Primary Strategies

Seek opportunities to be more paperless

Continue to implement new paperless practices. For example, switch to entirely electronic admissions applications, transcripts, and W-2 tax forms. Some offices may have employees that prefer printed W-2 tax forms; in these offices, leadership should encourage paperless behavior to the extent reasonable, promote recycling, and educate employees about the sustainability impacts of paper consumption.

Pilot a residence hall recycling competition and/or recognition program

Test a program that motivates residence hall students to recycle more, incentivizes their participation, and rewards their achievements. Alternatively, UNK could participate in Recyclemania and compete against other colleges and universities. In 2011, participating Recyclemania universities’ recycling rate increased from 24% during the first half of competition to nearly 28% during the second half. UNK could compete in Recyclemania’s Competition Division (which requires weight data from the entire campus) or Benchmark Division (which only requires weight data from a subset of campus).

Evaluate the residence hall move-in and move-out recycling programs

Even though successful, evaluate the move-in and move-out recycling programs. Opportunities may exist to (1) capture more cardboard and plastic during move-in, (2) improve logistics, (3) increase participation, and (4) measure success.

Conduct an audit of cafeteria waste

For most of the year, and especially since composting is not currently available at UNK, students generate a high quantity of waste while dining in the cafeteria. In order to develop the most appropriate strategies for reducing cafeteria waste, UNK needs to know the cafeteria waste profile: What percentage is recyclable? What percentage is theoretically compostable? What percentage of the food waste is entrees, sides, or specific foods, etc.? Piloting this sort of audit could be a great compliment to the existing Project Clean Plate.

Solicit and deploy student recycling volunteers

One of the easiest ways to increase recycling is to have student volunteers stand near waste disposal receptacles during events. The volunteers encourage event-goers to recycle their waste items and answer questions about whether specific items should be disposed into the recycling or landfill streams. These volunteers could come from Enactus, Residence Hall Association, Student Government, or elsewhere.

Develop creative recycling communications for athletic events

For example, enlist students to help develop a short, humorous recycling video to show during time outs or between periods at football and basketball games.

Continue to install water bottle refill stations

UNK students and employees recognize the water bottle refill stations as one of the university’s most visible sustainability successes, diverting thousands of plastic bottles from the landfill. Over 90% of UNK survey respondents (Verdis Group’s UNK Sustainability Engagement Survey, March 2015) indicated they are aware of the stations, by far the most widely recognized sustainability effort on campus. Thus, Facilities Management and Planning should continue to install new stations and encourage departments/buildings to set aside relevant funding.

Pilot centralized collection of landfill-bound waste in an office setting

Identify one office that is willing to test centralized collection of landfill bound waste paired with deskside recycling. In other words, the office’s employees would recycle at their desks, but would take their landfill-bound items to a receptacle that is centrally located within the office. This contrasts the typical setup in which both landfill-bound materials and recyclables are disposed at the deskside. By making landfilling more “difficult,” this strategy could likely increase recycling. This strategy could also help eliminate odors and insect pests, make custodians’ responsibilities simpler, and encourage employees to be more active throughout their day.