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.  

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.