Reducing, Recycling, Reusing and Composting Waste
There is a growing concern in Illinois about the underlying link between waste and climate change. As the population grows and generates more solid waste — garbage, landscape waste and construction/demolition debris — our landfill capacity is rapidly decreasing. Reducing, recycling and composting waste is critical to help avoid the development of more landfills and solid waste facilities. Taking the right steps now will help increase economic development and provide a healthier and safer environment.
In Illinois, this effort is supported by three primary laws: the Solid Waste Management Act (SWMA), the Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act (SWPRA), and the Illinois Environmental Protection Act (Epact). These regulations help to guide decisions on waste management and implement proper waste management plans.
What Illinois Community Colleges Are Doing:
The IGEN network of colleges is part of the sustainable resource management movement toward zero waste. We are working to change attitudes as well as practices on our campuses and in our communities. Towards those goals, we are:
- Incorporating waste reduction strategies into procurement guides to require recycled content, product life cycle analysis, sustainably-made goods and local sources.
- Completing waste audits to establish baseline metrics to increase waste diversion rates and create directed institutional policies.
- Keeping organic waste out of landfills by composting landscape waste and pre-consumer food scraps.
- Installing water bottle filling stations at drinking fountains to encourage reusable water bottles and to keep plastic bottles out of landfills.
- Using concentrated chemicals when possible and setting all copiers to default to double-sided copying.
- Institutionalizing recycling programs that go beyond paper/ glass and plastic such as printer and toner cartridges, batteries, automotive programs waste, and fluorescent and HID light bulbs.
- Holding community collection events for household hazardous waste and E-waste.
- Auctioning off or donating used office and classroom furniture.
Reuse and recycling industries are growing as well as zero-waste and sustainable resource management services. Careers are developing in green chemistry, redesigning products for reuse rather than disposal and other areas of materials diversion.