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Morris’s Recycling Efforts Divert Waste From Landfill

Several pairs of hands holding compost
Author: 
Sarah Freske ’18
Publication date: 
July 27, 2017

To reduce waste and cut costs, Facilities Management at the University of Minnesota, Morris is boosting sustainability efforts on campus and in the community. By organizing a composting partnership with Morris Area Elementary School, recycling furniture at move-out time, and turning plastic bags into benches, Facilities Management has brought Morris that much closer to achieving its goal of going zero-waste.

Troy Ostby, coordinator of recycling and composting for Facilities Management, and others worked with the elementary school last year to collect and add food scraps to campus's windrow composting system. Ostby and other staff add these to the food and paper towel waste on campus to create nutrient rich soil for landscaping and gardening purposes.

The team has collected compost from the elementary school for two months, diverting nearly four tons of waste from the landfill. This adds to the more than 125 tons of organic waste diverted from landfills since composting began on campus in 2013.

"Finding places to put our waste is becoming more difficult and expensive," says Lisa Harris, facilities director. "The campus, city, and county are working together to reduce waste that goes into landfills."

Facilities Management and Residential Life have also reduced the number of items disposed of during move-out. This year a trailer was available for students to donate their unwanted furniture, appliances, bedding, clothes, and other items.

"People put significantly less furniture in the dumpsters," Ostby says. "Having the trailer available made a big difference."

Recycling efforts have not just diverted waste, but also produced something useful in return. Facilities Management has gotten two benches for the campus community, in exchange for sending 1,000 pounds of plastic bags to a recycling facility this past year.

Facilities Management plans to expand its composting operation in the coming year by extending the partnership to Morris Area High School. Next spring Ostby hopes to have more furniture recycling trailers so students will have more convenient access no matter where they live on campus. To learn more about sustainability initiatives on campus, visit morris.umn.edu/sustainability.