For more information on how to build an exceptional recycling program for your college/university, click here. We’ve been building exceptional college recycling & waste management programs for over 35 years. Here’s 9 key secrets we’ve unearthed that’ll build the zero waste campus program you’ve always wanted for your post-secondary institution and save you money in the process. Let’s start with the facts. Universities and colleges in the often have populations of students, staff and faculty that rival small towns, or even cities. By running a campus-wide recycling program, you can help ensure that the amount of trash that ends up in landfills is reduced, and that recyclable items are turned into new products: Members of the Columbia University Greens found that each college student on average produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, and it was estimated that college students in the United States alone contribute over 200 million tons of waste in a year According to Tufts University, there is a significant spike in the amount of solid waste generated on college campuses specifically during the months of May and June, when their students leave behind an average of 230 tons of waste. A 2014 study from the University of Iowa determined that 51 percent of students in their dataset recycle “as much as possible,” while only 9 percent said they don’t recycle at all. Among the latter set, the two main reasons cited for not recycling were lack of available space and no available information on how and where to recycle. In the era of the Green Economy, it’s essential for every college and university to have an effective recycling program in place. An effective program focuses on reducing waste, reusing useful materials and recycling them. Ineffective campus programs tend to generate a lot of waste, require regular maintenance and expensive waste disposal. Bearing these things in mind, let’s take a look at 9 key ways to enhance the effectiveness of your college/university waste management program. Always begin with a preliminary waste audit to categorize and quantify your campus waste Step one of building a successful waste management program for any industry begins with identifying and categorizing the types and quantity of waste produced by every segment of your grounds. Use a map of your grounds to identify key areas (i.e classrooms, recreational facilities, lecture halls, dormitories, etc.) and begin to identify what types of waste is being generated in each area. For example, administration/classroom waste (like papers, documents, brochures), household waste in dorm rooms (cans, bottles, cardboard), and organic waste from on-campus cafeterias or restaurants (vegetable and fruit peels, flowers) can be separated into custom, color-coded bins for easy stream identification and simple waste disposal that minimizes contamination. Build a Green Team How much time does your campus facilities management team have to spare for sustainability initiatives? If the answer is less than you would like, a green team can be the most valuable ally in your quest for building an effective recycling program. A Green Team can be a small group of employees and students whose combined goal is to educate, empower and inspire fellow students and staff to establish and promote environmentally sustainable practices within their organization. Every new initiative needs a full launch campaign and a group of influencers that will help build the momentum of your program. Without a green team, it will be very difficult to get your new waste management program off the ground. To setup your green champions for long term success, make sure this group has formal oversight, tools for measurement and verification, and a clear mission. Communicating your program to your guests is essential While awareness and the desire to recycle exists, students need an actionable plan and facilities to help them see how the recycling & waste program works on their campus. For students, a lack of instruction affects their daily recycling behavior throughout the school year, but it is a particular concern when they are moving in and moving out. When students return home after their school year, they may be returning to a location where the recycling program may be completely different. This means you have to continuously educate your students about the materials you’re collecting and how they’re separated into specific streams. Start with your recycling stations! Make sure your recycling & waste labels on your containers are clear and easy to understand. Many campuses have students from all parts of the globe that speak many different languages. Use impactful graphics with clearly identifiable images of typical items that can be discarded and standardize these graphics, so they’re consistent throughout your college/university. Get everyone on board with your program by telling everyone about it! Communicate and educate staff and faculty about the school’s goals and the sustainability initiatives so they can pass the knowledge onto your students. Programs like Recyclemania have also proven to provide a successful blueprint towards increased diversion rates through friendly competition and mass-communication. Modify your operational habits The daily operation of your campus provides you with an excellent testing ground for some of the waste management techniques. Reducing the amount of waste begins with modifying little things. Here’s some examples to get your creative juices flowing: Switch to refillable dispensers for cleaning products in every room. Use dishware to serve meals instead of disposable plates in your campus cafeterias. This not only reduces the waste, but elevates your brand in the process. Instead of selling bottled water, install water fountains throughout your campus. Use high-traffic areas to promote your recycling goals by adding large, attractive recycling stations with signage to promote your messaging Avoid paper products other than toilet paper in the bathrooms. Using LED bulbs instead of regular ones automatically means fewer replacements since LED bulbs last up to 10 times longer. Dormitory recycling programs can be a significant source of cost savings Every room counts! One may assume the seemingly small amount of waste generate in each room is insignificant compared to waste generated at central, high-traffic locations across the campus. Not true! College dorm rooms normally house one, two or up to four students in a quad….