Greening academia: Developing sustainable waste management at Higher Education Institutions

School of Civil Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, University Rd., Highfield, Southampton, Hampshire SO17 1BJ, UK.
Waste Management (Impact Factor: 3.22). 03/2011; 31(7):1606-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.wasman.2011.03.006
Source: PubMed


Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are often the size of small municipalities. Worldwide, the higher education (HE) sector has expanded phenomenally; for example, since the 1960s, the United Kingdom (UK) HE system has expanded sixfold to >2.4 million students. As a consequence, the overall production of waste at HEIs throughout the world is very large and presents significant challenges as the associated legislative, economic and environmental pressures can be difficult to control and manage. This paper critically reviews why sustainable waste management has become a key issue for the worldwide HE sector to address and describes some of the benefits, barriers, practical and logistical problems. As a practical illustration of some of the issues and problems, the four-phase waste management strategy developed over 15 years by one of the largest universities in Southern England--the University of Southampton (UoS)--is outlined as a case study. The UoS is committed to protecting the environment by developing practices that are safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly and has developed a practical, staged approach to manage waste in an increasingly sustainable fashion. At each stage, the approach taken to the development of infrastructure (I), service provision (S) and behavior change (B) is explained, taking into account the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental (PESTLE) factors. Signposts to lessons learned, good practice and useful resources that other institutions--both nationally and internationally--can access are provided. As a result of the strategy developed at the UoS, from 2004 to 2008 waste costs fell by around £125k and a recycling rate of 72% was achieved. The holistic approach taken--recognizing the PESTLE factors and the importance of a concerted ISB approach--provides a realistic, successful and practical example for other institutions wishing to effectively and sustainably manage their waste.

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    • "This is even more important because universities play a multifaceted role in the creation and transfer of knowledge and so are well positioned to catalyse proenvironmental behaviour amongst their staff, students, and the wider community [4]. Many HEIs use waste management activities as a starting point for their sustainability initiatives [1]. However, the generation and management of solid waste present significant challenges as the associated legislative, economic, social and environmental pressures can be difficult to govern [3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Higher education institutions (HEIs) are often regarded as small municipalities due to their size and various complex activities that take place on campus. Operations within HEIs, in terms of energy use and waste management have major impacts upon the environment. Current trends in waste management indicate a shift from landfill-based to a resource-based management model. Implementation of this model requires accurate data on waste characteristics and composition. This study conducted over an eight week period across three sampling zones examined 500 waste samples in 2013. Findings indicate that 73%, 25% and 2% of waste materials could be recycled, composted or sent for anaerobic digestion and incinerated or sent to landfill respectively. Results from food waste composition analysis indicate a moisture content of 48.8% and a C/N ratio of 55:1. Overall, this study provides some examples of tools that can be used to assess waste management in large Institutions such as universities.
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    • "The social components of waste management are complex, including factors like convenience, perceived efficacy, consumer awareness, outreach , and participation; ultimately resulting in patterns of consumer behavior. Behavior change is a central factor, necessary for shifting to more sustainable waste management but there is a lack of research with regards to behavior change interventions (Zhang et al., 2011). Sussman and Gifford (2013) and Sussman et al. (2013) found that prompts, such as signage, and people modeling how to sort compost in public settings have a significant influence on the behavior of the people around them. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study evaluated seven different waste management strategies for venue-based events and characterized the impacts of event waste management via waste audits and the Waste Reduction Model (WARM). The seven waste management scenarios included traditional waste handling methods (e.g. recycle and landfill) and management of the waste stream via composting, including purchasing where only compostable food service items were used during the events. Waste audits were conducted at four Arizona State University (ASU) baseball games, including a three game series. The findings demonstrate a tradeoff among CO2 equivalent emissions, energy use, and landfill diversion rates. Of the seven waste management scenarios assessed, the recycling scenarios provide the greatest reductions in CO2 eq. emissions and energy use because of the retention of high value materials but are compounded by the difficulty in managing a two or three bin collection system. The compost only scenario achieves complete landfill diversion but does not perform as well with respect to CO2 eq. emissions or energy. The three game series was used to test the impact of staffed bins on contamination rates; the first game served as a baseline, the second game employed staffed bins, and the third game had non staffed bins to determine the effect of staffing on contamination rates. Contamination rates in both the recycling and compost bins were tracked throughout the series. Contamination rates were reduced from 34% in the first game to 11% on the second night (with the staffed bins) and 23% contamination rates at the third game.
    Waste Management 02/2015; 38(1). DOI:10.1016/j.wasman.2015.01.019 · 3.22 Impact Factor
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    • "The fact that a HEI can be considered a " mini city " or " a small municipality " (Zhang et al., 2011) due to its size, population, complexity of activities executed, pollution and direct and indirect degradation of the environment (Alshuwaikhat and Abubakar, 2008), and considering the growth of the civil construction sector, HEIs are seen to represent an ideal scenario for the development of " green constructions " , which represent a type of building that seeks to reconcile method, technologies and concepts of construction aligned with the concept of sustainability. The adoption of green buildings by universities, while having a positive impact on the image of the HEI, will also serve as a focus for latter studies, thus contributing to research projects, generating knowledge and also representing another step toward the university's sustainable development . "
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this short communication is to identify and analyze the main barriers to the adoption of green buildings at two traditional Schools/Colleges of Engineering in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. The methodological process employed is the multiple case studies used to diagnose the main barriers to installing green buildings in these two cases. The intention, by the institutions, to adopt greener buildings has been observed, considering the commitment of top management and that the institutions have put forth to accelerate this greening process. However, the barriers to adoption are evident, especially those of a technical and cultural origin. Based on these results, the study proposes possible solutions and guidelines to overcome such barriers, aimed at facilitating the adoption of green technologies in the buildings at Schools/Colleges of Engineering.
    05/2014; 3(1). DOI:10.1016/j.ijsbe.2014.05.004
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