The university has a goal to demonstrate leadership in both the reduction and diversion of waste with anticipated outcomes including achieving Zero Waste and reducing per capita waste generation.
Zero Waste Strategies
Right-size solid waste and recycling infrastructure
Develop reuse/recycle programs for special and/or not readily recyclable materials
Develop programs to encourage highest and best use of materials
Convert major campus events to zero waste
Expand food waste avoidance, donation programs and organics diversion campus-wide
Promote UT Austin as a national model for waste diversion for a research university
Reduce hazardous waste generation
Current and Past Initiatives
Resource Recovery partners with University Housing and Dining, Office of Sustainability, and University Unions to design updated waste bin signage. Standardized recycling and landfill trash signage posted across 127 E&G buildings on Main Campus and the JJ Pickle Research Campus.
Zero Waste Events team launches the ZWEco Supply Store, where staff and faculty event planners can purchase BPI-certified compostable serviceware, reserve compost bins, and request zero waste staffing for their event.
Landscape Services has composted leaves for at least 20 years and invests in enhanced compost quality with new leaf vacuum/mulching and screening machines. The compost product is used in shrub and annual flower beds and greenhouse potting media.
Student Government creates Sustainability Policy Director positions.
Over 50 different student organizations volunteer during home football game sorts and football reaches a 75% game diversion rate.
University Housing and Dining adds battery recycling containers to the residence halls.
Resource Recovery student interns test and organize outdated university computer peripherals and lab equipment at Surplus Property to assess reuse opportunities.
In stewardship of the SITES certified Dell Medical District, Landscape Services collects used coffee grounds from campus vendors to incorporate into the production of compost tea to feed campus plants and trees.
First-ever UT Austin Sustainability Master Plan signed under President Gregory Fenves.
Outdoor recycling and landfill trash bin infrastructure relocated, paired, and labeled enhancing recycling collection capacity.
SG AR 18 - In Support of Improved Composting on Campus.
Landscape Services initiates milling of campus lumber for special projects such as frames and building furniture found at SSB, EER, NUR, and DMS.
Landscape Services begins processing 20-50 yards per year of tree debris into single-grind mulch to apply to bed and tree rings across campus.
Green Labs program begins.
Becoming a reality after year of capacity-building by students, Green Fund begins supporting sustainability initiatives and research projects on campus, including many zero waste and recycling projects.
Eco2Go reusable to-go containers initiated by University Housing and Dining, saving 3.15 tons of disposables from the landfill in the first year.
Office of Sustainability created.
Longhorn Recycling Roundup launches with a student volunteer Tailgate Recycling Crew, handing out plastic bags to sort recyclables and non-recyclables to tailgaters at football home games, and collecting recyclables at the stadium gates. Additionally, a compost station was set up in the North End Zone food court.
Sustainability Steering Committee develops the first UT Austin Campus Sustainability Policy, which was then adopted by President Powers.
First University Housing and Dining plate waste study is conducted to study the effect of eliminating trays and reveals that that one change resulted in food waste being cut in half.
University Housing and Dining begins composting food waste.
President William Powers appoints the first UT Austin Sustainability Steering Committee comprised of faculty, administrators, staff, and student representatives as a forum for an ongoing discussion about sustainability.
The Campus Environmental Center hires their first part-time student coordinator to oversee recycling efforts on campus.
The Campus Environmental Center's Recycling Task Force partners with UT's Facilities Services to expand its efforts to increase material types collected, recycling awareness, and the number of volunteer staff.
The Campus Environmental Center runs an ink cartridge recycling program, which is later run by Document Solutions.
Recycling Task Force members conduct a waste audit of 1,300 pounds of campus waste to determine the portion of recyclable content.
CAN'EM, a project run by UT Police Department and partners, collects aluminum cans from home game tailgating.
Student-run Recycling Task Force effort places and services 12 recycling bins around campus to recycle aluminum, glass, and plastic to expand upon the university's paper recycling.
An effort to improve UT's collection of recyclables leads to the creation of a Recycling Task Force, an off-shoot of student government and a coalition of campus environmentally-minded organizations and students that would later become the Campus Environmental Center and lead to the eventual institutionalization of recycling by Facilities Services.
UT Recycling Program receives Best Comprehensive Program Award by the Austin Corporate Recycling Council, 1999 Environmental Vision Award, and Recycler of the Year from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation (year unknown).
The UT program recycles all types of paper as well as industrial products like antifreeze, oil, freon, batteries, and scrap metal.
Largely through student effort, the Division of Housing and Food Service (now University Housing and Dining) puts a recycling bin in every dorm room.
Longhorns Recycling Roundup begins challenging Texas fans to recycle cups at Texas Athletics facilities.
UT Recycling Advisory Committee announces the creation of a recycling coordinator position.
60% of UT's total waste in 1995 is paper.
UT begins considering increased loading dock space to ensure the future design of UT buildings will be receptive to recycling.
Recycling Advisory Committee is formed by UT President Robert Berdahl to advise him on recycling issues and "assist in making the university a model of environmental awareness and action."
UT alumnus Kevin Tuerff (B.S. '88) co-creates Texas Recycles Day, which later becomes the nationally recognized America Recycles Day.
UT has been recycling other products such as batteries and tires "for some time."
UT Physical Plant begins a paper recycling program.
Campus Environmental Committee recommends to President William Cunningham funding and approval to 1) start recycling cardboard and paper with a plan to phase in more materials later and 2) to reduce the overall amount of paper used.
In response to S.B. 1340 and petitions signed by 1,000 students, faculty and staff requesting a campus-wide recycling policy, the university forms an ad hoc Campus Environmental Committee to study 1) campus recycling and source reduction and 2) campus beautification.
Student-led efforts initiate and manage recycling at UT with limited collection containers.