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Waste Reduction

by Mog,Justin M last modified Jul 07, 2016 08:07 PM

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

Graph - UofL Solid Waste Generation 2005-14

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. UofL has been on a trajectory of reducing our total annual waste generation since a peak in 2009. While each year's total fluctuates with various factors such as major construction and renovation projects, we are generally headed in the right direction. There's still more we need to do in order to achieve our goal of Zero Waste. In 2014, we recycled over 4.6 million pounds (55.7%) of our waste. Landfill diversion programs include extensive recycling, reuse, composting, waste minimization, and other waste reduction efforts 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
What's a "Big Belly"?

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 <>.

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


  • 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! ...Or, join the Zero-Waste Reusable To-Go Club: In Fall 2015, we launched a brand new take-out service in truly sustainable style – without adding to the waste stream!! Purchase your Ville Grill To-Go Club membership in person at The Ville Grill for just $10. Membership earns you a reusable container, unlimited washing of the container and compostable cutlery & napkins, should you need them.

  • 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 durable 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 - 1st floor Lobby and near Dean’s office
    Community Park - lobby
    Davidson Hall - 1st floor
    Ernst Hall - 1st floor
    Ekstrom Library - 1st & 2nd floors, & Tulip Tree Café
    Ford Hall - 1st & 3rd floors
    Gottschalk Hall - 1st floor
    Humana Gym
    Humanities - 1st floor
    J. B. Speed - 1st floor at elevator
    Kurz Hall - lobby
    Law School - 1st floor & 2nd floor east and west
    Life Sciences - 3rd floor
    Louisville Hall - lobby
    Lutz Hall - 1st & 3rd floors
    Lynn Soccer Stadium
    Music Library
    Natural Sciences - 1st floor
    Service Complex - 1st floor
    Strickler Hall - 1st & 4th floors
    Student Activities Center - all floors
    Student Rec Center - all floors
    Unitas Hall - lobby
    University Tower Apts - lobby
    Urban Studies Institute - 1st and 2nd floors
    W.S. Speed - 1st floor
    Kornhauser Library 2nd floor
    K Building 2nd floor
    Dental School 1st floor hallway
    School of Medicine (55A) 1st floor student lounge


IFIXIT - Don't trash it, FIX IT! The free repair guide for everything, written by everyone. - Don't trash it, donate it! Find a local nonprofit that needs the items you want to donate.

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, students in Group Recycling And Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) joined forces with the UofL Sustainability Council and Campus Housing to open a permanent Free Store in the basement of Unitas Hall (enter from Cardinal Blvd near Brook Street). The UofL Free Store is a space for the on-going free exchange of clean, durable items like clothing, shoes, electronics, small appliances, household items, bath & beauty supplies, books, school & art supplies, non-perishable food, and more. The store is run by volunteers and is open to all UofL students and employees set hours each week during the regular academic year. Volunteers wanted! Follow the Free Store on Facebook.
  • In April 2016, UofL solidified an on-going partnership with Goodwill Industries of Kentucky to capture even more items for reuse. Permanent Goodwill collection bins are now available in the lobbies of all nine Belknap Campus Housing locations: Bettie Johnson Hall, Community Park, Kurz Hall, Louisville Hall, Medical-Dental Apartments, Miller Hall, Threlkeld Hall, Unitas Tower & University Tower Apartments. Please use these bins at your convenience to donate any of the following items and help us keep more stuff out of the landfill:
    •    Clothing
    •    Other textiles (towels, linens, curtains, pillows)
    •    Books, music, media (VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs, computer/gaming software)
    •    Shoes
    •    Accessories (purses, backpacks, belts, neck ties, hats)
    •    Décor
    •    Kitchenware

    Goodwill CANNOT accept any of the following items: Glass, Paint, Chemicals, Car batteries, Tires, Computers or computer components, or Televisions.
  • During Move-Out Time, UofL residents are also encouraged to exchange reusable items through the "Lighten Your Load" (or "Give and Go") collections and associated temporary Free Stores hosted at the end of the year by Campus Housing in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Kentucky. During UofL's 2015 Give & Go Move-Out Waste Reduction campaign, students donated 8,475 pounds of reusable goods to Goodwill! 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 a non-profit organization 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.
UofL Dining hosts an annual a Weigh The Waste campaign to raise awareness during the fall UofL Sustainability Week. Food scraps are collected from patron's plates during a full lunch period at The Ville Grill. Total weights are gathered each year and share. During the Oct. 24, 2013 event, 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 compost your own food scraps on campus in bins at the:
      - Garden Commons (4 rolling compost bins next to the greenhouse behind the Cultural Center)
      - Horticulture Zone garden behind the Urban Studies Institute at 426 W. Bloom St. (behind Bettie Johnson Hall). Or we'll come pick it up for you! Special collection bins for plant-based materials picked-up for composting by EcoReps volunteers are available at:
      - Louisville Hall (1st floor trash room)
      - Miller Hall (outside the north exit at the back of the building)
      - The Playhouse (Theatre Arts)
      - Cardinal Park (Athletics)
    2. No meat, bones, or dairy products are accepted in any of these on-site composting bins. This helps reduce problems with odors and vermin.
    3. UofL has been turning about 500,000 pounds of 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.
    4. In July 2010, UofL volunteers began on-site composting of pre-consumer plant-based food waste from our dining facility kitchens. This effort continues to capture various waste streams, but in March 2012, UofL established a new contract with Blue Skies Recycling/QRS 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, now totaling over 360,000 pounds/year.
    5. Full details about all of our Composting Programs here.
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