To meet its goal of climate neutrality, the University of Richmond is committed to becoming a “zero-waste” campus. Minimizing campus waste also reduces emissions beyond the campus, and because these efforts are often highly visible, they are a large contributor to environmental awareness throughout campus.
A variety of materials and products are used in the UR community, including construction materials, electronics, and office supplies. Simply disposing of these materials after they are no longer useful has environmental costs, including the release of green house gas emissions. In response, the sustainability office is working to improve recycling, establish reuse programs such as the office supply exchange, and develop policies to ensure University offices only purchase what they need and buy certified sustainable products whenever possible.
Recycling has been in place at the University since 1991, beginning as a coordinated effort between the University’s environmental services department and interested students. Today, the University has two dedicated recycling technicians working in facilities, and an extensive recycling program for a variety of materials. In 2009, UR produced 2,038.73 tons of waste, of which 700.39 tons (34.35 percent) were diverted from landfills through recycling and reuse.
When purchasing products and services, University offices are encouraged to consider third-party sustainability certifications—such as Green Seal, GreenGuard, Energy Star, and the Forest Stewardship Council—whenever possible. Contracts also have specifications for recycled content for custodial, office, and food service paper products; 80 percent of these products must contain 30% recycled content.
Students, faculty, and staff can reduce waste from carry-out food by using Dining Services' Lug-a-Mug for discounted beverages, and purchasing reusable food containers for a one-time fee.
In fall 2010, Heilman Dining Center began composting kitchen scraps. Dining Services also donates its used cooking grease to a local biodiesel production facility, which repurposed 2.85 tons of waste grease in 2009.