Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.01
Liaison Patrick McKee
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 8.00 Richard Miller
Director
Ofice of Environmental Policy
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 1,192.44 Tons 985.36 Tons
Materials composted 1,302.16 Tons 0 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 109.41 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 2,773.94 Tons 5,362.50 Tons
Total waste generated 5,377.95 Tons 6,347.86 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility, including affirmation that materials are sorted prior to conversion to recover recyclables and compostable materials:
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Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year Jan. 1, 2019 Dec. 31, 2019
Baseline Year Jan. 1, 2005 Dec. 31, 2005

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted (e.g. in sustainability plans and policies or in the context of other reporting obligations):
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Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 12,104 11,524
Number of employees resident on-site 35 26
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 8 8
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 21,365 18,616
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 4,314.78 4,570.29
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 239.30 0
Weighted campus users 22,123.11 20,285.22

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.24 Tons 0.31 Tons

Percentage reduction in total waste generated per weighted campus user from baseline:
22.32

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling, performance year:
48.42

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator (including up to 10 percent attributable to post-recycling residual conversion):
48.42

In the waste figures reported above, has the institution recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold the following materials?:
Yes or No
Paper, plastics, glass, metals, and other recyclable containers Yes
Food Yes
Cooking oil No
Plant materials Yes
Animal bedding Yes
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets Yes
Tires No
Other (please specify below) Yes

A brief description of other materials the institution has recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold:

The University of Connecticut also recycles clean fill material, diverting it from incineration.


Materials intended for disposal but subsequently recovered and reused on campus, performance year (e.g. materials that are actively diverted from the landfill or incinerator and refurbished/repurposed) :
510.20 Tons

Does the institution use single stream recycling (a single container for commingled recyclables) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:
Yes

Does the institution use dual stream (two separate containers for recyclables, e.g. one for paper and another for plastic, glass, and metals) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:
No

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling (multiple containers that further separate different types of materials) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:
No

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program (percentage, 0-100):
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A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed, e.g. efforts to minimize contamination and/or monitor the discard rates of the materials recovery facilities and mills to which materials are diverted:

Facility Operations and Building Services, with the help of an Office of Sustainability Intern, has started a new initiative in 2017 to systematically audit all the high traffic areas on campus to find and replace outdated recycle bins with newly labeled and uniform bins. This effort has made a difference in eliminating confusing waste receptacles and ensuring that correct bags (black for trash, clear for recycling) are utilized to prevent contamination.

The Student Union was the main building retrofitted during 2019. The two main methods of recycling quality control that we have found to be effective are using “Saturn Lids” on the recycling bins and coupling recycling and garbage bins together. The Saturn Lids, pictured in a link below, have a slot that signifies paper should be discarded there, but also a circle in the middle of that slot that signified bottles and cans can also be placed in the same bin. Based on surveys of the general student body, we have found that the messaging of “single stream recycling” is often confused with the idea that all recycling and garbage can be placed in the same bin. The Saturn Lids eliminate this problem because the tops are shaped specifically so that only recyclable materials can fit inside.
Coupling recycling and garbage bins together also controls recycling quality because students are likely to dispose of their waste, whether it be recyclable or not, in the nearest receptacle. When both options are available in one spot, they are more likely to dispose of their waste properly.

Additional quality control mechanisms are maintaining proper signage that clearly show what can and cannot be recycled and using clear bags for recycling and black bags for trash to ensure proper sorting by custodial staff and our waste hauler.


A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives, e.g. initiatives to shift individual attitudes and practices such as signage and competitions:

In both the fall and spring of 2019, the Office of Sustainability organized month-long competitions among residence halls to see which recycling hall could recycle most effectively. Recycling behavior was quantified through “compliance,” which was based on the level of contamination in the trash and recycling streams. Student auditors were responsible for evaluating compliance, as well as educating and engaging their peers about the importance of proper recycling habits. In both competitions, compliance improved over time, reflecting the power of competition in shaping behavior.

The Office of Sustainability has worked with Barnes & Noble, the operators of the UConn Bookstore, to institute an “Eco-Coin” initiative where students can opt out of using a single-use bag and instead receive a coin that represents a 5 cent donation to one of three efforts: Habitat for Humanity, CLiCK, a local nonprofit, or the UConn Sustainability fund. This has contributed to creating a culture of bringing reusable bags to stores and recognizing that not every purchase needs to be put in a wasteful single-use bag. Furthermore, Dining Services eliminated plastic bags from all of their To-Go food operations starting in 2019. Lastly, UConn students have partnered with the Town of Mansfield to institute the Town’s Bring Your Own Bag ordinance, which went into effect in March of 2019, banning single-use plastic bags and encouraging the use of reusable options.
https://dining.uconn.edu/reduce-single-use-plastics/
https://www.mansfieldct.gov/1586/Reusable-Bag-Campaign

There are also movements for the installation of more “Hydration Stations” throughout campus, which offer clean, cold, and convenient water refill stations. These stations can be conveniently found at over 60 locations across campus, with plans to install more.. The university hopes to encourage students to use reusable water bottles as they stay hydrated throughout the day instead of one-time use, resource intensive, plastic water bottles.

Another waste-related behavior change initiative is the newly-revamped “Green Piece” reusable container program in which students can purchase their meals at the Union Street Market Food Court. The container is now completely free to the consumer and new marketing materials remind students to ask for a Green Piece. The reusable containers have been designed for repeated use and are dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, and incorporated with Microban (NSF-approved). When a customer is finished with their meal, they return the container to the designated drop-off bin inside the Union Street Market or to any cashier. Then, the used containers are cleaned and sanitized in our dish machine before being restocked at service stations.

Lastly, if you use a reusable mug at a UConn café, the price is marked as a refill, which is approximately 50 percent cheaper than a cup of coffee in a disposable coffee up.

https://dining.uconn.edu/re-usable-mugs/
https://dining.uconn.edu/thegreenpiece/


A brief description of the institution's waste audits and other initiatives to assess its materials management efforts and identify areas for improvement:

As mentioned previously, the Office of Sustainability has Facility Operations and Building Services, with the help of an Office of Sustainability Intern, has started a new initiative in 2017 to systematically audit all the high traffic areas on campus to find and replace outdated recycle bins with newly labeled and uniform bins.

In addition, the Office of Sustainability led two residence hall recycling compliance competitions in 2019, known as “RecycleThon”. In these competitions, student auditors evaluated recycling behavior based on the level of contamination in the trash and recycling streams. Auditors also made note of incorrectly labeled or uncoupled bins. The data from these audits is being used to guide future outreach and education initiatives as well as waste infrastructure improvements by Facilities Operations and Building Services.
Lastly, the Office of Sustainability partnered with Facilities Operations and Building Services to conduct custodial staff training sessions on proper waste handling. The goals of the training were to educate staff on separating waste properly (bag color), identifying contamination, and notifying their supervisor of any uncoupled bins. Pamphlets were provided to each staff member in English or Spanish, depending on their preferred language.


A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste (e.g. by minimizing packaging and purchasing in bulk):

Many offices across campus purchase snacks, coffee, and office supplies in bulk to share. This behavior is emphasized in the Green Office Certification Program, which guides offices in improving their sustainability. Further, Dining Services purchases in bulk and has nearly eliminated all purchases that contain Styrofoam packaging. Hydration stations have also been installed in over 60 locations throughout campus, which prevent waste generated from single use water bottles and plastic water jugs.


A brief description of the institution's surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

The University Surplus Program allows UConn departments to send their unwanted equipment, furniture, and supplies to the Surplus Store where they will either be recycled or reused. There are showroom hours every Tuesday and Thursday during which UConn departments can peruse the supplies and tag which items they want. There are also public surplus store hours held the second Friday of every month for UConn and the surrounding community to come and buy the used supplies.
https://surplus.ubs.uconn.edu/


A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse (e.g. of electronics, furnishings, books and other goods):

The UConn Bookstore has a variety of platforms in place that encourage the reuse of textbooks among students. For example, students can rent their textbooks, which they return at the end of the semester, for a reduced price. There are also used textbooks that students can buy at a reduced price instead of buying the brand new book. The bookstore will also buy back textbooks from students that can then be sold the next year.


A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption (e.g. restricting free printing and/or mandating doubled-sided printing in libraries and computer labs):

The printers on campus cost 5 cents per side for black and white and 15 cents per side for color, and many computers across campus have double-sided printing as their default. Double sided printing and using print preview before printing in order to minimize the need for reprinting is a highlighted behavior change in the Green Office Certification Program offered to UConn offices to improve their sustainability.
The University instituted a program in 2019 called HuskyPrint, whose goals are to make printing more efficient and productive by allowing students to upload documents to an online portal before printing. This portal enables students to select only the desired document at the printer and avoid printing multiple versions or wrong documents. Benefits of the program include reduction in energy usage and paper consumption.


A brief description of the institution's initiatives to make materials (e.g. course catalogs, course schedules, and directories) available online by default rather than printing them:

All course catalogs, major requirements, and teaching evaluation surveys are online. All schedules, transcripts, fees, and other business are all handled online via the People Soft student administration system.

For academics, nearly all professors utilize HuskyCT, a website by Blackboard, where they can post all course materials and accept assignment submissions as opposed to collecting and distributing paper copies.


A brief description of the institution's program to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:

At the end of each spring semester, the UConn Community Outreach office hosts Give & Go, a program that diverts undergraduate move-out waste from being thrown away. The materials that are collected from drop off areas across campus are donated to a variety of local charities. In 2019, a total of 5,263.7 pounds of donated goods were collected.


A brief description of the institution's programs or initiatives to recover and reuse other materials intended for disposal:

Agricultural waste, such as manure and animal bedding, from the University farm are composted annually with 1000 tons composted in 2019. In addition, Dining Services has a pre- and post- consumer food waste diversion program in which food waste is being sent to Quantum Biopower in Southington, CT, where it is anaerobically digested and converted into renewable biogas. The remaining co-product is used for livestock bedding, compost, and fertilizer. This program has recently been scaled up in 2019 to include all eight dining halls and catering operations. Further expansion is expected in the future.
Furthermore, in partnership with UConn Dining Services and UConn Community Outreach, Food Recovery collects and delivers surplus food to the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, CT. This diverts food waste from incineration and benefits local community members in need.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Notes about the submission (public):
Assume 1 cubic yard of landscape waste= ~650 kg
The weight value for materials reused, donated, or resold was not quantified for the 2005 baselines but the dollar value was $60,782

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.