In 2016, the University of Arkansas developed and began implementing zero waste strategies to advance campus programs in order to achieve 90% diversion by 2021. The strategies not only considered different collection and disposal options to increase diversion of waste from landfills, but primarily focused on how changes in the procurement of items for our campus could reduce our overall waste. Purchasing only items of recyclable and compostable materials for on-campus sale and use, as opposed to disposable materials such as polystyrene, could increase the rate of diversion of waste from landfills. Highlights in 2016 include recycling efforts among our Greek Life, the Athletic Program’s continued dedication to the Game Day Challenge competition, and the amazing food repurposing efforts of Razorback Food Recovery.
The Zero Waste Events program registered 21 events in 2016. The OFS provided all of the necessary equipment, including up to 20 ClearStream recycling receptacles, signage, and a variety of weighing and measuring equipment. These tools are provided to U of A sponsored events free of charge. Zero Waste Events can be scheduled via a simple online form at sustainability.uark.edu/get-involved/your-event/.
RAZORBACK FOOD RECOVERY
Razorback Food Recovery (RFR) began in February 2014, and in 2016 has continued to be one of the University of Arkansas’ major methods of combating both food waste and food insecurity. RFR Volunteers work with Chartwells, the U of A’s food provider, to recover food both in the restaurants and cafeterias on campus. This food is then separated into individual, freezable meals that are then given to our community partner agencies who distribute it to the food insecure of our city. So far, RFR has recovered and distributed over 83,500 lbs of food. Not only has this food been prevented from going to waste, but it has been distributed - free of charge - to those in need. To get involved, go to service.uark.edu.
CHARTWELLS COMPOSTING PILOT
In the Spring of 2016, Chartwells participated in a composting pilot facilitated by the City of Fayetteville. The City owns and operates a composting facility, but prior to the Pilot it was used only to compost yard waste. During the Pilot, food waste from Fulbright, Pomfret, Union, and Brough cafeterias that would usually have been tossed in the landfill was instead collected and composted into a valuable soil amendment. Over the 21 week period, a total of 69.3 tons of food waste was collected from the University and other participants in Fayetteville. The Pilot not only reduced the amount of food going to the landfill, but increased awareness of food waste by students and members of the Fayetteville community. The City is considering using the Pilot as a blueprint for an ongoing program to be rolled out in 2017.