When it comes to reducing waste, there are not many institutions that do it better than UW Oshkosh. In accordance with the University’s Sustainability Plan, there is a strong, growing on-campus recycling and waste reduction program. In 2010, two years ahead of schedule, we met our goal to reduce the production of solid waste levels by 30 percent from the 2000 levels.
Our campus has been recycling since the 1980s. We currently recycle paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, rechargeable batteries, printer cartridges, tires, oil, wood, metal, and electronics. We have also seen decreases in waste generation (see graph below). Recent construction projects have achieved recycling rates of 85-96%. Residence Life supports recycling and re-use donation programs as part of Move-Out Week. We have run public events involving the arts, TRASHformation, in partnership with Los Angeles-based RuckusRoots. Learn more about waste management at UWO in the Campus Sustainability Plan.
Every year, faculty, staff and students participate in the international RecycleMania competition, a 10-week initiative that pushes campus communities to limit waste and strengthen awareness of waste management programs. In 2011, our university finished first in Wisconsin and 14th in the U.S. out of 288 colleges and universities in the Grand Champion category. Our recycling rate exceeded 60%.
Our recycling effort is way above average, but has room to grow. Studies on UW Oshkosh waste show we still have quite a bit of recyclable paper, bottles, cans and cardboard in our trash. Our recycling rate goes up if we put more into recycling and send less trash to the landfill.
Consider the economics: we pay twice as much to send an item to the landfill as to the recycler. So getting the recyclables into the right bin is about the money -- and keeping UW Oshkosh affordable for our students.
Recyclemania is a chance to remind ourselves of what we recycle from public areas and workspaces:
-- Paper (mixed office paper, newspaper, paperboard boxes, paperbacks)
-- Cans and Bottles (aluminum, plastic #1 and #2, glass)
-- Cardboard (corrugated, not coated with wax)
We also recycle metal, wood, toner cartridges, rechargeable batteries, electronics and other items through different channels. Some of these items are illegal to send to Wisconsin landfills, so please contact Facilities Management or the Sustainability Office for recycling advice.
NEW FOR 2012:
-- Feed The Beast: Our first public food waste collection (see below).
-- Labels: We are adding standardized labels to containers in public areas. We are adopting labels developed by the national Recycle Across America program. See their website for a 2-minute video explaining why this important: http://www.recycleacrossamerica.org/
-- Spring Cleaning: We will be sending a detailed email before Spring Break with some tips for recycling, in time for your mid-semester cleaning and organizing.
Feed the Beast
We collected food waste in the food court of Reeve Union and sent it to the biodigester to turn it into electricity!