ASU receives grant to help achieve goal of zero waste

The University received a $4,000 grant from Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful.

ASU is two years out from its goal of producing no solid waste, and the University just received a $4,000 grant to help with that goal.

The grant, offered by Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental thinking, will help ASU grow its composting program.

The University already composts most of its landscaping waste and uses it as compost, and ASU currently has composting bins in the Barrett, the Honors College and the Hassayampa dining halls on the Tempe campus. The grant will be used to expand the program to other campus locations.

Students in the Global Institute of Sustainability will develop the plan by working with the ASU Facilities Management Recycling program. This will provide a great opportunity for the students to apply their academic studies to a real-world situation, ASU Recycling Program Manager Alana Levine said in a statement.

"Students will actually see their ideas realized at ASU and establish a collection model for other communities to use," she said.

The University plans to eliminate 90 percent of its food waste within the next few years by expanding its Green Bins organic composting program. In 2012, the University sent approximately 1,695 tons of food waste — 25 percent of its total 6,778 tons of waste – to the landfill, according to the Global Institute of Sustainability's website.

Waste Management representatives searched for schools, nonprofit organizations and cities that had plans that could fit the organization's goals for recycling, community clean-ups, beautification, community greening projects or educational programs, said Janette Coates, senior communications specialist for Waste Management's Four Corners Market area.

"Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful officials analyzed the various projects on why they were important to fund, how Waste Management would be involved in the project and how the project would be measured," she said.

A Waste Management representative in the area nominated ASU because of its Green Bins program.

"ASU received the grant because of (its) commitment to sustainability and diversion across (its) campuses to eventually achieve zero solid waste," she said. "The funds for the project will help the newly created organics program grow."

The University was one of 50 winners of a $4,000 Think Green grant. Applications for other grants are ongoing through June 12.

ASU has been working on its zero waste program with Waste Management since January 2012. Along with composting, the program calls for ASU to expand its recycling program and repurpose and reuse waste materials.

It's part of a larger plan that also calls for ASU to reduce waste water discharge and the amount of water used for landscape and buildings by 2020.

Waste Management supports ASU in its sustainability goals, said Scott Bradley, area vice president for the organization's Four Corners Market area.

"Helping to make our communities safer and cleaner is part of our company's mission to be a good community partner," he said.

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