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Thread: Zero Waste Museums?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

    Zero Waste Museums?

    Hi everyone, very happy to be here - finally got my act together and joined the PACCIN club!

    I'm starting my contribution to the forum with two questions: What do other art handlers and museum staff do to reduce waste in their place of work? Is a zero waste museum possible?

    In Australia (and to my understanding the US as well) we have been facing a recycling crisis due to the fact that China is no longer accepting our commingled recycling, and much of it is now going to landfill. This is doubly frustrating for us in Tasmania, as there is not even a plant capable of recycling plastics in the state, meaning waste must be shipped to the mainland for processing.

    In our organisation, we regularly create significant amounts of waste from tyvek, bubble wrap, polyethylene sheet, ethafoam and zotefoam, not to mention building waste, or parts and materials from disassembled art installations. This will often all go to landfill. 😟
    The whole system of recycling seems to be a large murky, grey area. In my previous gallery job in Melbourne, I decided to investigate options for recycling our plastic waste. I started by looking at all our packing off-cuts of polyethylene (Etha and zote foams), but the recycling company explained that the cost of collection and processing of waste hugely outweighed the returns, so it was a no-brainer. Apparently you need to generate an 'industrial-scale' pile of waste for it to be worth anyone's while. We elected to deliver said foam waste to their depot, and were promptly directed to dump our carefully sorted waste into one big pile outside the warehouse! It was literally a huge graveyard of deteriorating plastic junk...

    SO, with some senior members of our organisation now working towards achieving zero waste on our hospitality and accomodation fronts, I am keen to dive into this issue once again, and am very interested to hear what other members thoughts, experiences and suggestions are on the topic. I realise that things are likely to be different within various countries and local municipalities, but this is such a huge issue I'm sure that there will be some common threads that would be useful to investigate further!

  2. #2
    I would love to see donations to the habitat for humanity ReStore or something similar. It makes me sick how much material is wasted when exhibits come down. So much usable lumber and materials that I would have killed to have when I was in college and a broke art student!

    we collect and sort all of our scrap metal to sell to a metal recycler. I believe that our city recycles acrylic as well. Other than that it pretty much all goes in a dumpster, or offsite storage and then, years later, the same dumpster.

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