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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UCSC 2014 Waste Assessment

In continuing efforts to be a leading institution in sustainable practices, Chancellor Blumenthal initiated the Chancellor's Sustainability Challenge this year to students, staff, and faculty to reduce campus waste, in hopes of reaching the official UC-wide goal of Zero Waste by 2020. Part of realizing that goal is tracking all material flowing from campus, including the material we produce, the categories of these materials, and whether or not each material type is being disposed of appropriately. To accomplish this the Sustainability Office and Ground Services partnered to conduct a campus-wide assessment.

The assessment was conducted at the university’s 2300 Delaware location, headed and organized by students and staff from the Sustainability Office and Ground Services. This committee planned and coordinated the manual sorting of 10,463 pounds of material, from 50 randomly selected university dumpsters, over the course of two days. The material was delivered to the site in loads from campus kitchens, lab/office areas, and housing, and analyzed separately by location. With the help of temporarily hired workers, the dumpster contents was sorted into categories, including clean recyclable paper, mixed recycle containers, food scraps, soiled paper towels, other compostables, cardboard, plastic bags, styrofoam, and unsalvageable waste. Each category was weighed, and their percentage in the overall material composition calculated.

We were amazed at the amounts of compostable and recyclable materials that were ending up in the dumpster, all of whose contents are regularly transported to the landfill. With a majority of the items in the dumpster being recyclable or compostable, we predict that reaching Zero Waste by 2020 could be feasible! Our intentions now are to use this information to educate and outreach to university members, as well as reassess campus facilities, so that we can properly redirect the campus’s material stream. If you are interested in more detailed information regarding the campus-wide waste assessment, the official results will be shared by the Chancellor at the Sustainability Spring Fest event to be held at the Stevenson Event Center on May 22nd.

If you have not already, help our campus reach its Zero Waste Goal by 2020 and 
It only takes a couple minutes.

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