Campus News

UK Recycling on Track to Reach Waste Diversion Goal

photo of person putting bag in recycling bin
Recycling bins were placed in all residence halls last year during move out.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 7, 2022) — University of Kentucky Recycling had a 47% waste diversion rate for the academic campus in the 2021 calendar year. UK has a target of diverting 50% of its campus waste from the landfill by the end of 2022 and is on track to reach or surpass that goal by the end of the year.

A waste diversion rate is the percentage of material (by weight) that is recycled, composted or reused, versus the total amount of waste generated. UK’s goal is to recycle, compost and reuse at least as much as is sent to the landfill.

The 2021 diversion rate is a 5% increase over 2020. The increase in diversion rate is due to:

  • An increase in general recycling collected (from 791 tons in 2020 to 839 tons in 2021)
  • An increase in cardboard recycled
  • An increase in the residence halls’ recycling stream
  • An increase in food waste diverted from dining facilities (from 33 tons to 42 tons)
  • An overall increase in the UK community participating and supporting the university’s goals to reduce waste. 

UK’s yearly participation in Campus Race to Zero Waste, a nationwide competition that encourages students to recycle, also helped in these efforts.

During this year’s event, from Feb. 3 to March 25, the university recycled a total of 286,320 lbs. (143 tons) and collected 23,480 lbs. (about 12 tons) of food waste for composting. According to Campus Race to Zero Waste’s website, that is the equivalent of removing 92 cars off the road or the energy consumption of 42 households.

“UK Recycling is thrilled about reaching this level of diversion and thankful for all the members in the University of Kentucky who are helping reach the goal of 50% waste diversion,” said Esther Moberly, UK’s waste, recycling and trucking manager. “We are so close to reaching that goal and ready to go beyond it. Everyone produces waste every day and has a personal role in helping the university manage our waste in a responsible manner.”

For more information about UK recycling and the university’s waste reduction goals, click here or follow @UKYRecycles on social media.  

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.