding work will be an integral part of their college experience. Not only does this style of college give students work and life skills, it also creates “buy-in” for students; having a little skin in the game generates appreciation and a sense of accomplishment.

This unusual approach helps students learn a critical balance of study, community service and managed work expectations. Most work positions are limited to 8-15 hours a week with each school tailoring the jobs to the mission and operational needs of the individual school. Administrative and campus support in food services or landscaping are typical entry level posts.

Member Colleges’ work programs provide promising students with a means to earn a college degree while students get opportunities to advance and tailor work positions to meet career goals. It is a win-win for everyone. Work Programs cultivate career-ready qualities like responsibility and work ethic.

Alice Lloyd College – located in Kentucky, ALC charges no tuition for students from its geographic area. The Top College in America for graduating students with the least amount of debt, 95% of ALC graduates are accepted to professional or graduate school.

Berea College – also located in Kentucky. Founded in 1855, Berea was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Berea awards four year tuition scholarships to all its students who otherwise could not afford a high-quality, residential, liberal arts education. The work program has been a part of the Berea for over a century.

Blackburn College – located in Illinois and celebrating its 175th anniversary, Blackburn has had a work program since 1913. Over the years, students have built Blackburn brick by brick. Ten buildings were constructed with the help of student workers.

College of the Ozarks – located in Missouri, C of O is a Christian institution where students work in one of 80 different assignments. The cost of tuition is covered by students work, grants, and scholarships provided by the school. Student work performance grades are included in student records, giving an impressive set of credentials to employers.

Ecclesia College – located in Arkansas, the student motto is “Where Leaders are Learning”. Ecclesia serves students regardless of family resources. Students graduate with character, skills and resumes and with an average debt of $5,938 while national average is $25,250.

Sterling College – the only school not located in the South or Midwest, Sterling is located in a small town in northern Vermont. A small progressive liberal arts school with a focus on environmental issues and grass roots sustainability, they offer majors in Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Outdoor Education, Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems. Students can also design their own major. Some examples include Agroecology, Environmental Justice, Conservation education and International Agriculture and Business. Sterling came to visit DWS last fall and I was personally very impressed. The right student would be very well served by this little school!

Warren Wilson College – located in North Carolina, this school is well known for its strong international and environmental emphasis. The Fiske Guide recognized WWC as one of the “25 Best Buys” among private colleges and universities. In addition to awarding high marks for its academics, social life and affordability, the Fiske Guide honored the College with the highest possible rating for overall quality of student life.

Thanks to workcolleges.org for the above information.

These schools offer students with limited financial means the opportunity to receive a high quality education, life skills and professional growth not found in traditional school settings. While many are located in what we might call remote areas, there is a reason these schools are situated in the areas they are. Assisting an underserved population, these schools were initially designed to help locals receive an education. Many of these alums go on to be leaders in their region. With outreach and growth come new opportunities for students all over the country. While the initial incentive is financial in nature, taking a deeper look will show schools that are invested in providing a world class education.

Don’t Miss Senior Projects!

The Class of 2015 is proud to present their Senior Project Presentations to our school community. Will you be there to hear the results of their endeavors? These presentations represent the culmination of their Waldorf High School education, and are the product of a full year of independent work, guided by dedicated mentors.

Each presentation is unique and highly personal – like mini TED talks from Waldorf students! They’ll explain why they chose their topic, what struggles they encountered and how they overcame challenges along the way. In addition, the students will talk about a variety of passion projects that range from the mechanical to the artistic to the adventurous and beyond. Perfect for all ages! Bring your friends and neighbors.



Junior Class Play

Please join us for a dramatic evening performance of a classic Greek tragedy, performed by the Class of 2016. Friday, March 13 & Saturday, March 14 at 7:00 pm in our Festival Hall. Admission is free, and concessions will be available for purchase.

11th Grade Trojan Women Poster