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Monday, October 19, 2009

Campus Waste Audit Completed

One of the ambitious goals set for UF is to be Zero Waste by 2015. Toward this goal, the Office is developing a Zero Waste Plan with key stakeholders from across campus to reduce our municipal solid waste (MSW).

As a first step, The Office of Sustainability commissioned an audit of the solid waste management practices and generation campus-wide. This waste audit was conducted by students in UF’s Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences (EES) under guidance of EES faculty. The audit objectives were to summarize current solid waste characteristics and management practices on campus, to benchmark current recycling and waste reduction efforts, and to identify potential steps to further decrease the amount of UF waste destined for disposal.

In addition to compiling existing information, the audit team performed several studies to collect new data helpful for estimating the current composition of solid waste on campus. UF presently produces approximately 18,000 tons of waste annually. Approximately 11,000 tons are landfilled, while about 6,600 tons are recycled. The average recycling rate from 2001 through 2008 for UF solid waste of 36.50% is similar to (though at the higher end of the range) typical recycling rates achieved by municipalities in Florida and the US. Landfill-disposed MSW contributes almost half of the waste on campus.

The audit team conducted several waste composition studies to better assess the primary components of the MSW currently being disposed. While not an exhaustive composition study, data were collected that provide a good first look at MSW composition. The largest MSW contributors are organics at 15.28%, paper at 14.26%, non-recyclable materials 9.39%. Paper is the second largest contributor to the UF waste stream at 24.83%, with 10.5% recycled through campus recovery efforts and 14.33% lost as MSW. The report provides more details about the UF's waste stream by weight, volume, and source.

To amplify current recovery efforts and secure a more sustainable future for campus, UF needs to develop and/or improve communication and cooperation between academic departments, units, administrative bodies and levels of authority in regards to waste management, recovery efforts, and sustainable initiatives. Both structural and behavior change campaigns will be developed and outlined in UF's Zero Waste Plan.

Each individual has role to play and can reduce UF's impact by following the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. More tips for personal waste reduction are available online.