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Climate Detectives (investigation category)

Team: CBS Waste

Ireland 16 years old   10 /

Project title:

How the volume of school waste contributing to carbon emissions

Research question

Investigate the amount of school waste being send to landfill and the resulting carbon emissions from this, increase our recycling and compostable waste and lower our contribution as a school to the overall local carbon emissions.

Identify the local environmental/climate problem you want to investigate

At present the vast majority of our school waste is going into landfill. We have a recycling bin but no brown bin for our organic or food waste. Landfill gas (LFG) is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills. LFG is composed of roughly 50 percent methane (the primary component of natural gas), 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) and a small amount of non-methane organic compounds. According to the European Environment Agency (https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/net-emissions-in-kg-co2-1) for every tonne (1000kg) of landfill waste there is approximately 1,200kg of CO2 released into the atmosphere. We have data on our kilograms of waste going into to landfill and recycling dating back to February 2022. We hope to analyse this data, present it to the school and then create a major drive to change our habits.

Project topic


Describe how you plan to investigate the problem identified and which data you plan to analyse.

We will analyse the data we currently have on the amount of waste we are putting into the landfill and recycling. Then with posters and presentations we will launch a school drive to reduce this waste amount. We will first carry out a waste audit to quantify the amount and types of wastes generated by the school. We will then introduce a better bin system around the school so students have the facilities to separate their waste properly, guided by posters. We will have three bin types: food/organic (brown bin) recycling (blue/green bin) and then the general waste (black bin). We intend to weigh the general waste, recycling waste and food waste bines on regular occasions to see if there is a reduction in the general waste amount. We are hopeful this will be the case. From the weighs we can calculate our carbon emissions and hopefully see a reduction.

Your feedback

Expert feedback Phase 1 - 2023-2024
Is the suggested problem a problem that the students can actually investigate? Is it feasible, realistic? Please explain why or why not. Is the relation with climate/local environment worked out? Where necessary indicate the wider scientific context to which the identified problem belongs.