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Waste Stream Characterization Study Phase 3 (In Progress)

Recent Project Updates

Key Objective


In 2014, F&S and ISTC began collaboration on a two-phase waste characterization study and waste reduction opportunity assessment through the waste sampling of eight campus buildings and surveying of building occupants. ISTC assessed the buildings’ waste stream and occupant knowledge and satisfaction of current practices.


Nearly a decade later, F&S and ISTC aim to again characterize a sample size of waste on campus, engage stakeholders via focus groups, and propose opportunities for waste reduction and/or diversion. A key deliverable of this study is the forward-facing report, intended to serve not only as a guideline for F&S strategic implementation, but also as a public resource detailing the current waste management processes and initiatives at the U of I.


New to this study, ISTC will integrate an “activity zone” approach: classifying a building according to its primary purpose. Two representative buildings were identified for each of the four activity zones (academic, academic + laboratory, multi-activity, and student living), for a total of eight buildings. Results from and recommendations for each activity zone can be extrapolated and applied to other buildings that exist within the same zone.


From the waste characterization and stakeholder engagement results, F&S strives to:

  • Compare 2023 results to 2014 results to understand how campus waste has evolved over time.
  • Strengthen its relationships with campus buildings in the realm of waste management.
  • Gauge stakeholders’ (students, faculty, and staff) suggestions for ways to improve recyclable collection and waste reduction strategies.
  • Integrate ISTC recommendations for high-impact waste reduction strategies into F&S operations.



Characterizing campus waste and soliciting feedback from students, faculty, and staff on how F&S can better reduce or divert waste relates to iCAP Objective 5.2, “Reduce the total campus waste going to landfills from 5,049 tons in FY19 to 4,544 tons or less in FY24, which is a decrease of at least 10%.”


Campus began achieving this objective starting in 2020, when total landfilled waste fell below 5,049 tons. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving this objective may be attributed to this anomaly, or a sudden and drastic shift in operations. Only recently has campus activity started to resume to its usual frequency.

Integral to reducing landfilled waste on campus is understanding what characterizes that waste, and how its producers (students, faculty, and staff) interface with the waste management process. First, gauging stakeholders’ knowledge of current practices empowers F&S to effectively focus education and outreach initiatives to target audiences. Second, soliciting feedback from the campus community on how F&S might improve its waste management process enables the community to voice concerns and strengthen their existing relationship with F&S. A community-oriented approach to waste reduction and diversion is imperative for both achieving and maintaining the targets of iCAP objectives.

As the project relates most closely with iCAP Objective 5.2, “Reduce the total campus waste going to landfills from 5,049 tons in FY19 to 4,544 tons or less in FY24, which is a decrease of at least 10%,” the F&S-tracked landfilled waste metric will be the primary mode of monitoring and evaluating the project’s progress and environmental outcomes. Total campus waste going to landfills is tracked by fiscal year and hosted on the iCAP Portal.


A second metric relevant to the project is iCAP Objective 5.2.1, “Install appropriate waste collection infrastructure throughout the University District, with new indoor bins placed in at least 150 buildings by FY24.” Based on previous ISTC recommendations, F&S began the deployment of 3-stream bins across campus buildings. In this proposed waste characterization project, ISTC would ascertain the efficacy of the 3-stream bins in buildings which utilized them against buildings which did not (e.g. BIF and CIF). This metric would be another venue through which environmental impact can be monitored and evaluated.


In the short term, this project would be executed, and a resulting final report would be delivered. Through the information provided on the final report, F&S can, in the short term, plan for execution of initiatives that would produce the highest-impact results. Long term, F&S would expect that the total campus waste going to landfills would reduce. F&S would also expect, pending the results of the analysis, an increased interest from facilities in obtaining 3-stream bins (in the short and long term, depending on the available budget for purchasing new bins).

No description has been provided yet.

Project Team

  • Team Members:

    • Joy Scrogum
    • Savannah Feher
    • Zach Samaras
    • Dave Guth
    • Pete Varney
    • Dan Hiser
    • Shawn Patterson
    • Daphne Hulse

    Prior Contacts:

    • April Janssen
    • Meredith Moore


  • Proposed June 8, 2022
    Proposed by Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC)
    Investigated July 18, 2022
    Investigated by ISTC, iSEE, F&S, Illini Union