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Rethink Waste

University of Richmond has set an ambitious goal of 80% waste diversion by 2020. This means that by 2020, we are striving to have 80% of our waste recycled, composted, or donated for reuse instead of going to the landfill.

In order to achieve this goal, we need the help and participation of all faculty, staff, and students on campus. We would like to challenge you to Rethink Waste.

Though we talk about throwing things "away", all the materials that make their way into the waste bin end up somewhere else. There is no away. Far too often, our waste goes to the landfill. Although landfills help us keep our cities clean, there are better solutions. Landfills are anaerobic environments, which makes it very difficult for waste to decompose. Contamination can also occur if leachate - water that has percolated through landfill waste - leaks into groundwater or nearby habitats. Diverting recyclable and compostable items from the landfill to be made into valuable goods is a better option.

This campaign is all about rethinking our relationship with waste. When you dispose of an item, place it in the right receptacle to be recycled or composted, so those materials can be responsibly reused. If you think someone else may find value in an item you no longer want or need, donate it to be used again. Better yet, consider where an object or its packaging will end up once you are done with it before you purchase it. Factor that into your thinking when deciding what, and if, to buy.

Please contact sustainability@richmond.edu with any questions.

Read through guidelines for recycling and composting below and check out our tips for how you can reduce waste and be a green spider.

What can I recycle?

-Plastics 1-7, including disposable cups, shampoo bottles, water bottles, takeout containers, peanutbutter jars, and yogurt containers, among many other items.

-Clean cardboard

-Cartons

-Mixed paper

-Glass bottles and jars

-Aluminum

-Tin and aluminum cans

Items should be emptied of food or liquid before being recycled. Please pour excess liquids into a compost or landfill bin before placing items into a recycling receptacle. Soft plastic (like plastic wrap), straws, plastic utensils, and plastic-lined paper cups (ex: a paper cup from Starbucks) cannot be recycled.

What cannot be recycled?

-Food

-Liquids

-Plastic wrap

-Plastic wrappers

-Plastic grocery bags

-Greasy pizza boxes

-Styrofoam

-Straws

-Plastic utensils

-Paper or Styrofoam coffee cups

-Electronics (save these for the University's annual e-waste collection)

When any of the above items are put in a recycling bin, they contaminate that batch of recycling. After a certain amount of contamination, that whole bin's worth of material must be sent to the landfill. Reduce contamination by rinsing and emptying all plastic or glass bottles, jars, and containers before recycling them. 

What can be composted?

Heilman Dining Center currently composts over 40,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste each year.

What can I do with e-waste, like computers and batteries?

Batteries and electronics often contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment, so it's not a good idea to put these in a landfill bin. The University hosts an annual e-waste disposal event where you can bring batteries, electronics, hard drives, and more. 

Batteries can be recycled in the bin at Boatwright Library outside 815.

What can I donate?

-Donate office supplies through the UROSE Office Supply Exchange in Puryear 101A.

-Donate clothing, school supplies, small electronics, and more through Donation Stations in every residence hall's lounge or laundry room.

-Drop off items at Goodwill bins at Marsh Hall, North Court, or Lora Robins.

-Contact Facilities to donate office furniture.

-Donate items from your residence hall or apartment to the Big Yard Sale each May.

How can I reduce waste every day?

-Take a reusable bag with you for shopping

-Have a reusable water bottle or coffee cup on hand

-Skip the tray in the dining hall to reduce food waste

-Avoid printing when possible

-Carry a reusable cutlery set to avoid plastic spoons and forks

-Skip the straw when ordering a drink

-Shop for things second-hand before searching for a new item

-When eating out, bring a reusbale container instead of using a disposable take-home box

How can students get more involved?

-Become a Sustainability Advocate

-Take a sustainability related course

-Intern with the Office for Sustainability

-Join a student organization

-Attend or volunteer at Office for Sustainability events

How can faculty get more involved?

-Participate in a River City Project workshop

-Join a Faculty Learning Community

-Attend or volunteer at Office for Sustainability events

How can staff get more involved?

-Become a Green Office

-Join the Sustainability Staff Discussion Group

-Attend or volunteer at Office for Sustainability events

Who can I contact with questions?

Please direct your questions and comments to sustainability@richmond.edu.

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