In the Field: A Juicy Waste Sort

The following post was written by CoRR intern Molly Steckler, a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Public Policy with a focus on Environmental Policy.  


As an intern at CoRR since May I have learned a lot about waste sorts, but I never thought I would actually be able to do one! Earlier this week I joined Iffat Jahan, the other CoRR intern who attends the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and studies sustainable urban environments, our trusty volunteer Ann Marie Morgan and CoRR Program Director Lily Kelly (our noble leader) when we set out to Clifton, NJ to Classic Recycling to perform a waste sort for CoRR member Jamba Juice. Lily pulled up to the office building and we loaded the car with our supplies; two scales, 6 buckets, clipboards, data sheets, pens, garbage bags, recycling bags and LOTS of plastic gloves. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but off we went.

Lily showing us the ins and outs of sorting waste.

When we got to the Classic Recycling site they showed us to our designated area and gave us bright orange safety vests. Classic Recycling is a full service waste hauler based in New Jersey that currently provides services for CoRR partner Jamba Juice had. The task at hand seemed daunting; we were to sort waste from three New York City Jamba Juice locations into different categories and record the weight and content. First, Lily did a demonstration showing us the correct method to tare the scale with the bucket to get an accurate reading and explained to us what each piece of waste was characterized as; after all she is the waste sorting pro. Next, we paired off and got to work.

With plastic gloves and facemasks on, Ann Marie and I dove into our first bag of garbage. We divided the waste into recyclable paper, recyclable plastic, food waste, paper trash and plastic trash. We created a system of sorting, weighing and recording that we felt was quite time efficient and deemed ourselves “the speed sorters”. Time flew by and Lily reminded us that it was time to take a water break. The staff at Classic Recycling was very welcoming and allowed us to enjoy their air-conditioned office and offered us water and tasty snacks. After soaking in as much cold air as we could and a brief photo shoot with their oddly-timed office decorations (see photo) we headed back into the heat to finish the day’s job.

JambaJuiceWasteSort3aCups, straws, lids, napkins, receipts; we saw it all. Since we were sorting waste from three Jamba Juice smoothie shop locations, there were some bags filled entirely with orange peels, carrot shavings and wheat grass (that food waste went right into the compost bag).

Our efforts from today and the data we collected will be useful information in helping Jamba Juice reach their 50% food waste diversion goal for the NYC Food Waste Challenge.

Stay tuned for updates as we analyze the findings!

GeneralMolly Steckler