Monday, December 1, 2014

McHenry Library Goes Zero Waste

Just this month, the largest library on campus took a huge step toward furthering their sustainability. As part of a collaborative pilot program between Grounds, the Sustainability Office, Custodial Services, and the Library, more than 40 four-stream waste stations will be set up throughout McHenry Library for trash, paper, contained recyclables, and compostable waste. McHenry is demonstrating the first comprehensive zero waste collection system on campus, which can set the example for the rest of our campus buildings.

McHenry Library has made reducing waste more accessible throughout the building. An announcement in the University Library News reads, “Collection containers will be provided throughout the library to accept all recyclables, trash as well as compostable materials. Desk side collection bins have been modified to accept compostable materials and recyclable paper. This change is a crucial step toward meeting the UC Office of the President’s goal of reaching 'Zero Waste' by the year 2020.”
Christian Monzon (above), a junior double majoring in Environmental Studies and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has worked in the Sustainability Office since last year. He is the McHenry Zero Waste Pilot Project Coordinator and hopes UCSC will become the first zero waste campus in California, setting an example for other UCs.

"I am excited about this project because it is an essential step in moving towards our Zero Waste Goal by 2020. I think that students and campus users have the desire to properly sort and dispose of their waste but it can often be confusing, especially since our waste collection is fairly inconsistent across campus,” shares Monzon.
In addition to improperly sorted waste and recycling on campus, one of the largest pieces of the waste pie at UCSC is compostable material, such as food scraps, used paper towels, and Bioware cups, plates, and utensils. These items shouldn’t be going to the landfill in the first place, but there currently isn’t a campuswide solution for composting. This is why the McHenry Library pilot is integrating compost into the waste stream, and the goal is to eventually phase composting into more and more locations on campus.

“Ideally, this project will begin setting the standard for waste collection on campus and will facilitate waste disposal for all students and campus users. This project has a lot of potential to create positive change on this campus and I am excited to be involved in refining our waste management system,” says Monzon.

He assures us that a more detailed update on the project will be released through the Zero Waste Team in the near future.

April 2014 Waste Data
This waste data demonstrates only the materials found in trash dumpsters on campus; it does not include recycling or compost containers. Notice that only 30% of what was actually in the dumpster on its way to the landfill was actually trash--everything else could have been diverted as compost or recycling! 

This is an exciting step toward reaching our sustainability goals because if the pilot project goes well, it is possible that we’ll see zero waste collection streams throughout campus. Besides McHenry Library, you can also find compost bins in the Humanities 1 building, all dining halls, and the Owl’s Nest. Slowly but surely, we’re making composting more accessible on campus!

Email zerowasteucsc [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions, suggestions, or comments about the new collection program, and stay tuned for updates.

Read this week's Tuesday Newsday article about this project here: "Composting bins promote a handy diversion toward 2020 zero-waste goal."

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