Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Move-In 2013 Diverts 41% of Waste from Landfill

After students move in to their dorms and apartments at UC Santa Cruz, their lives settle in among all of the redwood trees and the many things they brought to their rooms in boxes. But what happens to all of those cardboard boxes, Styrofoam containers, and plastic film after they're unpacked for the year?

This year, 41.71% of the 38,189.84 total pounds of move-in waste containing those boxes and other materials was diverted away from landfill, with the largest portion containing 7.51 tons of cardboard.

Let's break down the diversion numbers into recognizable amounts.

Campus zero waste efforts this September diverted 15,013 pounds of cardboard from the landfill, which is the equivalent of 3.23 Tesla Model S electric sports cars by weight.

The second largest amount of diverted material from Move-In was 494 pounds of polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam. In average-sized, ten-pound pumpkins, that's nearly 50 pumpkins--and Styrofoam is really lightweight!

The third major recycled material was plastic film, which weighs even less than Styrofoam. 423 pounds of plastic film were diverted, the equivalent of nearly 17 average, 25-pound bicycles.

That's a lot of recyclable materials that were fortunately rescued from the landfill and sent off to be recycled! But what does waste diversion actually look like on move-in day? We asked some Student Sustainability Advisors (SSA) to share their experiences.

"This year, the Student Sustainability Advisors assisted Residential Life and Physical Plant staff in their recycling of a range of materials as new and continuing students moved in this September," shared Nuttha Mahakanchanakul, the SSA for Family Student Housing. "We asked parents and students to help us sort and break down cardboard boxes and even taught them a few tips on how to recycle different materials." 

The SSAs worked at all of the different move-in stations throughout Welcome Week. Nuttha Mahakanchanakul also shared that "staff were a great help and we had a good time learning how to make a real  difference in keeping the 'streams' of recycling clean as they are heading to the City's Resource and Recovery Facility."

"Cardboard corrals," stations designated for cardboard, plastic film, and Styrofoam collection, were stationed throughout the colleges so that residents and families could easily sort recycling after moving in. Stephanie Lara, the SSA for Porter and Kresge Colleges shared about her experience with parents during move-in: "After mistakenly putting a cardboard box in the trash dumpster, a parent was kind enough to hop in and retrieve it! It was an amazing bit of dumpster diving skill... Quite a few parents were also interested in what UCSC does regarding sustainability and waste management. I was more than happy to give a small overview--it felt so good to provide a link to our behind-the-scenes activities that help us near our larger waste goals on campus!"

Congratulations to everyone who participated in helping divert move-in waste away from the landfill! This diversion was possible thanks to a collaboration between Grounds Services and Colleges, Housing & Educational Services (CHES), including Residential Life staff at each of the residential colleges and the new Student Sustainability Advisors at each sister college. 

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