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Division of Student Affairs

University Recreation on the way to achieving zero waste

Department: Division of Student Affairs

This summer University Recreation and University Catering served up food for 4,000 students during this summer’s ten New Coug Orientation sessions.

Of the 792-pounds of waste created by these barbecues, only a half-pound of it ended up in the landfill. The remainder was either composted or recycled. By comparison, the barbecues last summer generated 812-pounds of waste with three pounds going to the landfill.

“At nine of the 10 barbecues we were able to divert all of the waste generated,” said Cameron Adams, coordinator of facility operations at University Recreation. “As we continue to move forward with our sustainability efforts, this is a big win for us.”

In 2013 University Recreation identified sustainability as one of its primary values. That led to the creation of the Zero Waste initiative and staff began to deliberately change the department culture with regard to sustainability.

Adams said the key to their success with the barbecues is placing staff near the waste bins to help educate students on what items are recyclable and where to deposit them. Dining Services also plays a key role by providing students with plates, napkins, cups, and eating utensils that are compostable.

In keeping with University Recreation’s goal of having zero waste, Adams said UREC staff will continue to be vigilant and strive to divert even more trash from the landfill next summer.

“This year’s numbers are going to be difficult to beat,” he said. “But we are getting amazingly close to being able to divert all waste from the barbecues from the landfill.”

To learn more about UREC’s commitment to sustainability, visit