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Projects Updates for Waste Stream Characterization Study Phase 3

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  1. Communications Update

    Daphne, thank you so much for your efforts to wrangle the various building representatives! Did you happen to get a response from the Illini Union yet? Looking through the other polls, it seems as if someone from all the other buildings would be available for walkthroughs on either September 11th or 12th, so if the Union is available on either of those days, we’d like to go ahead and start scheduling appointments for those two days. Having all the walkthroughs on two consecutive days will minimize travel for Zach, who will be coming down from Chicago to participate. If the Union simply isn’t available either day, we’ll just schedule a time after the 12th and plan for me to handle that without Zach.


    Speaking of scheduling, might I suggest that we go ahead and plan to conduct the building audits during the third week of October (16th-20th)? Looking at the academic calendar, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for that week to problematic in terms of student volunteer availability. I know maintenance of Memorial Stadium is the responsibility of DIA, not F&S, but I did check the football schedule too. There’s a game on Saturday the 21st, which also happens to be homecoming. If for some reason that makes you think it would be best to avoid audit activities on Friday the 20th, we could alternatively conduct the audits during the fourth week of October (23rd-27th). That week doesn’t seem to have any conflicts with the academic calendar or football schedule. I know it’s still a few months away, but because Zach and Savannah both will be traveling to Champaign for the audits, the sooner we settle on a week, the easier it will be to plan travel and other details leading up to the audits. If you have a preference for the third or fourth week in October based on F&S staffing and schedules, please let us know.


    Thanks for your comments on the draft sorting categories! I read through them and accordingly made some slight changes to sorting category descriptions; see the attached file. I also replied to some of your comments or edited a few of the plastic-related categories, explaining my reasoning in the comments. I think this is in good shape! Just let us know if you have additional questions or suggestions.


    Thanks so much, and good luck navigating move-in this week!


  2. ISTC-UIUC Waste Characterization Study: Draft Document Discussion

    Hey, all!!

    Thanks for the great meeting.

    We were glad to hear that Daphne liked the dining glass recycling numbers (130,955lb!), the process flow charts, and the BSW-related engagement section. We're moving ahead with the plan to publish the entire report, and we'll also work on making a clear and concise (1-3 page??) executive summary too. Here's what I got for notes:


    Daphne's to-dos:

    • P14. Send GFL Battle Creek info
    • P14. Hear back from GFL on Novelis info
    • P26. Investigate dining's Tin Can recycling??
    • P14. Keep working on Effective Diversion Rate calculation w interns
    • P17. Send public box file on (ordering MaxR??)
    • P43. Send Green basketball rates for March 3+5
    • Recommendation Table:
      • What other ideas do you have?
      • Any existing recs need higher priority/more detail?
      • Provide draft "responsible party" for each
    • Poke Dr. Garg for project updates?


    ISTC's to-dos:

    • P6 and P16. Include specific numbers of 245 MaxR bins, mostly 3-bin stations, across 70 buildings
      • Union has 9 with, 7 w/o shadowboxes
    • P14. Add a little more explanation of "auxiliary" -- means it has to "pay for itself," basically
      • But F&S still services external dumpsters
    • P14. Transition to F&S servicing/replacing outdoor bins happened at end of calendar 2023
      • Replacing bins -- currently ~50, but 125 dual bins by Fall 2024.
    • Make executive summary
      • Determine what's important to include
      • Determine how to present it / where to put that information (iCAP portal? ISTC website? Box?)


    Have a great Wednesday! We'll plan to meet again soon to discuss these items.



    Betsy Ruckman
    Sustainability Technician

  3. Follow up questions for the UIUC waste audit report

    Hi Daphne! Thanks again to you and Pete for taking time to review the preliminary audit data with us yesterday. As you have time to digest all of that, please let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to the FY 2023 tonnage stats for landfilled waste, commodities recycled, and the updated effective diversion rate calculations to include in the report. As promised, I wanted to follow up with some questions our team has as we work on the report:


    • How many campus buildings have at least one MaxR bin? says 63, but indicates number is 64. 64 is correct; I had yet to update the number on the iCAP portal by 1!
    • Does campus still send waste to Brickyard Disposal and Recycling, Inc., and is methane capture still happening at that landfill? We plan to note this in our report, as well as the life expectancy of that landfill (18 yrs.), based on IEPA info. No, our current contract with Green For Life (GFL) is with the Clinton, IL landfill which does not have methane capture.
    • Regarding destinations for recyclables (previously shared by F&S):
      • Does F&S take scrap metal to Mack’s Twin City Recycling in Urbana, or Mervis? I know I’ve heard this before but both company names begin with “M” and they’re both in Urbana, so I want to make sure I’m not mixing them up. Mervis is who we use for our scrap metal.
      • Graphic Packaging in Battle Creek, MI was on the list of destinations for cardboard collected on campus. However, that location seems to have been closed (see Is cardboard still sent to Graphic Packaging, and if so, which location? Good question. I sent an inquiry to our GFL rep who directly works with the mill buyers/brokers who take our recyclables. I will follow up with his response.
      • Novelis in Atlanta, GA was listed as a destination for aluminum, but looking at their website, that seems to be their corporate HQ. Can we confirm the destination location for Novelis? Working on receiving confirmation!
    • Clarifying current practices
      • All auxiliary units coordinate their own BSWs, correct? I know Housing, the Union, and Campus Rec do, but wanted to confirm this is true for other auxiliaries not included in the study. This is correct. Every auxiliary on campus has their own BSWs.
      • Are there any buildings on campus where cardboard is still being placed in the landfill dumpster as standard procedure, to be picked out later at the WTS, or is it the case that all buildings either have a cardboard dumpster or toters for cardboard collection? Yes, this is correct. If the carboard is grouped together and visible in the landfill dumpster, it can pretty easily be grabbed out when it is dumped at WTS. Similarly, are there any buildings on campus with such limited dock space that blue bags of recyclables are being put into the landfill dumpster for later recovery at the WTS? Yes, this does occur because of the limited dock space. In other words, are there buildings without adequate dock space even for toters for recyclables? I believe that was true in the past but want to confirm whether that is happening at all on campus as we work on process flow diagrams. Improvements are being made during new capital builds to include the perspective of waste management (BSWs, truck drivers) in the design process for buildings. We continually face the challenge that there is inadequate space outside of buildings to place more than 1 dumpster. This situation further emphasizes the need for correct color-coding of the bags.
      • When considering the “acceptable” materials list for paper bins, does “Office Paper: All Types” include shredded paper? I assume so but wanted to confirm. Yes, it includes shredded paper.
    • We currently have the following items highlighted under “Current Campus Waste Reduction & Diversion Initiatives” in the draft report:

    Please confirm that we should also add:

    • Recyclopedia Confirmed, let’s add!
    • Pilot transition to new paper towel dispensers (which will help reduce paper towel waste) Confirmed, let’s add!
      • 17 buildings transitioned to the new paper towel dispensers over the holiday break (December 2023 – January 2024). The Building Services team is slated to transition another clockstation or two during the summer break (June 2024 – July 2024), transitioning an additional 40-60 buildings to the new dispensers.
    • Anything else? Should we highlight LeanPath or other efforts related to organics (e.g. exploration of anaerobic digestion) given the amount of food scraps being sent to landfill?
    • If you could point us to relevant iCAP or other online information on additional programs to highlight, and/or provide suggested blurbs, we’d appreciate it!


    Thanks in advance!



    Hi Joy,


    Please see in red the responses to your questions in your previous email. Let me know if anything needs more clarification. I will follow up on the questions I didn’t immediately have an answer for. Recyclopedia will eventually be a webpage on the F&S website but for now I have the drafted word doc form to share.


    Question for you all – we have started up conversations with Tork/Essity for paper towel recycling in light of the preliminary results you shared with us last week. It’s a very telling story that paper towel recycling would be hugely beneficial for a campus that so heavily relies on the material. Would it be okay with you all for us to share the data with them/the drafted report you walked Pete and me through?


    Thank you,



  4. Waste Audit BSW Instruction Sheets

    Hello, All. In preparation for the campus building waste audits next week (Oct. 23-27), attached are instruction sheets for F&S BSWs at buildings that will be included in the study (BIF, CIF, Noyes Lab, & RAL). Separate, similar sheets will be sent to building contacts for those buildings that coordinate their own BSWs (Illini Union, ARC, and Allen Hall/LAR). Daphne had previously suggested sending these to both her and Pete since Pete might be out of the office. Macie, since I see Pete has an automatic email reply indicating that he’ll be out of town through the 30th, I’ve copied you as well; if there’s anyone else who should receive these in Pete’s absence, please feel free to forward the BSW sheets to them. Daphne and Macie, If you or any key stakeholders involved in communicating with BSWs have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. In case you need it during the week of the audits, my cell phone number is 217-979-7345.


    The ISTC team will plan to deploy gaylords to all buildings on Monday morning (Oct. 23). We’ll begin collecting samples from those gaylords as early as mid-day Monday—see the attached sampling schedule as well. The goal is to collect samples from each building for at least 2 days (dark green on the spreadsheet) with an optional third day (lighter green on the spreadsheet) if that’s needed to obtain adequate poundage for representative samples (unlikely but built into the plan nonetheless). BSWs are being asked to put trash and recycling into the gaylords first for as long as they’re present at the building, reverting to normal dumpsters/collection containers whenever the gaylords are full. To be clear, if, say, on Monday evening BSWs fill the gaylords up, they should not assume that they can ignore the gaylords on Tuesday evening. In that hypothetical situation, ISTC will have removed samples from the gaylords before Tuesday evening, so the BSWs should find that there’s room in the gaylords on Tuesday evening, and once again, use those first until they’re full before reverting to using the normal dumpsters.  I think we’ve conveyed that on the BSW sheets, but in case any of them ask any of you for clarification, I wanted to point this out. We’ll remove gaylords from buildings once adequate samples are in hand. When the gaylords are gone, BSWs can resume all normal operations.


    The trailer is being dropped off at the Waste Transfer Station (WTS) this Friday, Oct. 20th, and it will be picked up on Monday, Oct. 30th, as previously discussed with Shawn. Daphne, although we had asked you and Dan previously if F&S might have a truck we could borrow for sample collection, we were able to reserve one from the ISTC/PRI fleet for the entire week for that purpose. As previously discussed with Shawn, ISTC is providing the gaylords, but for the pallets beneath the various gaylords, we’ll plan to pull from the stockpile at the WTS.


    As Daphne is aware, there is a sign-up for volunteers to help with the sort at Thus far, no one has signed up; students often tend to wait until the last minute to sign up for things. Daphne, have you shared the link with the lists you had mentioned? I noticed that it was not included in the Eweek, so if you submitted it, they didn’t include it in this week’s edition, which would have been ideal. Thanks to Daphne, this did get included in the most recent edition of the iSEE newsletter. I posted it to the waste reduction and recycling Facebook group, to the PRI Sustainability Microsoft Team, and sent it via email to all ISTC staff based in Champaign (our director followed up with his own email encouraging folks to participate). I’ll also see if the Office of Civic Life will post it on their volunteer opportunities page. Please share the link with anyone or any group you think might be interested, especially interns or students involved in campus sustainability. We’ll have all ISTC zero-waste team hands on deck for this (including a new hourly employee we happily just hired) but having some additional volunteers would be helpful. And, because it’s common to have no-shows whenever volunteers are involved, the more we can spread the word, the better.


    Thanks to everyone, and our team looks forward to next week’s audit!



  5. Waste Audit Communications

    Hello, all. My name is Joy Scrogum and I’m a member of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) Technical Assistance Program (TAP). ISTC is working with F&S this fall to conduct waste audits of your buildings. Thank you to everyone who filled out the availability polls set up by Daphne Hulse, and to Daphne for gathering this information! I will be using the information you provided over the next few days to send representatives of each building an Outlook invitation for a walkthrough appointment with myself and my colleague, Zach Samaras, so be sure to watch your email inbox for those. Invitations will be for times on Monday, September 11, or Tuesday, September 12th. If the suggested time no longer works for you, please respond with suggested alternative times on the 11th or 12th as soon as possible, and we’ll do our best to accommodate you. Our goal is to schedule all walkthroughs on these two days to minimize travel expenses, so we really appreciate your cooperation. We are tentatively planning to conduct the building waste audits during the third week of October.


    Your walkthrough appointment with ISTC will take approximately half an hour of your time for each building involved. We will be interested in viewing the types and placement of trash and recycling bins, along with any associated signage throughout the building, and observing trash rooms, if applicable. We’ll want to fully understand the flow of landfill-bound and recyclable materials in your building, and the processes involved in collection from your perspective. We want to hear about any challenging materials and/or issues with contamination faced within your building, and we’d be happy to hear any suggestion you may have for improvements. We will also describe our audit procedures and logistics related to the collection of samples for the audits.


    We realize that building service workers are key stakeholders and are working with F&S to get a representative to share their perspective on operations at your building as well. When you receive your Outlook invitation, if you think there are additional individuals from your team who should be involved, feel free to forward the invitation to them. Please also edit your response to the invitation--or let us know in a separate email--where we should plan to connect with you on the day of the walkthrough (e.g., “just inside the main entrance on the north side of the building,” “outside at the loading dock,” or something similar).


    If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. My office phone number is in my signature below, and to assist with communication on the days of the walkthroughs, my cell phone number is 217-979-7345. Thank you in advance for taking time out of your busy schedules to speak with us and show us your facilities!





  6. ISTC sends the revised proposal to F&S

    From: Scrogum, Joy Joann <>
    Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2023 5:39 PM
    To: Hulse, Daphne Lauren <>
    Cc: Samaras, Zach <>; Feher, Savannah <>; Jacobson, Debra F <>
    Subject: Revised proposal for UIUC waste audit


    Daphne, as promised based on our conversation yesterday, attached is a revised version of the proposal for the campus waste audit. The attached is the same as the previous version of the proposal except for the following changes:

    • Mention of “tiers” has been removed from the text. What had previously been described as “Tier I,” along with its associated activity zones and buildings, is now the exclusive focus of the proposal. Estimated total project costs are those previously shown for the Tier I option ($37,958).
    • The timeline has been shifted so that the project starts in the Fall 2023 semester, as requested. We’ve preserved the same total number of months (seven) for the project, so the timeline now begins in August 2023 and ends in February 2024. If/when you’ve applied for and received matching funds from SSC, we can revisit the timeline if needed to address any reporting deadlines associated with SSC funding.
    • Kealie Vogel has been removed from the list of ISTC personnel and staff bios. A placeholder (“TBD, Senior Scientific Specialist”) has been included instead for her forthcoming replacement.


    Please let me know if you have any questions or if additional adjustments are needed. If we can provide a letter of support or any other assistance to you as you prepare your application for SSC funds, we’re happy to help!


    Best wishes,



    Joy Scrogum
    Assistant Scientist, Sustainability
    LEED Green Associate | Sustainability Excellence Professional (SEP)
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Prairie Research Institute
    Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC)
    Champaign, IL 61820


  7. ISTC sends a draft proposal to F&S

    From: Scrogum, Joy Joann <>
    Sent: Thursday, December 8, 2022 5:10 PM
    To: Hulse, Daphne Lauren <>
    Cc: Samaras, Zach <>; Feher, Savannah <>; Vogel, Kealie Diann <>
    Subject: UIUC 2023 waste audit proposal


    Hello, Daphne it was nice to speak with you earlier on the zero waste iCAP call. I’m glad our committee was able to submit the recommendation on expanding food recovery through Project4 Less to the iCAP Working Group and look forward to their response. Based on today’s discussion, I’m excited to tackle further priorities next semester, and I look forward to hearing more about the progression of the student project you shared.


    Attached is ISTC’s proposal for the waste characterization study we’ve discussed, including two options (Tier I and Tier II) for your consideration. I hope this accurately reflects your goals and expectations for the project. Please let me know if you have questions or would like to discuss further customization or adjustments to better match your needs. And of course, please let me know if you’re leaning toward pursuit of Tier I or Tier II based on estimated costs.


    We look forward to hearing from you,



    Joy Scrogum
    Assistant Scientist, Sustainability
    LEED Green Associate | Sustainability Excellence Professional (SEP)
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Prairie Research Institute
    Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC)
    Champaign, IL 61820

  8. F&S, ISTC, iSEE, and Illini Union meet to discuss the first steps of the waste characterization study

    From: Scrogum, Joy Joann <>
    Sent: Friday, September 30, 2022 4:18 PM
    To: Hulse, Daphne Lauren <>
    Cc: Samaras, Zach <>; Feher, Savannah <>; Vogel, Kealie Diann <>; Varney, Peter W <>
    Subject: Information available in the "UC Campus Waste Audit" group on Teams


    Daphne, thanks for taking the time to speak with our ISTC team this afternoon.


    As noted, the previous two UIUC building waste characterization reports (file names "Baseline_Waste_Stream_Characterization_Study_Final_Report" and "Waste characterization phase 2") are in the “Files” section of the “UC Campus Waste Audit” group on teams, so you can see the buildings previously audited and consider whether to include those in the new study for some temporal comparison.


    The document “Waste Audit Activity Zone Summary” provides links to our recent work with Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Missouri State University (MSU). When this document was originally added to Teams, the MSU plan had not yet been published, but it was released this month, so I’ve updated the file with a link to that plan. This summary document shows the activity zones defined at each university, the number of representative buildings analyzed within each zone, and refers to the specific pages within each respective plan in which activity zones are discussed. For all three of these campuses, ISTC conducted waste characterizations using the activity zone approach, summarized current waste management practices, and collected feedback from focus groups (we conducted the focus group sessions for Northwestern an UIC, but MSU conducted their own sessions virtually during the pandemic). We then worked with campus personnel to consider the data collected, along with their waste reduction and diversion goals, and formulated recommended strategies to reach those goals as part of waste management plans.


    Beyond focus group sessions, in past studies we’ve also collected feedback from conversations during building walkthroughs, as part of more informal conversations, and from surveys like the UIUC building occupant survey (also on Teams). We’re happy to work with you to find the right balance of approaches for your purposes. The questions from the previous building occupant survey, for example, need not be presented as part of a survey this time around. Perhaps those could be among the questions for discussion within in-person focus groups.


    Also within the files on Teams is a copy of an email in which I described the activity zone approach and put forth some possible zones for the UIUC campus, along with some campus buildings that might fall within them (including buildings that were part of previous waste characterizations).


    So, take some time to consider all of this material, and let me know some days/times that would work for your schedule later in October or early November to work with ISTC on the definition of activity zones, specific buildings to include, and whether/how to incorporate stakeholder engagement in ISTC’s proposal. We look forward to working with you!


    Best wishes,



    Joy Scrogum
    Assistant Scientist, Sustainability
    LEED Green Associate | Sustainability Excellence Professional (SEP)
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Prairie Research Institute
    Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC)
    Champaign, IL 61820