CSU, Chico News

CSU, Chico Associated Students Pledge Zero Waste

Date: 09-01-2009

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Trevor Prater, Public Relations Intern
The Institute for Sustainable Development

The Associated Students (AS) at California State University, Chico has made a formal commitment to become a Zero Waste organization by the year 2015. With this goal as their beacon, the AS will gradually reduce waste generated by the organization each year in order to achieve a waste diversion rate of 90 percent or better by 2015.

No other campus in the California State University system has made a commitment to Zero Waste. Already leaders of the sustainability movement in the CSU system, CSU, Chico’s Associated Students organization hopes to use this corporate goal as an example, encouraging the university and other CSU campuses to commit to a zero waste resolution as well. The University of California adopted a Zero Waste resolution in 2008, with their complete diversion goal aimed for 2020.

A waste characterization analysis of the Bell Memorial Union conducted April 15-17 showed a current diversion rate of 65 percent but also showed that the majority of waste generated had potential to be diverted through composting or recycling.

Zero Waste is defined as achieving a 90 percent waste diversion rate or better. This means 90 percent of the waste produced by the school could be diverted away from landfills and become recycled, reused or composted instead. The measure was initially introduced to the AS Board of Directors in February as an informational item, but the board felt that it would be inappropriate to bring the resolution to a vote until a waste characterization analysis could be performed to determine current diversion rates and the feasibility of reaching these Zero Waste goals.

The AS has already adopted a number of sustainable business practices that are in line with Zero Waste principles. Currently the AS composts nearly 200,000 pounds of food scraps each year from CSU, Chico’s cafeterias, coffee shops and AS Catering. CSU, Chico has the second most successful book buyback program in the nation (at around 50%) and recently placed second in California for Waste Minimization during Recycle Mania, a nationwide collegiate recycling competition. AS Sustainability Coordinator Robyn DiFalco said that adopting a commitment to Zero Waste is the next step in maximizing sustainability at CSU, Chico.

Though board members had some concerns regarding student participation in reducing waste output and the likelihood of students putting their trash in the appropriate bins, after a presentation by Recycling Coordinator Eli Goodsell, the board voted unanimously to adopt the resolution. “Setting up the infrastructure and making Zero Waste practices as convenient as possible is the most important step,” said Goodsell. “We have to continuously educate the public, particularly since the student population is always changing year to year.”

While the AS and CSU, Chico are separate entities, the AS board believes the enactment of a Zero Waste commitment for AS could soon encourage the university to do the same. This would make CSU, Chico the first state university in California to adopt a formal commitment to Zero Waste and uphold its position as a leader on the campus sustainability front.