The University is honored to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise Region 2 Award in waste diversion for 2017. WasteWise was started in 1994 by the EPA to promote sustainable practices in materials management. Organizations and businesses choose to join the program as partners, endorsers, or both. The University of Rochester, as a partner of the WasteWise program, must show how they reduce waste, practice environmental stewardship, and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste-handling processes.
In order to be a part of the WasteWise program, a business or organization must submit annual data for the previous year on materials management and waste-handling and also establish a quantitative goal for the next year that improves upon the waste diverted from the previous year. The basis for this award was the data submitted for 2016. Some of the University’s waste reduction highlights include:
- A grant awarded by the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling (NYSAR3) for a plastic bag reduction project created by a group of student EcoReps.
- The Green Dandelion sustainability blog reached 1,000 articles.
- A departmental competition was launched in March for the eyeglasses collection program to create the most “eye-catching” collection box. A total of 672 pairs of glasses were collected and donated to the Lions Club.
- A Green Office Guide was created to serve as a resource to University of Rochester departments.
- Shred Fest collected 18,220 pounds of paper to be recycled, marking it as the second largest paper event to date.
- E-Cycle Day collected a total of 28,132 pounds of material – outweighing 2015’s total by more than 1,500 pounds!
- The University of Rochester ranked #4 out of 78 schools nation-side in the 2016 GameDay Recycling Challenge with a waste diversion rate of 91.2% ; a zero-waste event.
Sustainability Coordinator Amy Kadrie talks about the many waste reduction programs she coordinates saying, “I’m always especially grateful for the volunteers who help with E-Cycle Day, Shred Fest and GameDay. Without a formal waste reduction or sustainability office, I depend on these people to make our programs successful. They show up because they believe in the programs and are passionate about what we do. And those vibes only spread to our event participants who are also grateful for what we do. What a great feeling!”
The United States are divided into 10 regions by the EPA. The University of Rochester falls into Region 2, which consists of New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, tribal nations, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The University of Rochester is one of 12 winners from Region 2; other notable winners from Region 2 include Estee Lauder, the University at Albany, and St. John’s University.
WasteWise promotes the use and reuse of materials in order to extend the life cycles and productivity of those materials. This program works with large companies and organizations in order to produce real and significant reductions on industrial waste. WasteWise participants range from local non-profit organizations to large multinational companies.
16Written by Mariah Greico, Class of 2018