students recycling outside in a

These solutions will help UIC achieve it's commitment to be a Zero Waste Campus and can help UIC save 200 MTCO2e annually.


Pie Chart of materials found in the College of Dentristry waste audit. Due to a greater variety and complexity of the waste streams, we only sorted and identified 462 pounds of the 1052 pounds. Of that, approximately 40% of the waste was recyclable using our current recycling methods, including film (plastic bag) recycling. 7% by weight were gowns that are made of polypropylene by a vendor that are not recyclable.

UIC’s current recycling rate is around 45%. 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. The graphic shows a material breakdown (% by volume) found in College of Dentistry waste audit.

5.1.1 Department and Unit Zero Waste Plan

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. UI Health and the College of Dentistry (COD) each sought the help of the OS to determine how to reduce waste.

The UI Health waste audit showed that non-biohazardous healthcare plastics comprise 20% of the trash. The audit also found that by capturing the “back of the house” food waste alone would push the Hospital’s recycling rate from the current 29% to over 35%; and increase the total campus recycling rate by 1.5%. In addition, capturing all the cardboard, paper, and bottles and cans in the building’s waste streams would result in a savings (in hauling costs and fees) of over $8,000.00 a year for UI Health.

The College of Dentistry’s waste audit discovered that plastic film and food scraps constitute over 11% of the waste stream, and programs already exist at UIC for these materials. The COD is working in conjunction with the OS to develop a program to collect specific recyclable materials that are generated through the dental clinic, such as dental chair sleeves and wrap used in sterilizing instruments. With an optimized program including updated recycling infrastructure and education in the COD, capturing recyclable materials from the building’s waste stream (cardboard, paper, bottles and cans) would result in significant savings of $1,200 annually by removing 24 tons of recycling from the waste stream.


UIC Recycling truck

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. Below are some of the strategies that the OS is currently coordinating at the university-level to improve operations, reduce costs, and increase diversion rates.

5.2.1 Operational Waste Collection Efficiency

There are two major operational efficiency initiatives around waste and recycling collection that are being implemented in phases that will result in increased operational efficiency and reduced fleet GHG emissions. They will also simplify recycling for the campus community. The first is to transition to a singlestream recycling system (from multi-stream; to consolidate currently separated recycled materials of paper, cardboard, and bottles/cans). The second component is installation of Big Belly Solar Compactors (outdoor trash and recycling containers)

5.2.2 Construction and Demolition Waste

Waste from construction and demolition (C&D) of building projects is another category of non-hazardous MSW that UIC generates. This data is tracked separately from solid waste. UIC has a policy in place to reduce reliance on landfilling of C&D waste, which includes the aim to recycle and/or salvage at least 75% of non-hazardous C&D debris by weight; at a minimum, 50% must be recycled or salvaged. The requirements for reaching the 90% waste diversion goal should be built into the UIC Building Standards in FY 2018. Data for 18 projects reported (for the period of November 2014 to June 2017) to the OS to date shows an average of 90% diversion. Complete tracking and documenting for C&D waste will be achieved by requiring Small Project Management (Facilities Management) to provide records of waste and recycling hauled off-site.

5.3 Reduce Food Waste

students prepare food for donations

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

The OS has coordinated a food scrap collection program in Dining Services kitchens at Student Center East (SCE) for the past five years, and Student Center West (SCW) from January 2013 through December 2015. UIC currently collects approximately 50 tons of food scraps annually, which represents 1% of campus MSW.

Recent waste audits (2016-2017) found 1,400 pounds of food scraps in a single day at UI Health’s kitchen, or about 0.4 pounds of scraps for each meal served to patients, visitors and staff. This would result in 234 tons of food scraps annually from UI Health’s kitchen alone. Another 150 tons of food waste could be recovered from non-surgical areas at UI Health, largely from staff break rooms. Also, an estimated 400 and 600 pounds of kitchen food waste was prepared food that had not been served, which could easily be collected for a food recovery program to address the problem of food insecurity among students and the community around the university.

The OS identified an opportunity to coordinate hauling with the food scrap collection program at SCE to secure the level of service that the campus requires. A new bid for food scrap collection should be issued and awarded by Student Centers leadership in FY 2018, which can be utilized by UI Health.

Student Centers’ leadership should continue to work with Dining Services and food service vendors to implement programs that utilize compostable (or recyclable) materials, and expand composting to more locations by FY 2020. Future food service contracts (FY 2023) should require “front of the house” and “back of the house” composting by all vendors.

5.3.2 Food Recovery

The Food Recovery Network is a student-led group which has been operating a small program at SCE for the past two years. With the additional help of SIP Students, the students found UI Health kitchen staff are willing to package leftover food, and kitchen management has offered to provide disposable aluminum trays as well as space in kitchen refrigerators for overnight storage. The launch of a food recovery program in Hospital Food and Dietary Services is imminent. The OS assessed opportunities for food waste reduction in UI Health, through (no-cost) technical assistance provided through a grant from the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition and Seven Generations Ahead. This program could divert 400 to 500 pounds daily to meet food insecurity needs in the area, and perhaps even amongst our own student population. Implementation should commence in FY 2018.

This additional strategic solution also directly ties into the CAIP Climate Resilince Strategy 7.3.2 Food Security. Being food secure means that dietary needs are met and are accessible, thus supporting healthy lifestyles. Populations that have food security are less vulnerable to adverse environmental impacts. Promoting food security strengthens the adaptability of both the neighborhood and campus communities.


sustainable office furniture in Lincoln Hall

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

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

Revenue generating contracts are agreements under which UIC receives compensation or revenuesharing 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

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

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.