Waste and recycling is a topic that concerns many people on the Skidmore College campus. Thanks to a partnership between Facilities Services, the Sustainable Skidmore Office, and Skidmore’s waste hauler Casella Waste Systems, Skidmore transitioned to zero-sort recycling earlier this fall. Zero-Sort recycling is Skidmore’s most recent waste reduction effort and allows users to place all recyclable material (paper, cardboard, metals, glass, and plastics) in one bin.
The goal of the new program is to increase the College’s recycling rate and divert recyclable materials from the landfill. Skidmore met with Casella for several months to design and implement a program that would be straightforward and encourage broad participation from the Skidmore community. The more streamlined Zero-Sort program makes recycling easier for individuals, leading to increased participation and higher recycling rates. Members of Facilities Services and Sustainable Skidmore also visited one of Casella’s recycling facilities to see first-hand how materials are sorted and met with Casella’s marketing team to design clear, comprehensive signage for the program.
In order to track progress, Skidmore and Casella conducted a waste audit to analyze current campus recycling rates. Skidmore’s recycling rate was 16% before the new Zero-Sort program launched; yet more than 60% of the total waste stream consisted of recyclable content. Skidmore hopes to reach a recycling rate of 40% by the end of next year. Within 2 months of the program’s launch the College has already reached a 22% recycling rate, a six percent increase.
The transition to Zero-Sort recycling is only one of several waste reduction campaigns. Since 2010, the composting program in the Northwoods Village has diverted over 14,000 pounds of food scraps from going to the landfill. The program is expanding its scope this year and is working with Dining Hall staff to develop seminars on food storage, food preparation, and cooking techniques to help educate students and minimize food waste within campus apartments. Other initiatives that continue to make a positive impact on campus are the Give+Go and furniture donation programs. Last year, the Give+Go captured several large truckloads of reusable items to donate to local and regional organizations. Skidmore also donated over 2,500 pieces of furniture to national and international relief programs. The new Zero-Sort programs, along with these other ongoing waste reduction initiatives demonstrate Skidmore’s commitment to reducing its impact on our regional and global communities.