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Increase Recycling Rates (Ongoing)


The 2015 iCAP, chapter 6, objective 2, is "Reduce municipal solid waste (MSW) going to landfills. This involves reducing nondurable goods purchases, effectively reusing materials, and recycling. In the latter category, campus will increase the diversion rate of MSW to 45% by FY20, 60% by FY25, and 80% by FY35, while also increasing the total diversion rate to 90% by FY20 and 95% by FY25. MSW sent to landfills should decline to 2,000 tons annually by 2035." The University diverts over 50 percent of its waste from landfills and plans to divert 75 percent by 2020.

There are many recycling opportunities in this community, so individuals can choose to responsibly handle their waste materials.  The City of Urbana has a great resource page to answer the question "Where do I take it?"


Reducing the tonnage of MSW going to landfill will require a combination of reducing purchases, improving reuse of materials that have already been purchased, and increasing recycling rates.

Reducing Nondurable Goods Purchases

The campus could reduce purchases of office paper and computers by encouraging need-based printing and extending the replacement cycles for computers. An initial target could be a reduction of purchases in these categories relative to a FY15 baseline by 15% by FY20 and 30% by FY25. Additional major product categories could be identified for significantly reduced purchases. Purchases could be tracked by campus unit, with training and incentives for reductions; such incentives could potentially be implemented through the Certified Green Office Program .

Reuse Materials

The campus could implement a program to extend the replacement cycles for computers and other electronic products. This would involve educating the campus community about the benefits of postponing the purchase of new equipment, providing incentives for campus units, enhancing options for transferring the equipment to other users on campus, and investigating the potential for transferring equipment to noncampus users, in cooperation with Central Management Services.

The campus could also increase the reuse of materials on campus by expanding its durable-goods cataloguing system. The Surplus department on campus already offers the reuse of various campus property, such as furniture, and campus could increase this program’s capacity as well as its visibility and utilization. Campus could work with students to widen and encourage use of surplus goods by all departments.

Raise Recycling Rates across Campus

To increase awareness of waste management, campus could measure the performance by campus units (such as specific building, department and auxiliary) on purchasing, waste, landfill, recycling of specific commodities, and other product reuse. Campus units could be asked to participate in a waste stream characterization study that will help them develop plans to decrease wastes and increase recycling, and conduct training to increase engagement efforts. Campus could implement incentive programs for waste reduction by campus units and students and raise awareness of waste reduction goals through consistent communications and events, such as more zero-waste sports and cultural events. Finally, campus could increase the sorting of recyclables from combined waste at the waste sorting station. In campus, there is the Waste Transfer Station, which recycles paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, and plastic #1 and #2 bottles. Any recycle bin lined with a blue bag is manually pulled from the garbage stream to be recycled.

Increase Availability and Visibility of Recycling Bins

The campus could institute uniform signage for recycling and landfill bins across campus; bins could be strategically placed around campus buildings and grounds to increase visibility of current waste diversion efforts. The number and locations of recycling bins could be increased by pairing them with trash bins. The campus then could reduce the total number of landfill bins. In the ideal case, every landfill bin on campus would be paired with one or more recycling bins.

The campus could also undertake a campaign to increase awareness of special recycling categories, such as Styrofoam, electronics, batteries, and nitrile gloves.

Increase Options for Recycling

The campus could also expand the categories of waste that are recycled on campus. One example would be expanding the recycling options for plastics to include types 3-7.

Require Recycling of Construction and Demolition Material

Recycling of construction and demolition materials is a component of LEED certification, and is already required by campus for major projects. By extending this requirement to all new construction and renovation projects, the campus could make a significant reduction in our waste stream.




Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Diversion Rate

Total campus waste going to landfills

Total Diversion rate from Landfill

Recent Project Updates

Project Location(s)

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Project Team

  • Primary Contact:

    Project Leader:

    Pete Varney

    Team Members:

    • Shantanu Pai
    • Maddy Liberman

    Prior Contacts:

    • Tracy Osby
    • Tim Hoss


Key Objective