waste sorters at UCSF

UCSF Campus has waste sorters to help comply with the city mandate.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Spring is in the air. The intense weather of this past winter has given over to longer days and meadows bursting with wildflowers.

As we continue to celebrate the beauty of spring and explore the different Earth Month events around the city, it’s important to be aware of the opportunities available at UCSF and how we are working towards a better future as a community through the tried and true methods of reducing, reusing, and recycling. 

UCSF Campus Science has an ambitious zero waste goal of 90% diversion rate, or percentage of total waste not sent to landfills, while UCSF Health has a 50% diversion rate. To this end, several pilot programs and campaigns are being implemented for continued improvement of waste reduction. 

One particular program recently researched the effects of new custom signs and lids on bins to investigate how we can better reduce waste. As one of the main issues affecting waste diversion is controlling our waste contamination, it is important to learn how to properly sort materials. 

UCSF Campus has waste sorters to help us comply with the city mandate, but UCSF Health does not. Reducing our waste can be as easy as taking the time to learn how to properly sort waste from recyclable and compostables with this mobile friendly website

We can further reduce the quantity of waste produced by thinking about how we can reuse objects we already have. We can give goods an opportunity to extend their lives in so many ways like by shopping in thrift stores or sipping beverages with reusable containers. UCSF has partnered with IT and Facilities Services to repurpose office equipment, electronic materials, and furniture from office- or building-wide moveout events for employees to reuse in their remote or onsite workstations. 

Out of the office and into the laboratory, goods are more difficult to reuse. One project in the works is partnering with a vendor focused on collecting lab plastics to grind and mold them into new lab plastics for use. 

Still, producing lab waste is nearly impossible to avoid, and there are only so many materials we can safely reuse. One option for those working in science labs is to recycle the packaging that your products come in. 

Recycling is the process of taking produced items and converting them into other materials for continued use. For those interested in an eye-opening experience, Recology offers in-person tours for UCSF community members wishing to take a deep dive into the recycling process. Virtual tours are also available. 

As we revel in spring and continue to celebrate Earth Month with the various campus and city events, let’s remember that we can all play a role in creating a healthier and more sustainable future. 

All of these opportunities for reducing, reusing, and recycling can only make a difference with your help.