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Progress and Data

Strategic Plan

The Recycling and Waste Reduction Committee (RWRC) has created a 5-year strategic plan to steer the UI forward in its pursuit of 60% waste diversion by 2020.  The RWRC is comprised of operational managers from across campus and students from UISG, GPSG, and Delta Tau Delta.

  • Strategic Plan - a visionary plan identifying current progress and 9 goals needed to achieve 60% waste diversion by 2020.
  • Infrastructure and Services Task group - a specialized group focused on recycling, compost, and landfill container deployment across campus (what they look like, where they go, who handles materials).
  • Event Waste Reduction Group - a specialized group focused on creating the expectation and capacity for event coordinators on campus to reduce waste.
  • In development - The two task groups above have identified the need for a lab-focused group and a purchasing-focused group.  These committees are currently in development.

Fiscal Year 2015

The University of Iowa has several organizational units that create many different types of waste on campus.  These organizational units include Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), General Education Fund (GEF, i.e. academic and administrative buildings), Housing and Dining (UH&D), Iowa Memorial Union (IMU), and Athletics.

Total Campus Diversion

Campus Diversion RateTotal weight (lbs)Total landfilledTotal diverted

Note: these figures are not complete due to some missing data, but should closely reflect the diversion rate. 

Some of these types of waste are easy to relate to and are impacted by everyday students, staff, and faculty—things like single-stream recycling, trash, organics, and landfilled trash.  These materials are handled and measured at the organizational level.  



Waste audits                          

waste audit compilation

A waste audit is an event where the contents of a building's trash is examined in order to understand what's being thrown in the trash and what the potential is for diversion.  Audits provide great engagement opportunities with building occupants, both during the audit and afterward with detailed results. 

Audits conducted over the past 3 years give a good look at what the UI is throwing into the trash.

The piechart shows a nearly 1/3 split between single-stream recycling, organics, and trash. A small portion of items, "other recycling," are plastic bags and glass, items which are not acceptable in single-stream. All in all, this means roughly 75% of what’s in our trash doesn’t need to be there.

Recycling's impact                           

Waste diversion is part of our social fabric at the UI--what it means to be a Hawkeye. We value keeping resources out of the landfill through reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting.

You: You can take action and be an agent of change. Whether it’s learning the basics of recycling, competing in RecycleMania with your friends, or encouraging your department to move further, you are part of the UI’s 2020 Vision for Sustainability and can make an impact. For many students, recycling is the gateway into sustainability, leadership, and service at the UI.

The University: The University values waste diversion as part of a greater pursuit of sustainability. Committed to global citizenship, stewardship of resources, and preparing leaders for tomorrow, recycling and reducing waste are aligned with these priorities.

City of Iowa City: The City of Iowa City is committed to recycling and waste reduction and is an important partner to the University of Iowa. In 2011, a study of the landfill was conducted to understand what materials are landfilled each year. The results were illuminating. Over $1.5 million worth of resources (could be recycled) are trashed each year.

State of Iowa: Recycling is good for the economy. In 2011, the recycling industry supported 11,400 jobs in Iowa.

Jobs supported:  Compared to landfilling resources, recycling and reusing create far more jobs. 

  • 10,000 ton of paper recycled = 18 jobs
  • 10,000 tons of plastic recycled = 93 jobs
  • 10,000 tons of clothes reused = 85 jobs
  • 10,000 tons of landfilled materials = 1 job

Energy, water, and climate change:  A product created out of recycled material uses less energy than one made out of raw materials. When energy’s conserved, water is conserved, and climate change is mitigated.

Energy saved when manufacturing using recycled material versus virgin:

  • Aluminum - 95%
  • Cardboard - 24%
  • Paper - 40%
  • Plastics - 70%
  • Steel - 60%

News & Events Climate Narrative Blog

Sustainability at Iowa

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200 South Clinton St.
Iowa City, IA 52242
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