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Waste Reduction

by Mog,Justin M last modified Jun 16, 2014 04:21 PM

UofL recycling, reuse, composting, and waste minimization programs help keep waste out of the landfill.

Graph - UofL Solid Waste Generation 2005-13

The University of Louisville is taking a variety of steps to reduce the amount of waste generated on campus and to divert a greater percentage of our waste from going to landfills. In 2013, UofL reduced its total annual waste generation by over 886,000 pounds (a 10% reduction from 2012)! In addition, we recycled nearly 4.5 million pounds (57.4%) of our waste in 2013. Diversion programs include extensive recycling, reuse, composting, waste minimization, and other landfill diversion programs from the classroom to the construction site.

Reducing Waste at UofL
Trash Mob Flash Mob!
UofL Mini-binThe mini-bin is a reminder that we can recycle most everything at UofL!
Group Recycling And Sustainable Solutions (GRASS)UofL students in GRASS (Group Recycling And Sustainable Solutions) have helped change the disposable culture on campus through awareness raising campaigns such as "dumpster dives."
Water Bottle Filling Station at College of Business
Water bottle filling stations, like those in the College of Business, make reusing bottles easier and eliminate the need to purchase bottled water.
"Having conducted about 200 Tap Water Challenges on campus, I have found that about 88% of students prefer the taste of Louisville Tap to Aquafina (which is simply tap water from Indiana) or Kroger bottled water (tap water from Virginia)!"
- Bess McLaughlin, UofL Senior, Spring 2011
Drink Responsibly - Reduce,Reuse,Recycle

UofL's Solid Waste Reduction Committee

In 2013, the Sustainability Council convened a new committee to take our existing programs to the next level. Phase I of our “Mini Bin” Garbage Reduction and Single Stream Recycling program are in place and the program has been the major factor in increasing recycling rates across the University, particularly in the areas of cardboard, paper, aluminum, glass and plastic. While the numbers have increased every year since the program’s inception in 2009, there are areas that need to be improved, including:

  • Promotion of recycling programs - increasing awareness, understanding of program, individual prompts to increase recycling
  • Changing University-wide culture to normalize recycling through behavioral change and institutional change
  • Improving current methods and discovering new opportunities to reuse items University-wide
  • Developing university-wide goals and systems to measure progress and provide feedback to the University community
  • Custodial staff training, development of policies regarding waste disposal, performance review standards, etc.
  • Identification of specific waste streams that can be minimized or eliminated, including modifications in purchasing habits
  • Recycling at special events, including sports venues, conferences, catering, other large events
  • Expanding pre- and post-consumer food waste composting

UofL's Solid Waste Reduction Committee is attempting to address these concerns and we'd love to have your input. This voluntary committee will report to the Sustainable Operations Committee. To get involved, contact: Aaron Boggs <aaron.boggs@louisville.edu>.

Remember that the famous “Three Rs” are in order of priority: Reduce, Reuse…THEN Recycle! Learn why at The Story of Stuff.

Reduce...

  • 42 Ways to Not Make Trash
  • Go Paperless! Instead of printing, use electronic file-sharing like SharePoint or Blackboard.
    - Instructors: Get the mobile app for paperless exams!
  • If you must print, use both sides! All UofL Uniprint Stations now automatically print double-sided! This switch alone reduced our paper consumption by about 30,000 pages per month!
  • Bring reusable shopping bags instead of accepting new paper or plastic bags.

  • At mealtimes, use reusable items like mugs, cups, utensils, cloth napkins and towels rather than disposable products. If you're headed out, bring your own!

  • Use reusable filters instead of disposable ones in your furnace, coffeemaker, etc.

  • Use rechargeable batteries rather than disposables.
  • Avoid unnecessary purchases and excess packaging. Buy in bulk.
  • Save some money and the planet by first seeking used and pre-owned items before shopping for new. UofL departments can freely exchange durbable items like furniture and equipment for reuse through UofL Surplus.
  • Drink Louisville's award-winning tap water instead of bottled water. Fill up your bottle easily at one of our many filling stations around campus, including:
    Bettie Johnson Hall - lobby
    Boat House
    College of Business - all floors
    College of Education - by Dean’s office
    Community Park - lobby
    Ekstrom Library - 1st & 2nd floors, & Tulip Tree Café
    Ford Hall - 3rd floor
    Gottschalk Hall - 1st floor
    Humana Gym
    Humanities
    Kurz Hall - lobby
    Law School
    Life Sciences - 3rd floor
    Louisville Hall - lobby
    Music Library
    Physical Plant - shop area
    Strickler Hall - 1st & 4th floors
    Student Activities Center - all east side floors
    Student Rec Center
    Unitas Hall - lobby
    University Tower Apts - lobby
    Urban Studies Institute - 1st and 2nd floors
    Kornhauser Library 2nd floor
    K Building 2nd floor
    Dental School 1st floor hallway
    School of Medicine (55A) 1st floor student lounge
What's a "Big Belly"?

Reuse...

Members of the UofL community are encouraged to seek creative ways to see that durable items are reused. This helps save money, reduces the amount of waste we send to the landfill, and reduces the environmental impact of producing and transporting new goods.

UofL Free Store logo
Sustainability at UofL: GRASS develops Free Store (The Louisville Cardinal, 4/3/13)
UofL Free Store Grand Opening 8-30-13
  • In Fall 2013, student volunteers opened a permanent UofL Free Store for on-going exchange of clean, durable items like clothing, electronics, school supplies, furniture, and more. The store is open to all UofL students and employees weekly in the basement of Unitas Hall (enter from Cardinal Blvd near Brook Street). Volunteers wanted! Follow the Free Store on Facebook.
  • During Move-Out Time, UofL residents are also encouraged to exchange reusable items through the "Give and Go" or  "Lighten Your Load" collections and associated temporary Free Stores hosted at the end of the year by Housing & Residence Life. Look for signs and collection bins as you think about moving out!
  • Prior to the opening of the UofL Free Store, roughly 2000 pounds/year of used clothes and shoes were collected from 2012-14 in light green bins set up by the Gaia Movement USA at Miller Hall, Threlkeld Hall, Kurz Hall, Unitas Hall, and University Tower Apartments. The Gaia Movement is a non-profit organization which uses revenue from used clothing to support and on‐going environmental and community development projects around the world. Clothes collected at UofL helped fund efforts including a solar power project in Quissanga District in Mozambique; a biogas project in Capo Delgado Province, Mozambique; a solar power project in Changalane District, Mozambique; and the Seeds for Life project in India.

...THEN Recycle!

  • From cans to magazines to batteries to computers...learn about the wide array of items that can be recycled at UofL here.
Weigh The Waste 2013
UofL Dining hosted a Weigh The Waste campaign to raise awareness at The Ville Grill for Sustainability Week 2013. During lunch on Oct. 24th, 230 pounds of food waste was collected for composting! 
Composting bins at Garden Commons
  • Organic wastes can be "recycled," too! Compost...It's Happening Here!

    1. You can now compost your own plant-based organics on campus at the Garden Commons, which set up four rolling compost bins next to the greenhouse behind the Cultural Center in 2011! Compost bins are also available at the new Horticulture Zone behind the Urban Studies Institute at 426 W. Bloom St. (behind Bettie Johnson Hall). No meat, bones, or dairy products are accepted in any of these on-site composting bins. This helps reduce problems with odors and vermin.
    2. UofL has been turning campus grounds waste into valuable compost and mulch on site for many years. UofL's research facilities also generate about 400 tons/year of waste animal bedding. This used to be sent to the landfill, but in February 2012, UofL began sending this waste stream to off-site composting facilities, where it is turned into an environmentally-responsible soil amendment.
    3. In July 2010, UofL volunteers began on-site composting of pre-consumer plant-based food waste from our dining facility kitchens. In March 2012, UofL established a new sub-contract with Blue Skies Recycling for collection and twice-weekly pick-up of all food wastes from UofL dining facilities as well as our Early Learning Campus. This allows us to compost both pre- and post-consumer food wastes, meats, bones, and dairy-products, totaling over 200,000 pounds/year.
    4. The new Cardinal Burger Company on the second level of the Student Activities Center not only features local food and grass-fed, hormone- & antibiotics-free beef, but everything CBC serves and everything it is served on is compostable! When the CBC first opened in the fall of 2013, we experimented with having a compost bin available to customers, but we had to discontinue that program because of constant contamination with landfill trash. We need volunteers who can help staff the composting station and educate our guests. Contact: UofL Dining's sustainability coordinator, Charlie Clabaugh
    5. Full details about all of our Composting Programs here.
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