e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Hands On, Even When It's Solid Waste Disposal

SUNY-ESF students collect, analyze trash in new class designed for environmental resource engineering majors

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Students in this engineering class are the people who will be designing systems for waste management and recycling after they graduate and this project gives them a global understanding of waste: who generates it and what they generate. Three days a week, the students brought in their personal trash, including bottles, cans, paper, plastics, etc. The students sorted through all the refuse and separated it for recycling or disposal. The project is a hands-on way of looking at the systems engineers design and the methods of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

"Engineers are involved in every step of that process of that, involved at the top in terms of product design, using recyclable materials or making it easier to recycle the product and they may be involved in the bottom end, the real waste and landfill disposal end," said associate professor Doug Daley.

"Anyone who's going into waste management, you really can't properly deal with waste management and methods of separation until you've dealt with this. And one of the biggest problems we have in society is trying to motivate people who don't recycle - to recycle," said graduate student Nick Pasco.

The trash was weighed and logged. The students will finish the project by determining how much trash each student produces each day and whether that's under or over the American average of four and a pounds daily.

The waste management class also includes discussion of solid waste regulations, and social, economic, environmental and technical factors.