In 2019, more than 1,590 tonnes of household waste were placed in the about 50 waste collection points of Turku Student Village Foundation. This volume is not exactly small, which is why the Foundation is focusing on the planning of waste management. With functional waste management and active recycling by tenants, we can also achieve financial savings, in addition to environmental benefits. Tenants value good recycling opportunities, and TYS is constantly attempting to develop its waste management to meet the needs of both tenants and the environment as well as possible.
In 2019, 3% less waste was collected from TYS collection points than in 2018. Even the statistics show that TYS has a good level of recycling. For example, the average recycling rate of all household waste in Finland was at 42% in 2018, while the recycling rate of TYS housing locations was as high as 54% in 2018. The recycling rate shows which percentage of waste produced can be reused as material or refined into raw materials for new products. The reutilisation rate of waste from TYS locations is 100%, which shows how much of the waste is used in energy production, for example, in addition to recycling. TYS’ Property Assistant Aila Kovanen says the tenants are dutiful recyclers.
“When we have discussed this with our partners, it’s become clear that the recycling rate in TYS housing locations is very good compared to an average housing company. There are differences between TYS housing locations, of course. Some locations have a recycling rate of 40%, while others have a rate of 70%,” Kovanen says.
According to Kovanen, the varying recycling rates are also affected by the types of bins at the collection points and their emptying schedules, not just the recycling activity of tenants. In addition to this, the recycling bins in the apartments do not always correspond to the waste types collected at the collection points, and recycling requires the tenant to be active and arrange their home to suit their recycling needs.
“In general, the tenants are great at recycling. Though sometimes, we get reports that there are plastic bags in the biowaste bin or that the cardboard bin fills up too quickly when people put boxes there without flattening them. However, we are constantly seeking solutions to the problems observed by the tenants,” Kovanen says.
Surveys support the development of recycling in the Student Village
In spring 2019, we decided that we would develop the waste management in the Student Village and sent a survey to the tenants regarding the functionality and placement of the waste collection points. Approximately a third of Student Village tenants responded to the survey. Based on the survey, we thought about how we could further improve recycling and how tenants could be motivated to recycle even more.
”Based on the responses, we decided to place recycling bins for all types of waste in all collection points. Before, locations with multiple collection points did not have all types of bins at every point. Now, a few collection points with low utilisation rates, according to the survey, were removed, and the remaining collection points were equipped with bins for all types of waste. This way, we could get more bins for the collection points with higher utilisation rates,”Kovanen says.
In addition to this, a recycling pilot project started in Student Village West in the autumn. Two buildings were chosen for the pilot. The shared kitchens of these buildings were equipped with bins for plastic, biowaste, cardboard, glass and metal, in addition to waste to be incinerated.
“We’d had the idea of a recycling pilot earlier, but the recycling survey confirmed that we really should start the pilot. In the survey, the respondents living in apartments with a shared kitchen were unhappy with the limited recycling opportunities in the kitchen,” says Kovanen.
Previously, the kitchens only had a bin for waste to be incinerated, which meant that, in practice, the tenants who wanted to recycle had to take the waste to their apartment or the waste collection points after cooking.
“The tenants have been extremely happy with the pilot, and the sorting of waste has worked excellently. We have also received inquiries from other buildings in Student Village West if we could put recycling bins in their shared kitchens, as well. We’ve already placed bins in one building,” says Kovanen.
Improved waste management through dialogue
Development would not be possible without tenant feedback and participation in the waste management surveys.
“Customer feedback is vital in development work. With the surveys, we can focus on the customers and listen to their requests. In addition to the surveys, other feedback, through defect notices and other contacts, is also welcome and important for the development. Through dialogue, we will be able to direct the services as needed,” Kovanen states.
No significant changes to waste management are being planned for 2020. However, the dialogue with tenants will continue.
“We will monitor the impact of last year’s changes on the functionality of waste management. We also carried out a follow-up survey for the tenants of Student Village West regarding the recycling pilot in shared kitchens. In this survey, tenants could share their experiences of the pilot project. The results show that tenants appreciated the pilot and wanted it to continue. We are glad to receive tenant feedback and ideas, and we will make changes as needed,” Kovanen says.