Irvine, Calif., Sept. 27, 2013 â€“ Bob Perciasepe, the Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s deputy administrator, joined the cafeteria line today at the University of California, Irvine, where he shared a zero-waste lunch with students and commended the campus on its zero-waste and food recovery achievements. UC Irvineâ€™s zero-waste program diverts from landfills 83 percent of the campusâ€™s total waste materials by recycling, reusing and composting. In addition, the university has increased its food waste diversion from 90 tons in 2010 to 500 tons in 2012, when it joined the EPAâ€™s Food Recovery Challenge.
â€śUC Irvine is doing fantastic work as a participant in the EPAâ€™s Food Recovery Challenge. It provides a great example for universities across the nation,â€ť said Perciasepe. â€śThrough its efforts to prevent food waste, UC Irvine is saving money, protecting the environment and helping to curb climate change.â€ť
The campusâ€™s Facilities Management recycle team, Waste Management of Orange County and Aramark Campus Dining Services have worked together to curb food waste since 2010, when Waste Management opened its food waste and organics recycling facility in Orange and accepted UC Irvine as a pilot-phase partner. Food waste delivered to the facility is processed and transformed into a Waste Management proprietary organic bio-slurry that has a number of sustainability applications, including the creation of green energy.
â€śThis is just one aspect of UCIâ€™s comprehensive waste management program and a great example of what can be accomplished when everyone works together,â€ť said Wendell Brase, vice chancellor for administrative & business services at UC Irvine. â€śWe are honored that Deputy Administrator Perciasepe chose to personally recognize the individuals and organizations responsible for this achievement.â€ť
Other campus waste-reduction projects are supported through UC Irvineâ€™s Green Initiative Fund. Important advances in university recycling programs include the following:
- The addition of labeledÂ lids to recycling bins on Ring Mall has expanded the commingled recyclingÂ project to all campus pedestrian pathways. Ring Mall recycling went from 0 percent to 50 percent in the first year of use.
- Commingled bins in 170Â classrooms have increased recycling from 0 percent to 75 percent in theÂ first year of use.
- Hydration stations aroundÂ campus that promote refillable water bottle use have reduced the use ofÂ disposable plastic bottles by 14 tons. More than 509,000 reusable bottles haveÂ been filled.
- Nearly 90 percent ofÂ campus events with more than 2,000 attendees are classified as zero-waste,Â thanks to the purchase of specialized bins.
â€śThrough all of these projects and more, we are reducing the amount of waste we produce on campus and are recycling or composting materials that otherwise would have ended up in a local landfill,â€ť said Anne Krieghoff, sustainability manager for UC Irvineâ€™s solid waste & recycling program. â€śThis summer, the California Resource Recovery Association honored UC Irvine with its 2013 Zero Waste Achievement Award. This recognition by the EPA is equally gratifying.â€ť
About the Food Recovery Challenge: The Food Recovery Challenge is part of the EPAâ€™s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of food and other widely used everyday items through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled and discarded. For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge, visit http://www.epa.gov/foodrecoverychallenge/.
About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nationâ€™s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, itâ€™s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. Itâ€™s Orange Countyâ€™s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.
Media access: UC Irvine maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists/experts/. Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.