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Projects Updates for Achieve Zero Waste

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  1. Feasibility study for an anerobic digester on campus with Marcello Pbiri - Meeting 1

    Attendance: Tyler Swanson, Daphne Hulse, Meredith Moore, Sarthak Prasad, Shawn Maurer, Joy Scrogum, Justin Holding, Paul Foote, Shreya Mahajan, Brent Lewis, Jason Ensign, Tim Mies, Colleen Ruhter, Jonathon Mosley, Marcello, Thurman Etchison, Morgan White, Damon McFall, Robert Roman

    • UIC would like to do a screening analysis scenario for a small or micro-scale digester on campus
    • UIUC farms investigated this in the past with ACES
    • Marcello’s introduction: 200lbs of waste per day in a small-scale digester (in the shape of the container), frequent bottom-line thinking, it’s more about sustainability and the creation of green jobs, involving students, because the economics may be tight for money savings. But there are a few companies that are manufacturing small scale digesters. UIC had a speaker during their TEACH AD webinar who was a student from San Diego California. Installed one of these on their campus, student was the operator of the digester. Interested to see if this is something to be replicated at UIUC?
    • Morgan’s introduction: high-level feasibility analysis (not the most robust because of funding limitations). Hear from the college of ACES about a study of 10 years ago.
    • Marcello thinks the outcomes weren’t very favorable for this time? This is another possible scenario too. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is doing something similar. They are partnering with a farm which installed a small-scale digester in the farm for food waste and manure. The university owns the digester and the farmer owns the farmer, so it is a partnership. Maybe we could replicate this. These projects seem to become more and more feasible.
    • Marcello’s question for the group: what are the main motivations for UIUC to look into anaerobic digesters?
    • Reducing waste, looking at clean energy, protecting the planet
    • Do not have an environmentally beneficial or neutral solution for organic waste at the large scale for our campus. Dining is able to do the digester at the sanitary district, but we have animal waste and food waste at more than just the dining halls
    • Looking at how to get to carbon neutral energy. Anaerobic digestion was identified in 2010. Dean of Animal Science was ready to push for it, but then he was promoted and then retired
    • ACES has agreed with current dean to include the analysis of a large scale digester when they build a new dairy facility, but this is very far down the road
    • Swine modernization facility; needs to deal with waste that is there. animals will be added to this space in the future. looking into options for that particular facility.
    • Operational + research perspective, a micro-digester looks nice. Oshkosh does tours, internships, etc so it is like a pilot project to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology
    • Sanitary district is paid to receive the waste, and they get the benefit of seeing the methane capture
      • It would be good to see the benefits stay in house
    • Hypothetically you could create a new position for this, or you could do it through student intern. What happens to the residual material from the digester? can be used as fertilizer, grow food, use the food and food waste goes back to the digester “circular economy”

    Marcello’s second question: Takeaway for the old feasibility study?

    • It should be at the future dairy facility (conversations were had, maybe not in the study)
    • $10M capital cost, so it probably costs more now
    • Shared the energy output we would expect if we took all food waste from dining
    • Could use as compressed natural gas (CNG) for fleet vehicles
    • Combined heat and power (Abbott) which primarily uses natural gas, but could use biogas from an anaerobic digester, there is an opportunity here

    CHP, CNG or renewable natural gas are what Marcello is familiar with

    Next steps: Marcello will work on an updated feasibility study.


    Link to the recording

  2. Multiple schools (OSU, UMich, Purdue) begin involvement with the creation of the survey

    Thank you Mary and Daphne!  The way that Mary worded the question is great to me! 


    Daphne, if it is not too bold of me to ask, I was wondering if there might be opportunities to add more questions to the Survey?  I ask as I was recently emailing with the Michigan folks (copied) and both our institutions are interested in pulling together some waste related benchmarking data, specifically around their individual waste goals and how they measure it (hence the diversion rate calculation question).  I am hoping that there is a way we might be able to collaborate, whether that is collaborating through your current survey or perhaps supplementing the data.  That being said, I know very little about the survey, its timeline, the questions, etc.; thus, a collaboration may not be feasible. If you believe a collaboration might be feasible, I would be happy to coordinate a quick schedule where we could discuss how Purdue staff and/or students could assist.  I am interested to hear your thoughts!


    Thank you,



    From: Leciejewski, Mary <>
    Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2022 8:43 AM
    To: Hulse, Daphne Lauren <>
    Cc: Szal, Dominika Patrycja <>; Anthony Gillund <>
    Subject: RE: Big Ten Waste Management Survey: Diversion Rate Calculation


    ---- External Email: Use caution with attachments, links, or sharing data ----




    Apologies for the delay- I was out of the office last week and am still getting caught up.


    Thank you so much for including that question in your survey!


    One item might be to ask, “What information do you include in your diversion rate report?”


    Ohio State includes the following:

    Landfill tonnage data

    Commingled recycling

    Reused pallets

    Recycled pallets

    Scrap metal

    Landscape waste

    Composted food scraps, biodegradable materials, coffee grounds, and animal bedding from labs

    Biodigested food waste (ex. enviropure systems)

    Donations of furniture and other items

    Motor oil

    Tire Recycling

    Cooking oil recycling

    Donated food


    Paper shredding


    Recycled toner cartridges

    Donated books

    Reprocessed medical devices


    We do not include construction waste or manure from farms. We also do not estimate avoided materials (ex. weights kept out of landfill through projects like implementing hand dryers or reusable containers). Instead, we just assume those numbers will be kept out of the landfill data.


    I’m looping in Tony to make sure I got to the hear of his question. Please let me know if you need anything else! Mary


    Mary Leciejewski
    Zero Waste Manager

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers 

    Facilities Operations and Development, Sustainability & Strategic Services
    1130 Service Building Annex | 2578 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210
    (O) 614.292.3637






    From: Hulse, Daphne Lauren <>
    Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2022 11:58 AM
    To: Leciejewski, Mary <>
    Cc: Szal, Dominika Patrycja <>
    Subject: Big Ten Waste Management Survey: Diversion Rate Calculation


    Hi Mary, It was great to meet with you and the other Big Ten schools last week! Per the request to include the diversion rate calculation as a part of the comprehensive survey, could I inquire about OSU’s process? ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍ ‍


    Hi Mary,


    It was great to meet with you and the other Big Ten schools last week! Per the request to include the diversion rate calculation as a part of the comprehensive survey, could I inquire about OSU’s process?


    Thank you,




    Daphne Hulse (she/her)
    Zero Waste Coordinator
    Facilities & Services | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    +1 (217) 333-7550 |

  3. Ohio State University includes the waste survey as part of the agenda for the upcoming BTAF meeting, to solicit a better survey response rate

    From: Leciejewski, Mary
    Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2022 12:19 PM
    To: Hulse, Daphne Lauren
    Cc: Szal, Dominika Patrycja
    Subject: RE: Scheduling a Waste Management Survey


    Hi Daphne,


    Pleasure speaking with you last week. I was going to send out an agenda for the Big 10 and Friends meeting on Thursday. Are you still interested in introducing yourself and your project to try to solicit a better response rate? If so, I can put you on the agenda.


    Thanks! Mary

  4. Dominika Szal and Daphne Hulse continue the work on the waste survey



    I know the information might've been a lot, so here's just a quick summary regarding what is left to do:

    • Reach out to the following universities to ask questions:
      • University of Wisconsin-Madison
      • University of Iowa
      •  University of Minnesota
      • Rutgers
      • University of Maryland
      • Illinois State University (ISU)
      • Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (SIUC)
      • Eastern Illinois University (EIU)
      • University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS)
      • Michigan State University
    • See if we can get the contacts for UIS, SIUC, and EIU. I found the contact person for ISU, but I will need to find her email. I'll try to update the file if I can find it.
    • Set up meetings with Ohio State University and University of Michigan. I've already contacted them before but haven't gotten back to them regarding Zoom scheduling.
    • Any responses that you get regarding the survey should be filled out in the Big 10 spreadsheet located in this filepath: G:\Recycling & Waste\Big 10 Recycling

    I bolded the main contact that you should email for each respective university. If someone else ends up answering, please make note of their contact info. You can use/adjust the introduction I already have typed up in the Box file labeled "Big 10 Survey" when contacting people. If you want me to do some of the contacting, just let me know.


    Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions :)


    From: Hulse, Daphne Lauren <>
    Sent: Wednesday, September 7, 2022 15:44
    To: Szal, Dominika Patrycja <>
    Subject: Hi!


    This is my main email – feel free to send over anything about the Big 10 project here!



  5. Waste Transfer Station Tour and Plastics Request

    Associated Project(s): 

    Deke Weaver, Professor in the School of Art & Design, requested a tour of the Waste Transfer Station, as well as asked the following questions: 

    1. Do any of you have a rough estimate of how many plastic water bottles the U of I population goes through in a day (week, month, year)?

    2. Would it be possible to collect a few of the plastic water bottles from the recycling center for this project?

    Weaver is working on a public engagement piece about the oceans, climate, plastics and interconnected ecosystems and needs approximately 2500-4000 bottles. The project is a whale sculpture named CETACEAN. 

    Shawn Patterson from Facilities & Services replied explaining that the waste transfer station acquires 2-3 thousand pounds of plastics each month and will be able to accommodate the professor's need for plastics.

  6. Incorporation of Post Consumer Pizza Boxes in the Recovered Fiber Stream Study - WestRock

    Associated Project(s): 

    A study was conducted to analyze the impact of incorporating post-consumer pizza boxes in the recovered fiber stream. More specifically, factors such as grease and cheese were primarily observed. The summary of the findings includes the following:

    • The number of pizza boxes placed on the market in the U.S. annually is estimated to be 3 billion boxes equating to 600,000 tons of corrugated board. Pizza boxes represent 1.7% of the 35.9 million tons of corrugated containerboard produced in the U.S. annually.
    • If all pizza boxes were recovered for recycling, they would represent approximately 2.6% of the OCC stream or 2.2% of the OCC and mixed paper stream combined.
    • Pizza boxes currently found in the recycling stream have an average grease content of approximately 1-2% by weight level.
    • Grease is hydrophobic and when pizza boxes approach a 20 wt% concentration of the furnish, grease interference with inter-fiber bonding begins to result in significant paper strength loss (~5%). At pizza box concentrations under 10%, paper strength loss is low.
    • The strength loss as a function of “greasy” fiber and pre-consumer board was almost linear in the 0-20 wt% blend level.
    • Cheese, comprised of fats and proteins, is hydrophilic and does not hinder hydrogen inter-fiber bonding of fibers. Cheese tends to solidify and get screened out during the pulping process.

    To read the study in its entirety, see the attached file.

  7. Water bottle reduction at the Union

    Associated Project(s): 

    Per J.B. Bailey, the Assistant Director for Programming, the Union includes marketing on all events that the Union has water filling stations near where the event is occurring and encouraging students to bring their own bottles to fill up there. The goal is that this will allow us to reduce the amount of disposable cups we provide at our events where drinks are provided. The board has also discussed not providing plastic water bottles as give-a-ways moving forward. 

  8. Meeting with Lisa Jackson re: new student swag

    Meredith Moore and Jennifer Fraterrigo met with Dr. Lisa Jackson, Director of New Student Programs within Student Affairs to discuss new student swag. The goal is to promote sustainability and reduce plastic waste. The meeting notes are attached. 

  9. Paper Bottles

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Heaton, Emily <heaton6 at>
    Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2022 9:55 AM
    To: Kidwell, Kimberlee K <kkidwell at>
    Subject: from our meeting now - paper bottles


    Hi Kim,

    As we move to a circular carbon economy and consider a pulping plant in central Illinois, this paper bottle company looks interesting. Has opportunity for people to buy bottles and to start manufacturing Also compostable with a screw on top!


  10. meeting with F&S and iSEE about Zero Waste programs

    iSEE and F&S met to discuss commodity recyclables at F&S and the interest in looking at getting Coke to buy our PET, the Zero Waste messaging campaign and potential collaboration with Coke on the messaging for our Use the Bin campaign.  Also, Coke offers a tailgate package that may be helpful in our conversations about increasing recycling at athletic events.

  11. Zero Waste iCAP Team Meeting

    The Zero Waste iCAP Team met for their final meeting of the semester on Thursday, April 28. The team finalized drafting a recommendation on updating the Campus Administrative Manual's Waste Minimization Policy and set potential objectives for the upcoming academic year. Meeting minutes are attached.

    Attached Files: 
  12. Zero Waste iCAP Team Meeting

    The Zero Waste iCAP Team met for their final meeting of the semester on Thursday, April 28. The team finalized drafting a recommendation on updating the Campus Administrative Manual's Waste Minimization Policy and set potential objectives for the upcoming academic year. Meeting minutes are attached.

    Attached Files: 
  13. EPA Waste Management Webinar Presentation

    Meredith Moore (iSEE) and Sydney Trimble (F&S) presented at the EPA Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Web Academy Webinar: University Best Practices in Waste Stream Management on 4-28-22. The presentation is attached. 

    Click here for more information.

    "This webinar session will highlight best practices in university materials and waste stream management, including reduce, reuse, and recycle principles. Participants will learn about the excellent waste reduction programs at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Colorado State University, and The Ohio State University. Our speakers will share proven practices that help colleges and universities minimize waste generation and promote materials reuse. Attendees will also learn about ongoing university case studies and projects involving waste characterization as well as other programs assisting campuses in achieving sustainability goals."

  14. Cell Phone and Electronic Waste

    A team of Design for America students worked on a year-long project diving into cell phone and electronic waste. The attached poster is the culmination of their work across the '21/'22 school year. We wish the DFA student team luck in all their future endeavors.

    DFA Team: Koshal Raghavarapu, Ananya Barman, Pooja Tetali, & Aashi Tyagi

  15. Zero Waste Team Meeting

    The Zero Waste iCAP Team met on Thursday, April 14 to discuss revisions to the Campus Administration Manual's Waste Minimization Policy which the team intends to submit to the iWG. Meeting minutes and proposed revisions are attached.