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Sustainable Waste Management

Below is the Waste section of the 2021 Ohio University Sustainability & Climate Action Plan 

Waste category, SCAP

Comments and responses from public forums on the Sustainability & Climate Action Plan Waste section:

Do the goals, metrics and targets in the this category of the draft 2021 OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan seem appropriate to you?  Response
The only thing I would edit in regard to goals/metrics/targets would be the food diversion target in goal 2. That should be higher than a 5% increase—80% or 85% seems more reasonable to me. Otherwise, I think goals/metrics/targets all check out. Thank you for your feedback. The food waste diversion target was higher in the past Sustainability Plan, but the University has been unable to reach a higher percentage despite many efforts. Culinary Services diverts almost all (>98%) of their pre-consumer food waste, as well as most post-consumer food waste in dining halls. This goal is based on what our Auxiliaries and Facilities departments are prepared to achieve in the five-year period, based on staffing, resources, current programs, etc.
Do the strategies to reach the targets in this category of the draft 2021 OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan seem appropriate to you? Response
Recycling education is a necessary program to prevent stream contamination and to promote a cleaner campus. There is a need for education for residence hall students and I feel composting bins should also become an option near residence halls. Thank you for your comments, Campus Recycling and Zero Waste will continue educational campaigns, including through a collaboration with Athletics. Climate & Sustainability Ambassadors will continue to assist on education, including as "bin goalies."  Residential Life composting programs will continue to be examined as there are numerous issues to be resolved.  A pilot program occurred in Bryan Hall during the 2020-21 academic year.

I believe that most of the strategies are conceptually very useful and, if implemented with care, can be proven effective.


However, I would like to make sure that there is special emphasis placed on empowering students to be the changemakers. For example, many of my friends who are international students have told me that they never received any training or education during the entirety of their orientation about recycling on campus. I have had to teach them the basics of what to put in the blue can vs. the black can, which they obviously pick up on quickly once educated. I would suggest to make a more concerted effort to include this information in their orientation and throughout the many international student events on campus.

In addition, I think that it would benefit OU in the long term to offer each incoming student (undergraduate, graduate, transfer, etc.) a reusable, stainless steel cutlery/straw pack when they start at OU. This would eliminate an enormous percentage of one-use plastic cutlery across campus. If ordered from a company like Ten Tree then OU would also be supporting global reforestation efforts, essentially offsetting a small percentage of their carbon emissions.

Thank you, great points! We are currently working with GSO and ISO on a sustainability orientation video that includes waste management issues/information. Good suggestion too on cutlery/straw packs, obviously funding will be an issue for such a program but we will include this in our implementation strategies. This has been discussed in Greening OHIO Initiative meetings which includes university-wide partners such as Catering and Culinary Services.
Do the costs and benefits in this category of the draft 2021 OHIO Sustainability & Climate Action Plan seem appropriate for the goals? Please note that these cost/benefit criteria will be used to decide which strategies to pursue. Response

Under goal #1 - the cost of "job loss (or new jobs)" could be switched to "potential job loss", then "potential new jobs" could be added to the benefit side

Under goal #2 - it seems as if this definitely would cause reduced resource extraction, so the question mark could be eliminated if this is the case

Thank you for these comments. We have changed the Waste section to reflect your comments.
If you have additional comments on this category, please provide below. Response

Add an arrow to the STARS Waste Comparisons bar chart indicating if higher/lower is better.


Another goal could be to improve tracking of waste, as many of the numbers had question marks.

Could there be a way to encourage the development of a waste reduction plan for different specific departments across campus? Or perhaps waste ambassadors for each department? This topic needs to be incorporated everywhere for success. It is hard to produce deliverable results without concrete instructions; the plan is very general therefore there may be a need for more focused action at a departmental level.

Thank you for your suggestions - we have added an arrow to the STARS chart, and the waste tracking goals now all have numbers for metrics. We would love to develop waste reduction plans on a departmental level, but such plans would be in our implementation guide and not in this 5-year plan itself.
I'm very excited to see the implementation within athletic events Thanks, so are we!
I think the dining hall competitions and the pilot for the composting programs are both great ideas, and I think they will be helpful. Thanks
Nicely detailed and presented poster. However, another thing to note in the strategies listed for both goals could be the promotion of student employment and volunteer opportunities through Campus Recycling (e.g., diverting waste at football games). Volunteer/student org hours could also cut back on costs. Good point, thanks, we will share with Campus Recycling & Zero Waste.
I think the strategies for goal 1 are attainable and offer guidance to facilitate education on waste reduction in many different ways. Thanks
I think Ohio University's best chance at reducing waste on campus is by educating students about the negative impacts of waste and the advantages to recycling, composting, and not purchasing food/items that they don't need. Encouraging students to participate in this education through competition is a great way to get them involved. Excellent points, thanks.

Office of Recycling and Zero WasteThe waste generated on the Athens campus is managed in multiple ways internally by the Office of Recycling and Zero Waste, the Compost Facility and Moving & Surplus, as well as externally through a contract with Athens Hocking Recycling Centers. Recycling, compost, landfilled waste and surplus items generated on campus are carefully and separately processed.

The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service Zero Waste Initiative, a part of the Sugar Bush Foundation-funded Applachian Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, collaborates with many stakeholders across campus to promote zero waste implementation and Green Events.

Office of Recycling and Zero Waste

The Office of Recycling and Zero Waste is responsible for maintaining, monitoring, troubleshooting and upgrading the recycling and waste handling at all campus buildings and grounds areas.
Please visit Recycling and Zero Waste to:

  • Order recycling, compost and landfill bins (through online work request system)
  • Inquire about annual move-in and move-out days at the residence hall
  • Participate in the annual RecycleMania national competition (OU helped start it!)
  • Request presentations to students, faculty, and staff about campus recycling services
  • Organize campus event recycling (athletics, conferences, etc.)
  • and more!

Compost Facility

Ohio University currently produces Class II Compost and Class IV Compost. The Class II compost facility is managed by Facilities Management and Safety, and is the largest known in-vessel composting system at any college or university in the nation. Food waste generated in the dining halls on campus is taken to this facility where it is processed into nutrient-rich soil amendment and then used on campus grounds and sold to the public.

Visit the Facilities Management webpage to:

Compost Facility Tours
Are you a faculty member interested in bringing your class up to the compost facility? Are you a staff member at another institution looking to develop a compost facility? Or, are you a student club interested in learning more about organics recycling? The staff in the Office of Sustainability would be happy to support your goals by offering a tour of the facility for groups of 6 or more. Schedule a tour of the facility by filling out a tour request form

Video about the OHIO Class II Compost system

Surplus Materials

All materials on campus that can be reused are transferred to the Office of Moving and Surplus. There, the items are placed into inventory and resold to the campus and community. Please contact Moving and Surplus to:

  • Schedule a pick up of reuseable materials such as furniture and electronic equipment
  • Purchase materials for reuse
  • Rent tables and chairs for events

Zero Waste Initiative

The staff members of the Zero Waste Initiative advance zero waste implementation on campus, including supporting Green Events. Please contact the Zero Waste Initiative to:

  • Register a Green Event
  • View the Green Events Guide
  • Request a Green Events consultation
  • Participate in zero waste initiatives on campus
  • Find out more about zero waste