UIC makes progress on ‘Zero Waste’ commitment

Recycling binsUIC has positioned itself as a leader in Chicago in recycling — with the university’s 45 percent recycling rate outpacing the City of Chicago’s 10 percent — but the campus strives to help that rate continue to climb.

By 2028, UIC aims to have 50 percent of its waste diverted from the landfill and plans for that number to reach 90 percent by 2050.

“Universities and college campuses around the country have been leaders in the sustainability agenda since the movement started,” said Joe Iosbaker, recycling coordinator for the Office of Sustainability. “At UIC, we’ve got a more woke constituency — our students and staff are organized and each generation is more attuned to recycling.”

In 2016, UIC introduced its climate commitments to be a “Carbon Neutral, Zero Waste, Net Zero Water, and Biodiverse” university. UIC earned praise from federal officials for its sustainability initiatives by earning the designation as a “2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.”

This semester, UIC has expanded its compost and food recovery efforts in partnership with UI Health and UIC Student Centers. With help from the Food Recovery Network, the Office of Sustainability is collecting food scraps from eateries in Student Center East and Student Center West, along with the hospital, which are picked up by a vendor for composting, Iosbaker said.

UIC students and employees can help the campus achieve its Zero Waste goals by:

  • disposing of recyclables in the appropriate campus recycling stations for paper, plastic, glass bottles, aluminum and other cans
  • flattening cardboard boxes and placing them behind hallway recycling stations
  • locating collection points for recycling other materials, such as batteries, writing instruments, toner cartridges and more.

“We’re making progress, but if everybody joins in, we can do it better and faster,” Iosbaker said.

To learn more about ways to recycle on campus, watch the Office of Sustainability’s video, “Recycling at UIC in Less Than 5 Minutes.”

For more information, email recycling@uic.edu

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