STRATEGY 5.0 Sustainable Materials and Reduced Waste Streams

students recycling outside in a

This strategy calls for UIC to require departments and units to compose and implement their own zero waste plan. This strategy will also optimize university-level operations through operational waste collection efficiency and requiring at least 90% of construction and demolition waste to be recycled. This strategy will reduce food waste through a comprehensive food scrap collection and food recovery program. This strategy will require UIC to practice sustainable procurement through a sustainable purchasing process, enforcing the sustainability aspects of the revenue generating contracts, and implementing a sustainable paper policy and a bottled water policy. This will help UIC achieve it's commitment to be a Zero Waste Campus and can help UIC save 200 MTCO2e annually.

Background Strategy 5.0 Sustainable Materials and Reduced Waste Streams


volunteers spell the UIC logo in single-use disposable beverage containers found at the waste audit.

UIC’s current recycling rate is at 47%. The goal of the UIC Recycling Program is to minimize waste through landfill reduction and encouraging the conservation of resources. There are two basic methods of recycling on campus: individual recycling (the efforts of individuals), and organizational recycling (the efforts of UIC and specialized staff), in which systems established divert waste into recycling and compost. In the coming decade, the goal is to increase the recycling or diversion rate to 50%, and to become a Zero Waste Campus by diverting 90% of landfill-bound material by 2050.

5.1.1 Department and Unit Zero Waste Plan


Develop department and unit Zero Waste Plans from large waste-producing departments.

Achieving UIC’s Climate Commitment to be a Zero Waste Campus will require planning and implementation by each department and unit at UIC. There are unique waste diversion opportunities and areas for improvement for each unit on campus. Departments need to provide input and develop a plan within their units to contribute to UIC’s zero waste efforts.

The OS will look to units for guidance in setting a timeline for development and implementation, including plans for engagement, surveys, and strategies for improvement in collection operations, recycling performance, and cost efficiency. The OS will in turn guide the units with building-level data, such as waste audits and weekly recycling weights.


BigBelly outside near Grant Hall

The OS is responsible for setting recycling standards, providing guidance for equipment, training of Building Service Workers (BSWs), and coordinating with transportation for delivery of equipment and pick-ups of recycling. Furthermore, the OS tracks recycling rates, promotes UIC’s Recycling Program (e.g. Great Stuff Exchange for office supplies, and LabShare – for lab supplies), and educates individuals on best waste reduction practices. Facilities Management is responsible for collecting the materials. As such, these departments and units provide university-level services.

5.2.1 Operational Waste Collection Efficiency


Increase landfill waste diversion rate to 50% by 2020 and 90% by 2050.

There is an operational efficiency initiative around waste and recycling collection that was implemented in phases that resulted in increased operational efficiency and reduced fleet GHG emissions: the installation of Big Belly Solar Compactors (outdoor trash and recycling containers).

The pilot project began with installation of the first 10 Big Belly duos in the spring of 2015. By the end of 2019, the campus had 219 containers that helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the fuel for pick up plus landfill gas to over 800 tons.

5.2.2 Construction and Demolition Waste


Recycle and/or salvage 90% (75% minimum) of non-hazardous Construction & Demolition debris by weight for every construction project.

Waste from construction and demolition (C&D) of building projects is another category of non-hazardous waste that UIC generates. This data is tracked separately from solid waste. This solution requires all C&D generating projects to reach a 90% waste diversion goal, with no less than 75% of the waste diverted, as described in the UIC building Standards. Data for 15 projects reported to OS (between 2016 – 2019) shows an average of 90% diversion, with no project less than 71%, exceeding the code required by the City of Chicago. Complete tracking and documenting for C&D waste will be achieved by requiring Capital and Non-Capital Projects to provide records of waste and recycling hauled off-site.


Food Recovery Network students pack left over food at the UIC Convocation

In the hierarchy of food waste reduction, food recovery is a preferred approach since it conserves all the resources that went into growing, processing, transporting, preparing, and cooking food, as well as the need to handle the waste. The first objective is recovering (non-contaminated) prepared food for donation, which also helps address the problem of food insecurity in neighboring communities as well as amongst UIC students (Solution 5.3.2). The second objective is to divert the food scraps from landfill into a composting program to preserve the nutrients and recycle the material back into usable products like fertilizer (Solution 5.3.1)

5.3.1 Food Scrap Collection


Increase weight of food scraps collected.

The Office of Sustainability coordinates a food scrap collection program in Dining Services kitchens at Student Center East (SCE), UI Hospital cafeteria, and Student Center West (SCW) for kitchen scraps for “back-of-the-house” composting, diverting nearly 70 tons of organic waste annually. Yearly composting data can be found in the CAIP Portal.

Food waste is also decreased in the UI Health Hospital cafeteria and Food and Dietary Services due to a waste audit that found 1400 pounds of food waste in a single day. Procedure changes in food prep greatly reduces the volume of food prepared daily.

Waste audits at other buildings on campus find there is also high volumes of food scraps from vendors other than the dining services. There is potential for expanding composting to more locations, and to include collections in departments and residence halls.

Dining Services and food service vendors should implement programs that utilize compostable (or recyclable) materials and expand composting.

5.3.2 Food Recovery & Security


Increase amount of  food recovered by weight.


The Food Recovery Network is a student-led group which partners with Student Affairs and UI Health kitchen staff to package leftover food. The UIC Food Recovery Network (FRN), Food and Nutritional Services in the hospital, and the Sustainability Internship Program (SIP),  recovers over nine tons of food annually, mainly from campus kitchens for distribution to local shelters for the homeless.


Populations that have food security are less vulnerable to adverse environmental impacts caused by climate change.  In order to support food security for at-risk members of the UIC community, campus entities have created several food security programs that function interdepartmentally. This ensures that each program can preserve its core function in the event of environmental or social impact.  Promoting food security strengthens the adaptability of both the neighborhood and campus communities.

A key factor in maintaining the functionality of a system is ensuring communication between schools and departments. Efficient communication between campus departments and organizations minimizes food waste and ensures that students and residents have access to resources despite social or economic challenges.

Climate Resilience Connection

Food security, a resilience concern, entails the economic, social, and physical access to safe and nutritious food. Being food secure means that dietary needs are met and are accessible, thus supporting healthy lifestyles. Promoting food security strengthens the adaptability of both the neighborhood and campus communities. To create a resilience and healthy UIC community, UIC must reduce food insecurity among students as well as community members through the work of the Food Recovery Network.

Climate Resilience 7.3 HEALTH AND WELLNESS


UIC branded water bottle sits waiting to be filled at a water bottle refill station in the Daley Library

UIC’s Climate Commitment to be a Zero Waste Campus can be assisted through good supply chain management. Integrating environmentally and financially viable practices throughout the supply chain – from design, material selection, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, consumption, to disposal – can lower the environmental footprint of a purchased material or product. While incorporating best practices, optimizing operations can also achieve greater cost savings at a relatively low effort.

5.4.1 Purchasing Process


Develop a program in Purchasing that advances sustainability.

Purchases are currently made in a variety of ways – with P-Cards, iBuy, RFPs, existing contracts through various purchasing consortiums, etc. – which provides complex oversight and control. A checklist for purchasing that describes the “why” and “how” of sustainable purchasing, and identifies product certifications as well as existing industry standards has been developed, but not yet disseminated. Other actions to be taken by the Office of Purchasing 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.

5.4.2 Revenue Generating Contracts


Leverage Revenue Generating Contracts for Dining Services to advance sustainable procurement.

Revenue generating contracts are agreements under which UIC receives compensation or revenue sharing from a vendor who provides services to the campus community while operating on university property. A key UIC revenue generating contract is for Dining Services. UIC’s current contract is in place through FY 2023. It is incumbent upon those responsible for the contract to enforce those requirements. These include 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. The Office of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (OVCSA) is responsible in enforcing this contract.

5.4.3 Purchasing Policies

The following purchasing policies are either cost neutral or cost beneficial. Implementing sustainability requirements into purchasing policies may initially raise costs, however, since UIC has large purchasing power often times these costs can be negotiated down. The Office of Purchasing and the CCSE Sustainable Materials subcommittee will take lead in developing and implementing these policies; which should be formalized in FY 2018 or FY 2019 at the latest. All departments and units will be responsible for the implementation of this solution. Sustainable Paper Policy


Establish a 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; a pilot study is currently underway. 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). Bottled Water Policy


Establish a 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.