The Jackson Laboratory conducted its second annual waste audit on Wednesday, June 15 within the visitor’s parking lot on the Bar Harbor campus.
Leading this process was Levi Rogers, JAX’s sustainability program manager, and assisting him was summer sustainability student intern, Savannah Averitt, and Loman Morneault, facilities and grounds technician II.
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 JAX’s waste profile. The data will help JAX 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 team audited one day’s worth of waste generated at the Bar Harbor campus, totaling 4,226 lbs. (about 1916.88 kg) Of this, 3462 lbs. (82%) was designated as landfill material, and another 740 pounds (17%) of cardboard was collected separately to be recycled. There was a surprising amount of film plastics (including trash bags, plastic wrap, and plastic sheets); this category weighed 600 lbs. (14%), equal to the weight of 4,286 large 50-gallon trash bags. Feed bags were also plentiful and made up 10%, or 439 lbs. of the audited material. The remaining categories—glass, metal, cardboard/paperboard, plastics, and paper—combined made up only 4% of the total. Compared to the 2021 JAX Waste Audit, we increased our total waste generation by about 11 percent. To put the numbers into perspective, in only two days the amount of waste created by JAX would be equal to the weight of a medium sized elephant. There is room for improvement, and the team plans to follow-up this waste audit with a variety of initiatives to reduce our 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 Levi 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.”
At JAX, we understand every decision and action, whether directly and indirectly, has an ecological, social, and economic impact. We are committed to practices that improve human health, reduce our environmental impact, advance social equity, and support inclusive economic development. While we are proud of our work, we know there is more we can do, and we are committed to taking new, bold steps to advance our sustainability efforts. To learn more about JAX’s sustainability initiatives, visit our website.