About the No Waste Goal at Indiana University
Indiana University – Bloomington is home to approximately 45,000 students, faculty and staff. Every year IU sends almost 5,000 tons of waste to the landfill. This is equivalent to 218 semi truck trailers full of trash. Every year IU also recycles approximately 1,800 tons of the waste stream, equivalent to 36 semi truck trailers. Currently, IU diverts 20% of its waste from the landfill through recycling efforts.
No Waste is Indiana University Bloomington’s waste reduction website. The central goal of this site is to inform students, faculty and staff on the ways in which we can reduce waste generated on campus. IU’s waste reduction strategy will begin with reducing and reusing but will also include a strong recycling effort.
Most do not realize the consequences of resource use and disposal. The production and disposal of any item produce considerable effects on the environment, and it is important to be conscious of these effects. Upstream effects are those required to produce the item and downstream effects are those that come from the disposal of the item.
Producing anything requires energy and resources and the less we demand new products, such as plastic water bottles, the less of an impact we make. Disposing of items also requires energy and may also release greenhouse gases during the decomposition of the item. Recycling decreases both upstream and downstream effects significantly.
For instance, in 2007, a total of 85 million tons of waste was recycled in the United States, contributing to a reduction in approximately 193 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (EPA 2007). These emissions are from the creation of the bottle from raw materials and the decomposition of the bottle once discarded. Carbon dioxide is a green house gas associated with the presence of climate change. Recycling has also been associated with cleaner water, soil, and subsequently healthier people and a more pristine environment (EPA 2007).
- Recycling two aluminum cans saves the equivalent energy needed to power a PC for one workday.
- 5 plastic soda bottles are enough to make the fiberfill to insulate one ski jacket.
- Recycling one glass jar saves the equivalent energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours.
- Every ton of paper recycled saves enough energy to heat and air condition the average American home for at least 6 months.
- Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 12-foot wall from New York to Los Angeles.
- If every U.S. newspaper were recycled, 250 million trees would be saved each year.