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Establish a Net Zero Waste Plan and Policy (Ongoing)


In February of 2008, campus signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions which included waste minimization as one of the recommended actions and required it to develop an institutional action plan within two years to become carbon neutral as soon as feasible (ACUPCC pledge, p. 1). In  May of 2010, campus submitted its Climate Action Plan (iCAP) which included a Procurement and Waste section, obligating campus to the following commitments:   to adopt a Zero Waste Policy by 2012, to implement a large-scale food composting project by 2012, and to increase the waste diversion rate to 75% by 2020.

The mission of this study is to assist campus in achieving its waste management goals with three steps.

1. Research the existing conditions of campus waste management activities. Reviewing campus’ existing waste management activities will provide a more accurate assessment of the current waste diversion rate, provide an update on current and projected composting activities and provide an estimate of the projected 2020 waste diversion rate given current activities.

2. Research waste management activities at other higher education facilities. Reviewing other higher education facilities’ waste management facilities will provide a menu of options that could be applied to campus operations if the conditions are similar between the schools and if the necessary resources are currently available or potentially acquirable.

3. Recommend policies and practices that will help reduce landfill and incineration tonnages and increase source reduction, reuse, repurpose and recycling tonnages.  Additionally, the study will estimate the impacts of implementing select policy and practice actions and project their impacts on reaching the 2020 diversion rate goal of 75%.

These steps and this report are the first of three phases for developing a Zero Waste Plan (ZWPlan) for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The next two phases will be (1) an assessment of the Procurement policies and processes currently in place, and (2) an approved and detailed plan for reaching Zero Waste on campus, including a campus Zero Waste Policy. 


According to Bill Sheehan of the Recyclers Network, a growing international Zero Waste Movement, is calling for radical resource efficiency and eliminating – rather than managing – waste. Zero Waste is a goal for how campus should responsibly manage materials and the energy required to make them. Zero Waste requires a “whole system” approach to resource management that implicates purchasing, maximizes recycling, minimizes waste, reduces consumption and ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired, or recycled back into the system. Zero Waste systems reduce greenhouse gases by saving energy, especially energy associated with extracting, processing, and transporting raw materials and waste. It also reduces, and eventually eliminates, the need for landfills and incinerators.


Project Team

  • Primary Contact:

    Shantanu Pai

    Project Leader:

    Morgan White

    Team Members:

    • Pete Varney

    Prior Contacts:

    • Bart Bartels
    • Marya Ryan
    • Marcus Ricci
    • Tracy Osby
    • Stephanie Lage
    • Brian Deal


Project Location(s)

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