Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s net-zero waste manager, Mallory Geresy, doesn’t mind getting dirty or smelly if it gets the Zoo closer to its goal to be net-zero waste by 2025. Recently, she spent the day working with Hamilton County R3Source to collect, sort, and categorize the Zoo’s trash. “We performed a waste audit in order to collect data that will help enhance our mainstream, specialty, and organic waste recycling efforts,” said Geresy. “We are working to create a list of hard to recycle items, or items that cannot be sent in mainstream recycling to Rumpke, in order to develop a specialty recycling program.”
Waste audits are a data collection procedure performed by collecting, separating, and weighing trash and recycling. They are designed to analyze an organization’s waste stream. This audit included waste generated by park guests as well as bagged waste from the back-of-house operations at the Zoo. “The goal is to understand if the guests who come to the Zoo understand what should be recycled and what should go in the trash, and we’re also looking behind the scenes to see if employees understand the same thing,” said Karen Luken, CEO Economic Environmental Solutions International and Hamilton County R3Source audit team member.
In addition, the waste audit will help the Zoo better target its recycling education efforts. Known as the Greenest Zoo in America®, Cincinnati Zoo strives to be a model for sustainable practices. “We discovered a good amount of paper waste that could have been recycled, so that’s one thing we need to work on,” said Geresy. “Organic waste – primarily animal poop and food – is of particular interest, as that’s something we plan to process on site.”