May 13, 2016
Students, staff, and faculty at Humboldt State University are stingy with their trash.
According to a recent report from HSU’s Division of Administrative Affairs, the campus community produced only 1.06 pounds of trash per employee per day and .27 pounds per student per day in 2015. That comes in well under the goals of 10.7 pounds per employee and 1.9 pounds per student set by the state and reported to the California State Agency Reporting Center (SARC).
The SARC tracks waste management information provided by state agencies and large state facilities. The SARC began tracking waste reports in 2000 after the passage of AB 75 in 1999. The act mandated that state agencies develop waste management plans and waste diversion goals. Those goals are set by each state agency in accordance with its own policies. In 2014, The California State University, the 23-campus system that includes Humboldt State, set waste-reduction goals in its revised Sustainability Policy. They are:
● Reduce solid waste disposal by 50 percent by 2016
● Reduce solid waste disposal by 80 percent by 2020
● Move to zero waste after 2020
The CSU will evaluate the policy at the end of 2016-2017.
In 2014, the most recent year data is available from the SARC, HSU produced 626 tons of waste from its 2,187 employees and 8,854 students. The tonnage is measured by HSU’s campus waste haulers and contractors. Food waste, compostable and bio-plastic containers, paper towels, packaging, and construction and demolition-related materials comprise the bulk of HSU’s waste stream.
The 2014 reduction works out to employees besting their target rate by 85 percent while students beat their target by 79 percent.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 4.5 pounds of trash every day.
HSU has focused on waste diversion goals for some time. The California Integrated Waste Management Board reports that 77.8 percent of waste was diverted at HSU in 2006. In 2008, HSU produced only 4.4 pounds per employee and .68 pounds per student. Campus efforts to reduce waste and promote composting have gone a long way to bring those amounts down. HSU’s Office of Sustainability works closely with Dining and Facilities Management staff on waste reduction and recycling responsibilities.
Student groups are also highly active, partnering with the Office of Sustainability to host a series of zero-waste events throughout the academic year. Tips and guidelines for recycling and composting on campus are available online.