Mallory Geresy, responsible for the net waste disposal of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, doesn’t mind getting dirty or smelly if that brings the zoo closer to its goal of being net zero waste by 2025.
Recently, she spent the day working with Hamilton County R3Source to collect, sort and categorize zoo waste.
âWe conducted a waste audit to collect data that will help improve our recycling efforts for traditional, specialty and organic waste,â said Geresy. âWe are working to create a list of items that are difficult to recycle, or items that cannot be sent to traditional recycling in Rumpke, in order to develop a specialized recycling program. “
Waste audits are a data collection procedure carried out by collecting, separating and weighing waste and recycling. They are designed to analyze an organization’s waste stream. This audit included waste generated by park visitors as well as bagged waste from internal zoo operations.
âThe point is to understand if the guests who come to the Zoo understand what needs to be recycled and what needs to go in the trash, and we also look behind the scenes to see if the employees understand the same,â said Karen Luken. , CEO of Economic Environmental Solutions International and a member of the Hamilton County R3Source Audit Team.
Additionally, the waste audit will help the zoo better target its recycling education efforts. Known as America’s Greenest ZooÂ®, the Cincinnati Zoo strives to be a model of sustainable practices.
âWe found a fair amount of waste paper that could have been recycled, so that’s something we need to work on,â Geresy said. âOrganic waste – mainly animal droppings and food – is of particular interest, as it’s something we plan to deal with on site. “
The zoo has tested an aerobic biodigester to turn organic waste into a soil conditioner that it can use in its gardens. The plan is to determine internal logistics before installing a much larger unit in 2023 as part of its new elephant facility. Data on the volume and types of organic waste found during the audit will be used to determine the type of equipment and processes we need to have in place in order to deal with food waste and excrement from elephants, rhinos, zebras and even Fiona.
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden aims to be net-zero by 2025. It is already off the power grid on most sunny days and has saved billions of gallons of water through its stormwater management program.