Sign up for the newsletter
Sign up for our listserv

Monday, February 14, 2011

Faces of Sustainability

In January 2011, the UF Office of Sustainability welcomed Joseph Floyd as the new (and the university’s first) Zero Waste Coordinator. UF produces 18,000 tons of trash each year, and has a goal to be a zero waste institution by 2015. With that date quickly approaching, the necessity of developing a comprehensive strategy for attaining that goal is increasingly imperative. Floyd is no stranger to overseeing sustainability-related efforts. In his previous career he served as Operations Supervisor at Southland Waste for Republic Service, Inc, the second largest waste hauler in the United States. He also helped install a single-stream recycling system with a roll-out cart in Glyne County,
making it easier for resident’s to recycle.

Floyd’s first goal will be to draft UF’s zero waste plan – a strategic blueprint for waste reduction that will combine data yielded from a campus solid waste audit with solutions and resources to mitigate those waste streams. To develop this plan, Floyd will work with campus stakeholders to analyze the various resources at UF, determine which are not being reused, reduced, or recycled, and develop strategies for optimization. Opportunities might include repurposing, finding alternative resources, or overall reduction measures.

Two of UF’s biggest waste streams are organics and paper, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total waste generated on campus. One of Floyd’s first tasks will be working closely with Gator Dining Services to audit organic waste which will inform the development of an organics composting solution for campus.

One of the most difficult tasks he will have is educating students on waste issues and the role they play. “UF has a student population that is constantly changing. There’s a new class every year," said Floyd, which makes relaying the message and affecting behavior change a dynamic and complex undertaking.

Although this goal may be difficult to accomplish, Floyd is optimistic. “The student body at large is already very interested in sustainability as a broad movement,” which includes the various issues associated with waste. “The current generation of students grew up with some form of recycling available to them,” said Floyd, and he hopes that exposure will work to his advantage when one day students, staff and faculty will be asked to rethink their concepts of waste.

UF can continue to make significant strides in waste reduction by informing Gators on the impacts of their actions, the waste solutions available, and providing the tools and resources to be a part of those solutions. Floyd wants waste consciousness to become a new norm, so when new students or staff come in, the culture of sustainability is impossible to ignore.