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Projects Updates for Increase Recycling Rates

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  1. 05/13/24 Update

    Associated Project(s): 

    We are using the blue bags in all the buildings. That is the expectation but it is possible a few here and there use black bags in containers as we had some complaints on the size didn’t fit.  


    Mark Kuehl


    Hi Mark,

    Do you know what the status of the colored bag transition is across the residence halls? E.g., how many have transitioned so far?

    Thank you,

  2. SSC Project: Greening the Garage

    Hi Lisa,


    As discussed during the SSC F&S feasibility meeting, I wanted to send over to you the product that we are requesting funding for. Based on this, are there any concerns?


    Thank you,



    Hi Daphne,


    Thank you for sending me the cut sheet for the oil filter crusher.


    I don’t see any code requirements above and beyond what is already being done at the garage for oil filter disposal.  I have no concerns, and neither does Mike Brown in Code Compliance and Fire Safety.


    It is my opinion that this project is feasible, no changes needed.


    Thank you,



    Thank you, Lisa! We appreciate you taking the time to thoroughly review this piece of equipment.


    In a seperate email thread Daphne sent the message below and the attached file:


    Hi Lisa & Morgan,


    Shawn & I are submitting a SSC funding request for a piece of equipment at the garage that would allow us to crush and recycle metal oil filters. We go through about 1500 oil filters a year, and they are currently landfilled.


    Thank you,



  3. Toner and Ink Cartridge Recycling

    Associated Project(s): 

    Hi Daphne,


    Just to confirm, this is toner and not an ink cartridge for printer. We don’t have many inkjet printers, but I don’t want to assume which one you have.





    Hi Brad,


    That’s correct – toner is what we are referring to! Apologies for the confusion.


    Thank you,


    HI Daphne,


    The vendors we work with for recycling toner quit accepting them. Unfortunately, they have to be thrown away.





    Hi Morgan & Stephanie,


    Below is the response I received from Brad re: toner recycling. Sarthak was over at IT recently and noted that there was a box of toner cartridges that the IT team has been collecting for many, many years since the vendor stopped accepting them for recycling. I’ll do some research to see if there’s a solution in this region.


    Thank you,


  4. Zero Waste iCAP Meeting 4/25/23

    On April 25th, the Zero Waste iCAP team met to discuss the State Farm Center Recycling (ZW011) recommendation and brainstorm on the Zero Waste iCAP summary report for the 22-23 FY. 

    Meeting minutes are attached.

    Attached Files: 
  5. Housing Sustainability Re-Cap

    Below is an email exchange regarding University Housing recycling:

    It was great talking with all of you about sustainability in University Housing. I hope my input didn’t scare you too much. Given our size, and the number off residents we house, we have to maintain some discipline in how we communicate to and interact with our residents. I’m sure we can find a viable method for reaching our residents to inform them of sustainability issues and event across campus. Below are a few talking points I jotted down during out meeting.


    • Below are four key communication methods for reaching our residents.
    1. 11x17 posters in the dining halls. You would need to produce 200 posters to reach all the halls. I can share any drafts you have with various people in Housing to get their feedback before they are printed.
    2. Digital Signs Link:
    3. Dining hall napkin holders (I need to double check with Thurman Etchison on availability, or Meredith can ask him next time she talks with him)
    4. Housing Insider and Family and Graduate Housing Newsletter. The Housing insider a weekly newsletter we send to all undergraduate residents. The FGH Newsletter is sent to all graduate and apartment residents monthly. Notices in the Housing Insider are typically one and done. They don’t like to run the same notice for consecutive weeks at a time.
    • I attached our standard recycling container label. This is placed above all recycling containers in Housing and in the trash/recycling rooms in the residence halls.
    • Placement of a QR code on the residence hall room recycling containers, similar to what was displayed on the Don’t Waste It recycling containers. I suggest we wait until next summer when the students are not in the rooms to add this to the containers. It’s far less complicated if the residents are not in their rooms. Although, like Meredith suggested, we could explore providing the stickers at the residence hall front desks for the students to place on the containers themselves.
    • We discussed incorporating a short segment on sustainability in the RA training at the beginning of the academic year. I will bring this idea to the Residential Life leadership to get their thoughts.
    • We also discussed how we might be able to include components on sustainability in our programming to Housing residents. Nathan Sanden is responsible for implementing the Residential Curriculum, so I will share this idea with him for thoughts and input.


    I ended up closing the meeting invite without saving, which I was using to keep notes during the meeting. So please let me know if I missed any key takeaways.





    Hi Bryan,


    Daphne Hulse and I have been developing plans for a campus-wide plastic waste reduction campaign. I think the communication methods you mention below could be valuable for messaging. If you agree, Daphne can incorporate these into the strategy.


    We remain interested in adding a sticker with a QR code to the residence hall room recycling containers to direct students to a website with more information about recycling and waste management. Can you provide an estimate of how many stickers we would need?


    I also want to follow up on your last two points about incorporating sustainability into RA training and programming to Housing residents. Our survey data indicate that first year students are more likely to purchase single-use plastic bottles, so we think targeting this group is important. Has Residential Life leadership and or Nathan Sanden responded to your inquiries concerning this issue?


    If you would like to discuss any of these items further, Daphne and I would be happy to join you on a call.


    Thank you,



    Okay, I have some answers for you. Attached is our proposal to the SSC to fund the recycling containers. The original purchase was for 6,511 containers, but I would guess a few have disappeared by now. I was not able to find anyone within our Sustainability LLC to help mange this project or take on submitting another request to SSC to fund the stickers. If we move forward with this project, we will need to meet with Housing Facilities staff to iron out the logistical details. Our facilities staff will not be able to assist with placement of the stickers, so we will need to find a different avenue for getting them placed. I copied Matt Brown and Mark Kuehl from Housing Facilities on the email to keep them in the loop.


    Herb Jones, Director of Residential Life, said he is open to a conversation to talk through your thoughts on incorporating a sustainability component into our RA training. Jenny Bates, copied here, manages his calendar, if you would like to reach out to her and schedule a time to meet.


    Also, here is an updated link to Housing’s website for digital sign requests. We redesigned our webpage a couple months ago and the old link was inactive.


    Also, also, I am still trying to confirm if we rent out the space on the napkin holders in the dining halls. We have not done this in the past, but we have a new Director of Dining who might have a different direction for these.








    Thank you for sharing this information. It is all very helpful!


    Daphne and I can look into developing an SSC proposal, perhaps with the assistance of our iCAP Engagement team. I think we can also find people to help with sticker placement if the project is funded.


    We are looking forward to discussing incorporating a sustainability component into RA training with you on April 7 at 3:00 pm.




  6. Daily Illini Article: How can students support waste management on campus?

    How can students support waste management on campus?

    By Lily Perez, Contributing Writer

    Have you ever placed something in a recycling bin and wondered what happens next? Does it actually get recycled, or does it just get tossed in the landfill without ever being sorted out?

    Students said it can be hard to be committed to sustainability when resources to do so are not always clear.

    Adeline Hoegberg, junior in FAA, said she does not have a lot of knowledge about where the trash on campus is taken or how big of a difference the University is making with their waste management systems.

    “I’ve heard that all of the recycling would just end up in the normal trash,” Hoegberg said.

    The Waste Transfer Station in Champaign filters out around 30% of the trash that comes in, but still sends around 50 pounds to the landfill each day. This is not taking into account busier times like holidays and move-in days for students.

    The Waste Transfer Station is located just off of St. Mary’s Road in Champaign and takes in trash from all various places on campus. This includes instructional facilities, University Housing, Illini Union and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.

    Daphne Hulse works as the Facilities & Services zero waste coordinator, a new position focused on decreasing the amount of waste that goes through the University. Hulse works on various outreach projects, including hosting tours of the Waste Transfer Station.

    “These tours are a really unique opportunity to illuminate to the broader campus community what goes on after you put something in the bin,” Hulse said.

    Adam Soper, senior in FAA, recalled seeing several recycling places on campus but, like many other students, hasn’t heard of the Waste Transfer Station on campus.

    “I know all the dorms have dedicated recycling bins,” Soper said. “But I’m not necessarily sure where those get dumped to.”

    Another program that Hulse is facilitating in collaboration with Coca-Cola and the DIA is the “Fighting Illini, Fighting Waste” campaign. This campaign has students volunteer at basketball games to encourage recycling at sporting events. The last zero waste basketball game was March 2 and had 100 volunteers.

    “(We’re) creating that general awareness for sustainability in an audience with not just students but townies, out of state folks and athletic rivals,” Hulse said.

    Despite these programs, it can be hard for students to recycle on campus and even more so on their own where businesses and residencies don’t provide recycling services. Along with a lack of opportunity, some students feel that recycling doesn’t have a huge impact.

    “I’m under the strong feeling that you can’t solely rely on us recycling,” Hoegberg said. “It’s more about the corporations if you really want to fix things.”

    Soper said he would most likely not see discernible difference in a world without recycling.

    “It wouldn’t be a whole lot different because the recycling practices aren’t widespread enough to be making a huge impact on the scale that we’d be able to really see,” Soper said.

    Hulse recognizes that sustainability can seem isolating at times but encourages students to join organizations and communities that bring collective action. She highlighted the RSO Project4Less, whose members package leftover food in good condition and ship it out to food assistance programs in the surrounding area.

    “The human connection component of climate change is so important,” Hulse said. “I think we often feel stuck by ‘what can I do as an individual’ in this global planetary crisis.”

    Aside from joining sustainability-focused communities, Hulse also recommends learning what people can about what’s happening in the community and leading by example.  

    “We know reduce, reuse, recycle. But what about at the start of all of that, refuse,” Hulse said. “What could you refuse in your day-to-day life and start small. For example, I know students really enjoy coffee and many, many, many places around campus will take your reusable cup.”

    Hulse was particularly inspired by her mother who showed her that small habits, like using reusable bags at the grocery store, can make a big change. Hulse encourages students to look for that positive influence around them and wants students to be that influence in their own sustainability journey.

    “A community that is pursuing zero waste imperfectly is far better than a few individuals doing it perfectly,” Hulse said.


  7. Zero Waste iCAP Meeting 11/7/2022

    On November 7th, the Zero Waste iCAP team met to discuss DIA sustainability initiatives with Tim Knox and made edits on the Project 4 Less expansion recommendation to be submitted in the coming month(s). 

    Meeting minutes are attached.

  8. Reasons for Recycling Rate Decrease

    Associated Project(s): 

    The reasons for the putative decrease in recycling rate include the increase in plastic production, flat change in recycling capacity, and China no longer accepting our recyclables. A Time magazine article further suggests that the estimated 9% recycling rate from 2018 was inflated because most of the plastic we sent to China was landfilled or incinerated. Another interesting point: an estimated 30-36% of collected PET is wasted in the recycling process.


    The original report can be accessed here: . Table 2 provides estimates and sources.

  9. Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) Supporting Member

    In Spring of 2022, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign became a Supporting Member for the Northeast Recycling Council’s (NERC).

    As an Advisory Member, we are invited to:


    • Submit articles for the Email Bulletin.  
    • Submit blogs – which will be advertised on social media.
    • Participate in four substantive committees:
      • glass markets
      • regional recycling markets
      • bottle bills
      • diversity, equity and inclusion
    • Participate in Projects or Initiatives:
  10. "Recycling 101: Start With Reduce, Reuse" -iSEE Newsletter

    The following passage is taken from an iSEE February Newsletter (the newsletter is attached below).


    Recycling 101: Start With Reduce, Reuse 

    Did you know less than 10 percent of plastic is recycled each year? Or that cardboard contaminated with grease or food can't be recycled? In "Recycling 101," iSEE intern Maria Maring outlines what can and can't be recycled on campus, recycling rules and resources in Champaign-Urbana, and tips from sustainability experts about what you can do to recycle effectively and keep waste out of the landfill. Most important: Remember that recycling is just one of the "three Rs," and that "reuse" and "reduce" are just as important in shrinking your environmental footprint!



    Attached Files: 
  11. Waste Management Question

    Associated Project(s): 

    A student reached out to Morgan White to ask if UIUC has its own recycling facility. Morgan explained UIUC has a Waste Transfer Station on campus, which collects and bales the recyclables which then get purchased from us by a regional waste hauling company. Basics of the Waste Management system can be found at Waste Reduction Plan 2020.docx in

  12. F&S March 2021 Insider: F&S Waste Management Department

    In its March 2021 edition, the F&S Insider highlights the efforts of the F&S Waste Management department to continuously reduce the total volume of waste being sent to a landfill. This short story addresses campuswide recycling and waste hauling in-depth, and iCAP's Zero Waste vision for the campus.

    To read more about the department's appreciated work, please see the attached file below.

  13. Registration Closing:Kyushu-Illinois Strategic Partnership Colloquia Series

    Join us on Feb.1 at 6pm for an exciting workshop highlighting the collaborative relationship between Illinois and Kyushu University faculty on the development of global CO2 recycling technology towards “beyond-zero” emission. This effort is within the framework of the Moonshot Program in I2CNER at Kyushu funded by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan. 

    Global Relations • Global Relations

    baseline_wifi_black_18dp.png This opportunity is available online