ASU students are getting their hands dirty, digging through about 6,000 pounds of trash. They're hoping their hard work will help cut down on trash and teach people to recycle more.
ASU student Melissa Merrill sorted trash. About 3 tons of it.
"Found a lot of stuff, more recyclable stuff than you want to see [in the trash]."
Merrick, a major at the ASU School of Sustainability, is one of dozens conducting a waste system characterization study for Salt River Project.
"20 percent of what we've been sorting for the past couple days has been recyclable or compostable so that's 20 percent of our waste stream diverted."
The students spent a total of six days sorting, analyzing what could have been recycled or reused.
"We're taking a look at what's coming out of waste that's coming out of our buildings and looking for opportunities for us to be able to improve and reduce the amount of waste," says John Hetrick of SRP.
The trash the ASU students sifted through was provided by SRP. It came from two sources -- one of its office buildings so there was a lot of paper waste as well as waste from the cafeteria -- and the second source was a Tempe service center.
"Every year public works drivers drive more than seven million miles just to take trash to the landfill what we want to do is turn that trash into money," says Kelly Dalton of the city of Phoenix.
The city of Phoenix, which is also a partner, is hopeful the findings will facilitate change. SRP is also striving to make everyday improvements.
"Putting up a sign doesn't seem all that difficult to me and separating out things takes an extra 30 seconds."
The ASU students participated in every aspect of the study. It was an opportunity to figure out what valley residents are throwing away and how to keep more waste out of our landfills.
The next step for the students is to put together a report on their findings. That report will then be presented to SRP and the city.