The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra is ordered in this way for good reason. Effects from reducing consumption (and therefore waste) have more positive environmental impacts than simply recycling our waste. Recycling is an energy consuming process and while it is far better than landfilling or incinerating waste, it does require some resources to process. Using less and buying less are both good for your wallet and for the environment. After you try to reduce what you consume, you can choose to reuse things you already have by bringing new life to them. Finally, when those items become worn beyond repair, you can recycle them responsibly. Even though not everything is recyclable there have been many technological advances that allow the inclusion of more goods in the recycling process.
According to the World Footprint Network, an organization dedicated to advancing the science of sustainability, globally, we are consuming the resources of 1½ planets –while only having one to live on.
The production of new goods generates waste through each step of the life cycle. From raw material extraction to manufacturing; from packaging to distributing and transporting; from use to eventual disposal: Every step of this process requires energy and natural resources.
According to the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment:
“For every ton of municipal discards wasted, about 71 tons of waste is produced during manufacturing, mining, oil and gas exploration, agriculture and coal combustion.”
Manufacturing of products, their transportation and disposal in landfills and incinerators accounts for about a third of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. We can reduce our carbon footprint by first reducing our consumption and minimizing demand for new products, reusing what we can, and then recycling whatever we can no longer use. – It’s the smart and easy way to cut waste and save our natural resources.
In 2006 Boston University performed a waste audit on the Charles River Campus to lay the groundwork for a recycling program and discovered a waste diversion rate of 3%. By 2013 BU had reduced its total waste (incinerated, recycled, composted, & donated) by 10% while the waste diversion rate had improved from 3% to 30%. These improvements in waste reduction and recycling can be attributed to several factors: trayless dining, food waste composting, and a grassroots effort by concerned faculty, staff and students across campus.
In November 2009, the University began to roll-out the recycling infrastructure needed to support a more complete program. The campus was divided into sections to best implement the system. Each week a new area was assessed by a team from Facilities Management & Planning and a representative from Save That Stuff, the University’s recycling vendor. The team walked through each floor in every building to design integrated recycling and waste stream systems that would increase the convenience of recycling, clearly communicate what can be recycled, and reduce the volume of the University’s waste.
Facilities Management & Planning began recycling more than 20 years ago, but ramped up its efforts to improve the University’s recycling program in 2006. Since then, the University’s recycling rate has improved each year. These increases can largely be attributed to two factors: Dining Services switching to trayless dining and food waste composting, and the grassroots support from the BU community for recycling bins and recycling pick-up facilitated by the University. The University’s student recycling coordinators have also played an important roll in improving recycling on campus.
sustainability@BU: It’s what you do, it’s what we all do together. Waste reduction and recycling at Boston University relies on the efforts of all of us. BU works with Save that Stuff to recycle cardboard & paper and cans & bottles on both campuses. Small electronics, ink cartridges, fluorescent light bulbs, water filters, and batteries can all be recycled through ResLife Offices and through the Area Managers. If you cannot find your area manager, with the exception of light bulbs, all of these electronic items can also be sent to 120 Ashford Street, Room 218.
BigBelly solar trash compactors on campus are emptied as needed through the use of sensor and wireless technology. Many of the BigBelly compactors are paired-up with recycling receptacles for paper, and cans & bottles.
Cans & Bottles
Paper & Cardboard