University of Texas (UT) against blue sky in Austin, Texas

To reduce waste and divert more materials from landfills, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) has expanded its Zero Waste Workplace initiative — a program that launched during the spring 2018 semester. According to Waste 360 reports, the program that began as a pilot in one campus building is now being expanded to a second campus facility.

UT Austin has been conducting waste audits throughout campus since 2015. The audits were conducted by Resource Recovery, a branch of facilities services that is responsible for the efficient reuse and redistribution of campus resources.

The audits helped to identify areas for improvement as the university works toward achieving its zero waste goals. The audits showed that 40 percent of waste from education and general use buildings is compostable; 15 percent of materials sent to the landfill are recyclable in UT Austin’s current system; and multiple items that should be sent to Surplus Properties are being thrown away or left in the loading docks.

The Zero Waste Workplace program was developed based on those findings and includes changes to collection, recycling and composting on campus, as well as increased student and staff education and outreach about the university’s zero waste practices.

Restrooms will be one area of focus. Custodians in the building will start composting paper towels collected from restrooms rather than landfilling them. Currently, paper towels from restrooms make up 10 percent of the campus waste stream.

Also, to increase recycling rates and decrease contamination in the offices, desk-side trash bins will be replaced by desk-side mini bins. The mini bins hang on the standard recycling bins as a visual reminder to reduce waste.

The Zero Waste Workplace program is not the only reason UT Austin shines. The cleaning programs on campus have received various awards of late. Some include:
• (OS1) Green Certified Program of Excellence
• Safety Award
• Best Training Program (here is a snapshot of the program)
• Best Cleaning Team

For more information on the zero waste initiatives, click here.