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University redoubles efforts to divert waste from landfills

By Fabian Mayer, July 23 2015 —

The University of Calgary aims to divert 80 per cent of its waste from landfills by the year 2020 as part of their sustainability goals.

Recently hired recycling and solid waste coordinator Teresa Holmes heads the zero-waste working group. The U of C currently diverts 40–60 per cent of its waste from landfills, but Holmes believes there are still areas where the university can improve.

“Paper towels from bathrooms is a big one,” Holmes said. “Right now that’s going to waste in a lot of areas, so looking at ways that it could potentially be diverted in the future.”

Holmes said waste diversion is a priority among the U of C’s sustainability efforts.

“It decreases the amount of waste that we are contributing to the landfills in Calgary, which is a good thing. [It] also aligns with the city of Calgary’s goal to have 80 per cent diversion city-wide by 2020,” Holmes said.

While the working group has been around for years, it is becoming more active.

“There’s going to be a renewed focus on increasing what we’re doing,” Holmes said.

Students’ Union vice-president operations and finance Sarah Pousette said the SU will be represented on the zero-waste working group. 

“We are just as committed to having that diversion as well,” Pousette said. “That’s why we have the compost program, that’s why we do bottle and can recycling, light bulb recycling and electronic waste recycling.”

Pousette also hopes students will get more involved with SU sustainability initiatives in the coming year.

“We have a sustainability fund and that’s our way of allowing students to engage in sustainability,” Pousette said. “This year we’re really trying to promote that and make sure we get lots of applications.”

Pousette said the SU is considered a leader on campus when it comes to sustainability. 

“We definitely are very committed to sustainability. It’s one of our values here at the SU.”

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