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University of California Irvine leading the Way to Zero Waste - Case Study


Courtesy of Harmony Enterprises, Inc.

Leading The Way To Zero Waste

The University of California, Irvine has always been synonymous with a progressive and innovative culture.  For the past several years, they have been honored by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s top “green” colleges.

Every facet of the university is committed to sustainability through conservation and recycling.  This commitment is fueled by the Office of the University President’s visionary goal of Zero Waste by 2020.  This zero waste policy refers to their goal of operating with 90% of their solid waste being diverted from the landfill.

University of California Irvine leading the Way to Zero Waste - Case Study

The UCI Office of Sustainability’s forward-thinking policy has several environmental benefits:

  • It maximizes the recycling of valued commodities
  • It maximizes the amount of materials that are composted for future use
  • It results in a lower carbon footprint and hauling expenses
  • It creates a clean and sanitary environment for future generations

To date, UC Irvine has already achieved an 81% diversion rate.  Five of their buildings are certified as zero waste facilities, achieving their 90% goal on a daily basis.

Reaching these extraordinary goals does not happen by chance.  With more than 31,000 students, 1200 faculty, and 10,000 staff members, the campus produces about 10,000 tons of solid waste annually.

How are they able to divert 81% of the solid waste they produce?

Their intensive Composting and Recycling Program consists of separating wet or soiled waste from clean or dry waste, recycling paper, aluminum, plastics, cardboard, and other valuable recyclable commodities, separating ink cartridges and batteries as special waste, and offering places to deposit composted waste in each office and classroom.

The same program also:

  • offers a variety of energy saving tips to both students and staff
  • utilizes self-hauling of commercial class vehicles, reducing carbon emissions
  • provides anaerobically digested food waste to be used as fuel at an Orange County water treatment plant
  • uses water hydration systems that keep plastic water bottle use to a minimum
University of California Irvine leading the Way to Zero Waste - Case Study

How Harmony Has Helped

This past year, UC Irvine installed two Harmony SmartPack Automatic Compactors in their Rowland Building, named for the 1995 Nobel Laureate, F. Sherwood Rowland. With the help of Harmony’s SmartPacks, UC Irvine has been able to empty solid waste and recycling just once a week from this location.  This saves them both time and money, while reducing the carbon footprint created by the overall trash hauling from this central hub on campus.

At this site, the waste and recycling are separated into one of two SmartPacks.  The black laminate SmartPack is used for solid waste that cannot be recycled.  The impressive 11:1 compaction ratio greatly increases the amount of trash in the space of one waste bag.  One compacted bag of trash from a Harmony SmartPack can hold up to as much as 25 bags from a normal 25 gallon trash bin.

University of California Irvine leading the Way to Zero Waste - Case Study

The blue colored laminate SmartPack is designated for recycling.  On the UCI campus, the blue lid bins are ones for recycling. Their motto is, “Remember, to be ‘green’, use blue.”  Easy to read  instructions are placed on the front of each machine to show patrons what type of waste or recycling should be placed in each loading door.

FM Sustainability Manager, Anne Krieghoff, states, “The goal with the SmartPacks was to provide an outlet for both waste and recycling in a public area, where people are both coming and going.  It was important to us that the two machines provide this option, as another way for us to advertise our zero waste campus.”

Harmony Enterprises is proud to support UCI’s goal of zero waste by 2020.  We are committed to providing innovative products and services that serve as solutions for the waste handling and recycling industry, while making the earth a better place for generations to come.

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