The President and Provost's Council on Sustainability has approved a goal to divert 90% of the university's materials from the landfill by 2030. This goal is part of Ohio State's commitment to sustainability that was made when President Gee signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2008. By signing, Ohio State committed to reducing the environmental impact of materials used on campus. Energy Services and Sustainability is committed to working with the university community to ensure the diversion goal is met. This ambitious goal will require forward thinking, innovation, and individual commitments across campus. All faculty, staff, and students will contribute to the successful implementation of this strategy.
Sustainable materials management at Ohio State is a complex and multifaceted issue. “Sustainable Materials Management is an approach to promote sustainable materials use, integrating actions targeted at reducing negative environmental impacts and preserving natural capital throughout the life-cycle of materials, taking into account economic efficiency and social equity” (OECD).
At the conclusion of fiscal year 2013, Ohio State’s Columbus campus generated 11,952 tons of trash and 5,484 tons of recyclable materials (including nearly 1,938 tons of organics). Despite growth in campus users since 2007, the University has increased its trash by only 1.7% and increased recycling by 86.5%. Recycling at Ohio State includes comingled materials (paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass), carpeting, books, light tubes, ballasts, batteries, cell phones, computers, landscaping debris, and food materials. These materials come from many aspects of campus such as residence halls, academic spaces, laboratories, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, dining areas, Ohio Stadium, UNIPrint, Ohio Union, Environmental Health and Safety, and many more.
Recycling is one way that we can achieve our materials management goals. Materials management requires stewardship throughout the entire life cycle of materials from purchase to disposal. There are many important reasons to minimize, reduce, and recycle trash at Ohio State.
Recycling at Ohio State is single stream (also referred to as comingled), meaning all recyclables are placed in the same bin instead of being separated. However, trash still needs to be placed in a different container. Many side-by-side trash and recycling containers have been placed around campus in common areas and classrooms. The lid on the recycling side is differentiated to reflect the shape of common recyclables such as paper and plastic bottles, making it easier for you to recycle in the correct bin. In some areas, older containers are still used. Regardless of the signage, these recycling bins should also be used for comingled recycling. Faculty and staff and students are encouraged to learn more about recycling on campus.
Ohio State increased its waste diversion rate from 15% to 31.3% from 2004-2013.