The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to sustainability, however, the campus could further reduce its costs and save energy by optimizing the current method of waste removal. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that by the end of the century, Earth’s average temperature will rise by 11 degrees Fahrenheit unless society takes action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, about one-third of carbon emissions in the U.S. come from transportation. Campus garbage bins are collected by carbon-emitting trucks daily, and large truckable waste compactors are collected about three times per week. The amount of harmful carbon emissions released by trucking all of the compactors to their disposal sites totals 9,600 pounds of CO2 (the weight of 12 grand pianos) every week. In this analysis, the current waste removal system is investigated and a method is proposed to save UMass money and energy by reducing the number of waste collections. Initial research focused on how traditional bins could be replaced with solar-powered compactors from Bigbelly Solar Inc. to reduce pickup frequency and generate revenue from separating waste. Findings indicate that solar compactors alone would not have a worthwhile impact on the energy consumption of the UMass campus. Alternatively, a monitoring system that reduces how frequently waste compactors are hauled from campus would have greater impact, saving $1,000 every two weeks, reducing harmful carbon emissions, and using less diesel fuel. Due to the current environmental crisis, UMass should take action to reduce its carbon footprint through this economically favorable system.
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