Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs graduate students Alexandra Sargent and Awa Sall — in collaboration with Scott Miller’s Principles of Zero Waste course, Ohio University Campus Recycling, and the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative — are proud to present the Voinovich School Race to Zero Waste, held in Buildings 19, 21 and 22 throughout the month of March.
The Race to Zero Waste is a campaign to upgrade the Voinovich School’s waste management system to a zero waste structure. To that end, organizers have established:
- Zero Waste deskside systems with small trash bins attached to large blue recycling cans. Mixed recycling includes all paper, bottles, cans, #1-#7 plastics, plastic bags, cartons and cardboard together — no sorting required. Common trash items include Styrofoam, Mylar chip bags and many granola bar/energy bar wrappers.
- Compost bins in every break rooms. Compostable items include all food waste, napkins, and paper towels. Paper towels, tissue paper and napkins should be composted rather than recycled; the wood fibers in these products are so small that they do not recycle well.
- Paper towel composting in the rest rooms. It is imperative that these remain paper towels only. Small trash bins remain in the restrooms for hand wipes, personal items and other landfill materials.
- Cabinets for hard-to-recycle items in every building. Batteries, lightbulbs, electronics, toner cartridges, and DVDs and CDs can be placed in these cabinets.
The Race to Zero Waste is a pilot program of RecycleMania, a friendly competition to promote waste reduction that began as a match between Ohio University and Miami University and has expanded to hundreds of colleges across the United States and Canada. The Voinovich School is one of 12 schools nationwide that has agreed to take on the Race to Zero Waste challenge to test how user-friendly these methods are in a university office environment. This model has proven successful at other universities across the country.
Zero waste is an attainable goal at the Voinovich School. Preliminary audits of waste produced in Buildings 19, 21 and 22 have shown that the Voinovich facilities are currently recycling at a 66 percent recovery rate, yet 92.8 percent of waste currently generated at the Voinovich School is recyclable or compostable. At this time, anything above a 90 percent recovery rate is considered success in RecycleMania’s Race to Zero Waste. Given this data, and continued waste reduction efforts, organizers believe that rates of 95 percent or higher are genuinely achievable.
Voinovich School faculty, staff and students are encouraged to provide their input on this initiative. Those who have not already filled out the internal survey on zero waste perceptions and attitudes are encouraged to do so here. Follow up surveys and a case study will be produced at the end of the four-week pilot period. Once demonstrated successful, the model may be implemented incrementally across all Ohio University departments and academic buildings.
Watch for new articles on the Race to Zero Waste every week in Impact & Innovation, with topics such as paper reduction strategies, the OHIO Sustainability Plan and Green Event Guide, and home recycling methods.
The Voinovich School collaborates with community partner Rural Action on the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, a project funded by the Sugar Bush Foundation, a supporting organization of the Ohio University Foundation.