Waste Profile, Performance, & Goals

Hundreds of universities across the country are advancing towards zero waste by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting. These practices not only conserve natural resources, but they also divert used materials from landfills, where they would otherwise pile up for hundreds of years while producing greenhouse gas emissions and contaminating water. Additionally, these practices allow universities to avoid purchasing costs, reduce landfill and hauling service fees, and engage the entire campus community in achieving tangible sustainability goals.

During calendar year 2014, UNK recycled 12% (by weight) of its solid waste. According to estimates by UNK Custodial Operations, this 12% recycling rate includes over 107 tons of paper, plastic, and cans from the single stream recycling program (also known as mixed recycling or all-in-one recycling) and over 14 tons of other materials such as metals, electronics, lamps, and batteries.

During residence hall move out in spring 2015, UNK students proudly donated nearly 1,400 pounds of reusable clothing, school supplies, nonperishable food, and other items to local charity organizations. Facilities Management and Planning and Residence Life plan to build on the success of this program during future residence hall move-outs by collecting and donating even more reusable items.

Throughout 2015 and ongoing into the 2015-2016 school year, Custodial Operations has implemented/will implement several improvements to UNK’s existing recycling efforts:

  • The Nebraskan Student Union, all residence hall rooms, academic and office buildings, and UNK’s grounds installed new receptacles for single stream recycling and landfill-bound solid waste.
  • Larger-scale outdoor events will have temporary, transparent receptacles for capturing recyclable materials.
  • Facilities Management and Planning is working with Creative Services to develop a new recycling brand, plus recycling signage, education, and other communications.
  • Facilities Management and Planning partnered with Residence Life to implement an inaugural residence hall move-in recycling program in August 2015.

Recycling recepticals

During mid-2015, Custodial Operations debuted several new types of receptacles to promote outdoor recycling and replace existing indoor receptacles that made recycling challenging. Clearly they addressed a need: 81% of Verdis Group’s UNK Sustainability Engagement Survey (March 2015) respondents agreed or strongly agreed that UNK should enhance its recycling program.

UNK now plans to increase its recycling rate, thus sending less - and eventually close to zero - solid waste to the landfill.

Recycling Rate

UNK’s recycling rate equals the total weight of recycled materials (numerator) divided by the total weight of ALL waste (denominator). Thus, to increase its recycling rate, UNK must increase recycling and/or implement strategies to decrease all other types of waste.

Waste Performance & Goals

Recycling Rate

Waste Performance and Goals