Influence of undergraduate activities on the waste composition and generation rates in a residential university: Case study

S. Wijetunga and N. Liyanaarachchi
Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

The increase of waste generation and its disposal is a major problem and challenge faced by the most of the countries today.The uncontrolled disposal of different types of waste into environment is a great threat for the future of all living beings in the world. Therefore, it is essential to pay more attention for the waste management and disposal to avoid the detrimental impact on the environment. For the development of a proper treatment or disposal systems for waste management for any organization or municipality, it is essential to have the information with respect to waste composition, generation rate and its variation with time of that organization. Therefore, in this study, it was attempted to evaluate the composition and the variation of waste generation rate in the hostels of the undergraduates of University of Ruhuna with their activities.

The study was conducted in the premises and surroundings of the hostels of the undergraduates for a period of one year (September to August). The waste samples were collected from each and every hostel once in two months. The waste samples were separated into different components (such as foods, paper, plastics, etc), weighed and determined the percentages of different components.  The different types of waste generation rate per head were calculated based on the waste generation for the total study period. It was found that food remains, papers, plastics and polythene are the major components. The types of waste found in hostels of girls were less in numbers than that of boys. Leather, textiles, metals, etc could not be found in hostels of girls.

Over ~95 % of waste found in girls’ hostels were food remains and boys generate food waste about ~71%. Per capita food waste generation by girls was ~ 207 g/day while it was ~23 g/day by boys. The generation of other types of waste was higher in hostels of boys than that of girls’ hostels. It appears that the amount of waste generation varied in different months basically due to examinations and other activities of the students. During examination periods, it seems that the undergraduates may change their food habits. Based on this study, it can be concluded that major component of waste found in undergraduate hostels was food wastes and the generation rate slightly varies with the activities of undergraduates. When designing of a waste management systems for higher education institutes where students reside, higher priority should be given for the management of food waste

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