With more than 50,000 students, faculty, and staff, and as many as 30,000 visitors per day, the Twin Cities campus is its own city. All those people generate a lot of waste, which the University continually works to manage responsibly.
Started in 1991, the university’s recycling program is one of the oldest collegiate recycling initiatives in the country and now diverts more than 3,800 tons of recyclable material annually, or 41% of the U’s municipal solid waste stream. The university also has a variety of innovative programs designed to reuse, recycle, compost, and otherwise divert waste from incineration as the institution strives for a goal of 50% waste diversion.
• Chemical Reuse Program
The Department of Environmental Health and Safety collects commonly-used chemicals from other University departments that no longer need them and redistributes them to other researchers on-campus for free. By repurposing these chemicals rather than disposing them, the University reduces costs and waste associated with purchasing chemicals. All chemicals have been inspected and catalogued to ensure their quality. Departments and research labs on campus can order these chemicals on a first-come first-serve basis.
For more information, visit see the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.
• E-waste Recycling
Electronics contain a variety of substances that are harmful to the environment when landfilled or incinerated. The University has a program for departments to recycle old computers, printers, televisions, calculators, laboratory equipment, video monitors, cell phones, and other e-waste safely.
For more information, visit the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.
• Fryer Oil Recycling
UDS recycles used fryer oil from dining locations. When possible, recycled oil can be filtered and used to make biofuel for certain types of vehicles. Because it’s made of renewable plant material, this form of energy has positive environmental impacts, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and particulate pollution.
For more information, visit UDS Sustainability.
• Green Resident Certification Program
Green Resident Certification is an opportunity for on-campus residents to measure and be recognized for the steps they take to be sustainable. Green Resident Certification has three levels (Maroon, Gold and Green). The certification program asks residents to identify areas in which they can make a change; calculate their footprint and set related sustainability goals; and encourage their friends to do the same. Participants get a decal for their residence hall door so to record and display their progress, as well as buttons that show the level the levels they have completed.
For more information, visit Housing & Residential Life.
• Hazardous Waste Recycling
The Thompson Center for Environmental Management (TCEM) treats and stores about 600,000 lbs. of hazardous waste from the University, schools, and agencies across Minnesota. Hazardous waste is defined as any non-usable substance with the potential to harm people or the environment, and may be present in common household items such as light bulbs, oil, antifreeze, batteries, and smoke detectors. Other hazardous materials may be found in acids, ceramic glazes, photographic chemicals, inks, solvents, cleaning products, pesticides, herbicides, or laboratory chemicals. Chemicals and solvents that can still be used are recycled and redistributed. Other waste is treated on-site to make it nonhazardous or is shipped to other facilities for special treatment.
• Live Green Games
The Live Green Games educates on-campus residents on how to live more sustainably and make a lasting impact on resource conservation. Sustainability education programming is offered from September through April, for which residents can earn participation points that add to their residence hall's Live Green Games Points Bank. The residence hall with the largest point total at the end of April is treated to a catered "Sustainable Study Break" during finals. The program’s goal is to encourage students to live sustainably and develop lifelong habits for their journey after college.
For more information, visit It All Adds Up - Live Green Games.
• Organics Collection and Composting
Composting reduces the amount of waste sent to incinerators and creates a beneficial product used to restore soil structure and reduce air and water pollution. The University Organics Collection and Composting Program is thriving and is striving to achieve a goal of composting 1,500 tons of organics annually. Wastes such as food scraps, napkins, paper, cardboard materials, biodegradable packaging, animal bedding, and animal manures are collected from University buildings and brought to off-site commercial composting facilities. In addition to off-site composting, University Landcare collects and composts leaves and other organic matter collected from maintaining the campus grounds. Landcare’s compost is used around campus as mulch in annual and perennial beds to control the weed-seed germination, conserve water, and reduce the compaction effects of heavy rains and sprinkler irrigation.
• Quad System
In 1991, the SMART system, an acronym for Self Managed Activities for Recyclables and Trash, revolutionized campus waste disposal and recycling. Each time a person disposes of their waste at the U, they're presented with an opportunity to recycle. Individuals take their waste and recyclables to four conveniently located ‘Quad’ containers (pictured above) strategically placed within each building. The containers provide appropriate disposal options for waste and recyclables. An open top container is for trash, a gray top signifies office paper, gold is for newspaper plus, and maroon means commingled bottles and cans. Similarly color coded, compact containers are provided in every residence hall room as well.
For more information, visit Quad System Recycling.
• Recycling Program
The University Recycling Program’s goal is to manage wastes in a cost effective, efficient and environmentally sound manner. Methods to reduce, reuse and recycle wastes are preferred and emphasized over disposal in accordance with the Minnesota Waste Management Hierarchy and the Board of Regents Policy: Sustainability and Energy Efficiency. The Recycling Program also emphasizes providing excellent customer service to the University community. Central to the program’s success is a multi-material recycling facility, which processes nearly 4000 tons of recyclable materials annually, diverting valuable resources that would otherwise be lost to incineration or landfilling.
The Recycling Program is part of the Waste Abatement Services division of Facilities Management, which provides collection services to both the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Campuses.
For more information, visit the Recycling Program.
• Reusable To-Go Containers from UDS
In spring 2010, University Dining Services introduced a reusable to-go container program at three retail venues on campus: Bistro West Restaurant in Humphrey Center, Outside In Restaurant in Phillips Wangensteen Building, and Conference Cafe in the Continuing Education & Conference Center. Reusable to-go containers provide an alternative solution to the traditional disposable to-go container. By focusing on reuse and waste minimization, the waste stream is positively reduced by "reusing" a to-go container many times prior to recycling.
• ReUse Program
The University of Minnesota ReUse Program collects surplus office furniture, supplies, equipment and parts from throughout the Twin Cities Campus and makes them available to University departments or individuals for purchase.
For more information, visit the U of M ReUse Warehouse.
Terracycling recycles packaging that does not break down naturally and converts it into eco-friendly products like recycling bins, household products, lunch boxes, garden products and gifts. University Dining Services’ Essentials Market, Outside In Restaurant, Carlson Dining, Terrace Cafe and Residence Hall dining rooms are collecting wrappers from Nabsico and Frito Lay chip bags for the program. Terracycle will donate $.02 per wrapper to Urban Ventures, a South Minneapolis non-profit organization on behalf of University Dining Services.
• 2012 - AASHE STARS Silver Rating
AASHE is helping to create a brighter future of opportunity for all by advancing sustainability in higher education. For more information visit AASHE.