In 2010, the United States generated about 250 million tons of trash (EPA 2011), of which
- 34% (85 million tons) was recycled,
- 12% (30 million tons) was burnt to generate energy, and
- 54% (135 million tons) was discarded.
Institutions such as businesses, schools, and hospitals generated 35-45% of this waste. They have an important part to play in waste reduction and recycling.
One of the greatest benefits to recycling is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Organic (carbon based) material sent to landfills creates carbon dioxide and methane emissions during decomposition. Recycling also reduces pollution that occurs during each stage in the life cycle of a consumer product- from raw material extraction to final disposal. Besides the rewards of taking care of the environment and living in a cleaner world, recycling also creates jobs and produces a more sustainable economy.
With the help of dedicated individuals and organizations on campus, Kentucky State University is making great strides toward sustainability. MES students see further opportunities for advancement.
Objectives: Reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, increase individual recycling habits, place responsibility of waste creation on the individual, and reduce trash bag use and cleaning time.
The mini-bin is a small trash bin no larger than a 20z bottle of soda that sits on an office desk. The mini-bin replaces a regular sized trash bin normally located next to office desks. Once the mini-bin becomes full, it is the responsibility of the office worker to empty his/her own waste into a few larger trash receptacles located in central locations in the office building. Only these receptacles are emptied by custodial staff.
Since 80-90% of all office waste is recyclable, the mini-bin encourages recycling behavior by removing the desire/temptation to throw everything away into a larger container that is cleaned on a regular basis and to think consciously about personal waste production.
Objectives: Reduce consumption by encouraging re-use and re-purposing.
An online exchange board, accessible to university faculty, staff, and administrative personnel, could facilitate the exchange, trade, or re-purposing of office equipment, supplies, and furniture among colleagues.
A similar exchange board for students could facilitate trade or redistribution of unwanted but still-useful items including clothing, electronics, or furniture.
These exchange programs might operate as campus-based groups within the national Freecycle network.