BAR HARBOR — The Jackson Laboratory conducted its second annual waste audit on June 15 at the visitor’s parking lot on the Bar Harbor campus. Leading this process was Levi Rogers, the lab’s sustainability program manager, and assisting him were summer sustainability student intern Savannah Averitt and facilities and grounds technician Loman Morneault.
During the audit, which took about six hours, the team sorted through one day’s worth of discarded resources, separating materials into various bins by category and weighing each bin to analyze the lab’s waste profile. The data will help the lab develop better systems for waste disposal to divert more of the useful or reusable resources from landfills or incinerators. The contents of the audit include all waste from the laboratory except for mouse bedding, food waste, recycled gloves, scrap metal, pallets, e-waste and hazardous materials.
The waste totaled 4,226 pounds. Of this, 3,462 pounds, or 82 percent, was designated as landfill material, and another 740 pounds (17 percent) of cardboard was collected separately to be recycled.
According to the lab, there was a surprising amount of film plastics, including trash bags, plastic wrap and plastic sheets. This category weighed 600 pounds (14 percent), equal to the weight of 4,286 large 50-gallon trash bags.
Feed bags were also plentiful and made up 439 pounds (10 percent) of the audited material. The remaining categories – glass, metal, cardboard/paperboard, plastics, and paper – combined made up only 4 percent of the total.
Compared to the 2021 waste audit, the lab increased its total waste generation by about 11 percent. To put the numbers into perspective, in only two days, the amount of waste created by the lab would be equal to the weight of a medium-sized elephant. Lab representatives say there is room for improvement, and the team plans to follow this waste audit with a variety of initiatives to reduce the lab’s environmental impacts.
“As an institution with such a prominent footprint in Downeast Maine, it is critical for JAX to identify opportunities to safely manage our waste and minimize waste generation,” said Rogers. “Our second annual waste audit is just one initiative in our broader sustainability efforts and I’m proud of the work that we’re doing at JAX to continue to advance our sustainability initiatives and lower our environmental impact.”
To learn more about Jackson Laboratory’s sustainability initiatives, go online to www.jax.org/about-us/our-impact/environmental-impact.