Plastic-Free & Zero-Waste Campuses
This project defines zero waste as a 90% diversion rate of landfill-bound material through techniques such as source reduction, reuse, segregation, recycling, and composting. The system prevents pollution and avoids costs associated with landfill disposal. It also reduces carbon emissions by diverting discarded materials from methane-generating landfills and avoiding carbon emissions associated with extracting, processing, and transporting raw materials and waste in a larger scope at the university campuses.
Actions and Methods (Implementation):
A. Short-term Strategies
1. Waste & Brand audits and clean-up exercises involve recording data on plastic waste to help identify the companies responsible for plastic pollution and hold them accountable. This seeks to advance the scope from just clean-ups and anti-plastic use campaigns to involving source contributors in waste management. Conventionally, campaigns on waste and plastics specifically, have focused on the consumers’ “dos” and “don’ts”. This will contribute to the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). Reducing single-use plastics through this approach can work to reduce these plastics on campus by providing reusable water bottles and coffee cups, switching to paper straws, and offering bulk options for food and other products while engaging the university management in these processes.
2. Education and awareness of waste management on campus radio stations and social media platforms encourages students, faculties, and staff to reuse items such as bags, containers and utensils to reduce waste. We believe that continuously creating awareness for attitudinal change and empowering the youth to lead will be key to effectively managing solid waste on campuses. The basic and senior high school students will be engaged as well. These individuals need to be involved at their younger with the approach of “catch the young”.
B. Long-term strategies
1. Establish a buyback centre at the various tertiary institutions to encourage efficient plastic waste recovery and composting sites to manage organic waste and enhance food security using the approach of circular economy to promote healthy and clean campuses. Implementing a recycling program can set up recycling bins throughout campus and educate students, faculty, and staff on proper recycling practices. This could include separating paper, plastic, glass, and other materials for proper disposal. This will be done alongside composting food waste (organics) within a composting program to divert food waste from landfills. On-campus composting facilities or by partnering with a local composting company to get this done. This approach adds value to waste (raw materials).
2. Petition the university board, government, policymakers and regulators to advance efforts towards the ban on the production and use of single-use plastics
Overall, this makes universities to be proactive in managing waste and reducing their environmental impact. Implementing zero-waste practices can help to reduce the amount of waste produced on campus and contribute to a more sustainable future.