Strategy 5.0 Sustainable Materials and Reduced Waste Streams

students recycling in a solar compacting outdoor recycling bin

These solutions will help UIC achieve it's commitment to be a Zero Waste Campus and can help UIC save 200 MTCO2e annually. Read the full report, including how we calculated the GHG emissions reduction potential in the full Climate Action Implementation Plan.

5.1 Implement Unit-Level Waste Reduction

Solution 5.1.1 Department and Unit Zero Waste Plan

UIC’s current recycling rate is around 45%. The goal of the UIC Recycling Program is to minimize waste through landfill reduction by 90%. Because there are unique waste diversion opportunities and areas for improvement for each department and unit on campus, these partners need to provide input and develop a plan within their units to contribute to UIC’s zero waste efforts.

The Office of Sustainability will look to units for guidance in setting a timeline for developing plans and strategies for improvement in collection operations, recycling performance, and cost efficiency. In turn, UIC will guide these units with building-level data, such as waste audits and weekly recycling weights.

5.2 Optimize University-Level Operations

Solution 5.2.1 Operational Waste Collection Efficiency

There are two major operational efficiency initiatives around waste and recycling collection that will simplify recycling for the campus community, increase operational waste collection efficiency, and reduced fleet GHG emissions. The first is to transition to a single-stream recycling system (from multi-stream; to consolidate currently separated recycled materials of paper, cardboard, and bottles/cans). The second component is installation of Wi-Fi enabled solar compactor outdoor trash and recycling containers.

Solution 5.2.2 Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste

UIC will reduce reliance on landfilling of C&D waste, which includes the aim to recycle and/or salvage at least 90% of non-hazardous C&D debris by weight and will be built into the UIC Building Standards.

5.3 Reduce Food Waste

Solution 5.3.1 Food Scrap Collection

UIC will expand food scrap collection (composting) to all Student Centers operations as well as UI Health for kitchen scraps. Composting should also be available to cafeteria customers for their scraps as well.  Future food service contracts will require “front of the house” and “back of the house” composting by all vendors at UIC including UIC Dining.

Solution 5.3.2 Food Recovery

The Food Recovery Network, a student-led group, can help kitchen staff in the Student Centers and UI Health to package leftover food in aluminum trays in kitchen refrigerators for overnight storage provided by kitchen management. This solution can divert 500 pounds daily to meet food insecurity needs in the area, and perhaps even among our own student population.

5.4 Practice Sustainable Procurement

Solution 5.4.1 Purchasing Process

The University of Illinois Purchasing Division should include adding language to the vendor entry document (Vendor Information Form) related to sustainability, adding sustainability language to templates for contracts, and developing a communication plan. A checklist for purchasing that describes the “why” and “how” of sustainable
purchasing, and identifies product certifications as well as existing industry standards needs to be disseminated throughout UIC.

Solution 5.4.2 Revenue Generating Contracts

The Office of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (OVCSA) is
responsible for enforcing the current UIC Dining Services contract of a procurement of 20% of produce from growers or processors within 250 miles of campus, annual accounting and reporting of procurement, use of recyclable (pre-consumer) materials, staff training for recycling, elimination of Polystyrene plastics (#6 PS), use of plant-based or biodegradable serviceware, particularly where composting is provided, and requirements for food scrap collection.

Solution 5.4.3 Purchasing Policies

5.4.3.1 Sustainable Paper Policy

This policy would reduce desktop printers, consolidate to multifunctional printers, and print less, while requiring a percentage of recycled content in paper. Printing less would not only
reduce the costs associated with printing, but also collection costs of
paper (which is our costliest recycled material at $550.00 per ton).

5.4.3.2 Bottled Water Policy

This policy would forbid purchases of bottled water by all departments, unless justified due to lack of access to safe water. An increasing number of filtered water bottle filling stations are installed on campus, allowing such a policy to reduce wasteful spending, waste created from plastic bottles, and emissions from transporting the bottled water from the producer.