Recycling and waste management are important to reduce hauling costs as well as for campus sustainability because addressing these issues can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, the disposal of solid waste produces greenhouse gas emissions in a number of ways. First, the anaerobic decomposition of waste in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Second, the incineration of waste produces carbon dioxide as a by-product. In addition, the transportation of waste to disposal sites produces greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of the fuel used in the equipment. Finally, the disposal of materials indicates they are potentially replaced by new products; this production often requires the use of fossil fuels to obtain raw materials and manufacture the items, causing additional emissions.
Waste reduction can occur by examining two issues of diversion and disposal. This can include variation of pickup times, construction and demolition waste, electronic waste recycling, hazardous waste management, materials exchange, limited printing, reuse inventory, move-in and move-out waste reduction.
- Carleton College, Northfield, Mn Sustainability: energy conservation, clean energy production, waste reduction, student activism, and food procurement. Poster from the 2014 Annual Meeting indicated how they reduced their overall waste in the campus.
- Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia
Zero waste innovation, fair trade campus from the 2014 Annual Meeting
Poster from 2015 Annual meeting highighting journey toward zero waster in dining with controlling pre-consumer water, recycling, fryer oil improvements and future ideas including lean culture: people in the process.
Poster from 2015 of Residential life examples that explain to students the process of how to "live green" and inform them of conservation measures in waste, water and energy in residential units that all yield savings to the campus.
Waste is one of the key elements a campus can monitor.
KEY FACILITIES SURVEY RESULTS :
Waste Metrics are below and they are measured in pounds per student. Note that some of these waste measures weigh significantly more than a person. How many pounds does your campus recycle or throw out as garbage? What measures can be taken to reduce? Present this information to students and staff and see if there can be other means to reduce garbage and increase recycling.
Some campuses cannot measure their waste in pounds - so the suggestion is to monitor in any manner that makes assessment possible; if not in tons or pounds could it be in the number of trucks/month or year? OR is there another measurement in "units" the campus can do to evaluate its overall success in reducing the amount of garbage and increasing amount of recycle or organics? Create your own metric if you cannot measure the waste in tons or pounds. Evaluate policies, placement of receptacles and timing of pickups to reduce waste. One campus found that by reducing the number of days waste receptacles in offices were emptied, they reduced their overall waste output by approx 20%.
To assist campuses, we have created medians using the NACUBO institutional categories of Community Colleges, Small Institutions, Comprehensive and Research. There are some differences from the categories due to region, weather (degree days), programs and year to year differences in respondents.