Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

The University intends to divert 90 percent of its waste materials away from landfills by 2020, but its current percentage of materials diverted from landfills hovers around 35 to 40 percent, according to University waste program coordinators.

Jennifer Hobson, UT’s Zero Waste program coordinator, said the University tries to reduce its waste mainly by composting, recycling and reusing materials. The University has recently focused on its composting efforts by adding a compost program to the Union, according to Hunter Mangrum, Division of Housing & Food Service environmental specialist.

Currently, the compost at the University is collected under separate waste management contracts. The compost can be purchased back by the University after it’s been processed, but most of the compost ends up being commercially sold, Mangrum said.

“Over 300 tons of compostable material are provided by DHFS each week, all of which is processed in a matter of months,” Mangrum said.

Shelly Bergel, environmental science senior and compost manager for the UT Microfarm, said the student-run farm has its own composting system and takes compostables from places such as Micah 6 food pantry’s leftover produce. Bergel said the farm also uses DHFS coffee and tea grounds.

The Microfarm’s compost is used to fertilize its produce, so the farm can stay self-sustainable rather than purchasing compost, Bergel said. She said the farm doesn’t accept any animal products, grains, oils or grease, diseased plants, weeds or compostable plates and utensils in its composting pile, even though they are all compostable materials.

“Since [our compost] is not an industrial pile, and also because we provide some of our produce to DHFS, we need to follow certain guidelines about what to not include in our compost piles,” Bergel said.

The City of Austin has a similar “zero waste” objective to divert 90 percent of all waste materials to composting, recycling or reusing by 2040, according to Emlea Chanslor, public information officer and marketing manager for Austin Resource Recovery.

“Our next milestone is to achieve 50 percent diversion by the end of the year, which is a challenge since we’re currently at around 40 percent,” Chanslor said.

A compost-collecting pilot program which would help further the city’s zero waste goal is currently looking to expand, but it’s waiting for City Council’s approval and funding, Chanslor said.

DHFS Environmental Specialist Hunter Mangrum explains how food gets from the table to the trash at J2 Dining Hall on Monday afternoon. DHFS uses smart sustainability practices to achieve their Zero Waste project as part of the University’s movement to reduce waste.
Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

The Division of Housing and Food Services disposed of about 330 tons of compostable material in its dining halls and markets in 2014, and DHFS is working to decrease the number each year, according to Hunter Mangrum, environmental specialist with DHFS.

DHFS serves an average of 28,000 meals a day, Mangrum said. DHFS found that hundreds of pounds of excess food are thrown out every day in the dining halls.   

“In a perfect world, everyone is going to eat all of the food on their plate, but that’s not where we live,” Mangrum said. “By operating a food service unit operation on the scale that we do, waste is going to be a by-product. We want that to be as minimal as possible, but it’s going to be there.”

To collect data for the biannual study, DHFS and nutrition students sort through compost in the Kinsolving and J2 dining halls over a two-week period and weigh the amount of waste. 

DHFS’ efforts are part of the University’s Zero Waste project, a plan to divert 90 percent of waste from the University by 2020. Zero Waste coordinator Jennifer Hobson said six percent of the University’s waste comes from recycling, trash and compost, which includes food.

“I think food is definitely a big part of [Zero Waste efforts],” Hobson said. “Even if you don’t buy food on campus, a lot of students are on campus all day, so they’re probably eating at least one [University] meal a day.”

DHFS officials have started several initiatives to curb food waste, including take-home food trays, food sampling and a promotional effort called the Clean Plate Club.

DHFS removed trays from its dining halls in 2008, almost halving their excess food waste, according to Mangrum. Kinsolving and J2 disposed of a estimated 111.94 tons of excess food waste in fall 2008. After banning trays, the same facilities disposed of 58.44 tons of food waste in fall 2009. In fall 2014, Kinsolving and J2 produced an estimated 43.59 tons of excess food waste. 

Students often serve themselves large portion sizes in self-serve locations or are unsatisfied with the food’s taste, Mangrum said. 

“I feel like I leave more food sometimes,” civil engineering freshman Christine Cheng said. “Sometimes it’ll look good, and I’ll take it and I’ll be like, ‘This doesn’t taste as good as I thought it would.’”

DHFS has calculated the correct amounts of food to make and serve, and the cooks and servers in DHFS’ units are trained to serve the correct amounts on each plate, Mangrum said.

If food is left over, the chefs look at what food can be repurposed or used again in the coming days. The food that cannot be repurposed is given to Angel House Soup Kitchen in Austin, which usually occurs on a weekly basis.

“We can count on having some amount of food to give to homeless shelters and other organizations in Austin,” Mangrum said. “But we can be progressive and proactive in how we not only cut [out] our waste — whether prepping and serving — but [in how] we can purchase less.”

Photo Credit: Hannah Hadidi | Daily Texan Staff

After moving to single-stream recycling, both the Division of Housing and Food Services and the University’s main recycling program began accepting and recycling glass products in the fall 2013 semester.

The DHFS has a contract with Republic Services for its recycling and trash needs. According to environmental specialist Hunter Mangrum, it was ultimately the company’s decision to include glass in its recycling program.

“Republic gave us a call over the summer saying they would be moving into the area and letting us know, and keeping us posted on the official rollout date when they would be okay with us getting the word out about [recycling glass],” Mangrum said.

Undergraduate studies sophomore Jacquelyn Sepulveda, who has lived in a residence hall for two years, said she was not surprised to see the addition of glass as a recyclable.

“I think they just want to make it easier for students to recycle,” Sepulveda said. “UT seems like they’re always trying to make an effort to have a greener campus.”

Because the change to include glass was an amendment to the current contract with the company, Mangrum said there was no additional cost.

Recycling in academic buildings is under a different division and contracted with a different company, Balcones Resources, which also recently included glass in its recycling program, along with single stream recycling, which makes it easier on the group generating waste, facilities services manager Ben Reid said.

“Basically, it’s putting all your recyclable items into one stream versus … source-separating,” Reid said. “Source-separating is where you have your plastic, aluminum, etc., and single stream is where you put everything together and give it to the recycler, [who then sorts] it for you.”

Mangrum said the majority of glass products on campus come from off-campus retailers.

“Since we haven’t been able to recycle glass until now … there are only two glass options,” Mangrum said. “Both are made by Starbucks. They’re really high sellers, and there would be an uproar if those were to go missing, and, now, especially, since we can actually accept those items, there’s no reason to really change that stream.”

The need for glass recycling was evident by students’ actions, Reid said. Before UT’s incorporation of glass recycling, students would often leave their glass bottles on top of the current bins because they felt glass was a recyclable material, Reid said. 

Hunter Mangrum, the environmentalist specialist for the Division of Housing and Food Services, describes their rain-water reuse system that was constructed outside of Jester West last September. The water is specifically used for a garden that provides food for student consumption, as well as educating students on methods of reusing natural resources.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

As drought conditions continue to worsen, the University is in the process of expanding its water conservation efforts by targeting dorm residents’ water usage.

Markus Hogue, UT’s irrigation and water conservation coordinator, said while state legislators are considering water conservation policies, the University already has several water-saving technologies in place, including an irrigation system that reduced water usage by 66 percent in 2013. The drought will develop, persist or intensify in the majority of Texas at least through May, according to the National Weather Service.

“Luckily for UT, they saw it,” Hogue said. “They saw the writing on the wall, and they started preparing for it. The timing couldn’t have been better. We put [the system] in right when we needed it the most.”

The University’s irrigation system detects breaks and automatically turns the system off. Hogue said that feature alone saved 10 percent, or 10 million gallons, of the system’s overall usage in 2012. A system program uses live weather data, including factors such as sunlight and humidity, to determine how much water is needed.

Hunter Mangrum, an environmental specialist at the University, said UT has installed retrofits — new features that are compatible with existing systems — in dormitories with the hope of using less water. In some bath areas, Mangrum said, shower and light timers and low-flow toilets, urinals, shower heads and faucets were installed. 

Mangrum said the water-saving techniques the University can implement in older buildings may be limited.

“We still have major hurdles, and a lot of times that has to do with how buildings are built and everything that we try to pack into a building,” Mangrum said. “That’s not just a UT problem. That’s a global problem.”

Hogue said the University has saved water by changing the outdoor landscape surrounding the buildings. According to Hogue, the University’s landscaping master plan will allow the University to include more drought-resistant plants.

“Students suggested, ‘Let’s change out the landscape, so we changed out the landscape,’” Hogue said. “We put in plants that are used to the Texas weather and used to the Texas environment — huge water reduction.”

Mangrum said he thinks student input is important to making water conservation a priority on campus.

“What I would like to see in three years [or] five years are students consciously thinking about when they turn on a sink faucet and how long it’s on for,” Mangrum said. “Even a bigger dream than that is that students have so much buy-in that they are creating the new technologies.”

Hogue said he’s working on a project that will have real-time data of the water usage of every building and area on campus, and he is working with other universities and associations who are interested in making similar changes.

“Not only are we saving [water] on campus, but think of the impact we’re having on our community [by] spreading the word,” Hogue said.

Campus executive chef Robert Mayberry harvests some vegetables from the Kingsolving garden Tuesday afternoon. The success of Kingsolving’s garden has led to the creation of a new garden in Jester this past September and the creation of Green Corps, an organization to help harvest and maintain both residence hall gardens. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Austin is known for its locally grown foods, but the Jester dining halls take it a step further. Since December, some of the produce on Jester’s shelves has been grown in a student-run garden just outside.

The new garden was commissioned in September of last year after the success of the Kinsolving garden, which was constructed in 2009 to provide vegetables and herbs to the chefs in UT dining halls. 

Green Corps, an organization created this year by the University to educate students about the importance of locally grown food, provides assistance in maintaining the two residence hall gardens at the University. Before Green Corps, kitchen staff had to maintain the garden.

“We really wanted staff and students aware of environmentally friendly ways of eating and living,” said Rachel Markowitz, student manager of Green Corps. “If you’re going to talk about sustainable food, you should grow some of your own.” 

Currently, the garden’s main produce is lettuce because of its fast growth rate. Markowitz said Green Corps will most likely plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and peas in the spring. 

According to Hunter Mangrum, environmental specialist for the Division of Housing and Food Service, Green Corps has harvested lettuce and radishes about four times this season and was able to harvest six to eight pounds of the vegetables in total. The amount of produce harvested from the gardens is limited because Green Corps’ mission is to grow things that thrive in Central Texas without needing to use pesticides, Markowitz said.

Unlike many home gardens that are watered with hoses or sprinklers, the University’s residence hall gardens each have an 8,000-gallon rainwater collection tank that runs off of solar power. The tanks collect and filter rainwater from the rooftops and use drip irrigation lines to water the plants.

“[The gardens] don’t consume any grid electricity or water,” Mangrum said. “There’s no city water or UT electricity that goes into this.”

The Division of Housing and Food Services has no concrete plans to build another residence hall garden, but it does have a group of students planning a pilot mushroom garden that can be replicated in dark corners on campus. 

“We’re like this little concrete island in the middle of the city, but we’re growing produce at the same time and using students in a way that they can get experience that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Mangrum said.

Campus executive chef Robert Mayberry said he liked the idea of growing organic produce at the University because he wants to provide more sustainable food to students.

“I love having it right there, fresh from the garden when I’m ready to use it,” Mayberry said. “It makes a big difference in quality and flavor.”

The amount of sustainable, local and organic food purchased for the dining halls makes up over 20 percent of the total food budget, Mayberry said. 

According to Mayberry, the main supplier of produce for on-campus dorms is US Food Services, and, for the last four to five years, the University has worked with the Sustainable Food Center to use local, small farms.

Robert Mayberry, executive chef for UT’s Division of Housing and Food Services, cares for a plot at The Concho Community Garden that produces a small amount of food used at UT.  DHFS is currently building a new garden at Jester Dormitory that will be powered by rainwater collection and solar energy and will grow fruits and vegetables for the dining halls.

Photo Credit: Erika Rich | Daily Texan Staff

UT broke ground on a new food garden this month that will bring more homegrown food to campus plates this fall, an increasingly common practice at Texas institutions looking for sustainable practices during the state’s three-year drought.

Spanning several hundred feet along Brackenridge Hall on 21st Street, the Jester South Garden will produce fruits and vegetables to be served at UT residence halls. The garden will be self-sustaining, supported by rainwater collection and a water pump powered by solar energy. Officials are currently preparing land to plant food in the garden, which could be completed as early as September.

UT officials said although growing their own food comes with cost and weather challenges, the new garden will support various food programs on campus and reduce the University’s dependence on outside providers, which are often plagued by high demand.

The new garden would help the University reach its goal of providing as much local and homegrown food as it can on campus, officials said.

“Organic produce requires a lot more patience, research and understanding of the nature of soil, but we are better off understanding the place we grow and using methods that reduce our footprint and are natural to that environment,” said Hunter Mangrum, an environmental specialist for the Division of Housing and Food Services.

Only 5 percent of commercial institutions nationwide produce their own food, and UT is one of them, Mangrum said. Along with the Jester South Garden, UT also runs the Kinsolving Courtyard Garden on Whitis Avenue and the Concho Community Gardens in East Campus.

The University makes a concentrated effort to obtain any food it does not grow itself from local farms in Central Texas, officials said, which is not always easy because of drought conditions and demand. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted this month that it expects drought conditions in Texas to continue through October.

Officials say sustainable gardens help reduce DHFS’s dependence on the Sustainable Food Center of Austin. 

During the 2012-2013 academic year, DFHS obtained 23 percent of its $8 million food budget from local foods grown at farms smaller than 200 acres within a 150-mile radius of UT.

Mangrum said the Jester South Garden will grow a variety of produce. Summer and spring will yield fruits and vegetables while winter will bring potatoes and squashes. 

A team of undergraduate and graduate students will be trained in the fall on how to maintain the garden, Mangrum said.

The new garden will also increase support for other food programs on campus, including Farm to Work, which allows faculty and staff to have produce delivered to their workplace every week.

The program has already become very popular, said Claire Moore, a manager in Human Resource Services. Moore said the Jester South Garden would increase the amount of produce available to University employees through the program.

“The employees are really enjoying it, the farmers had a good turnout and they’re happy with the amount of boxes that have been ordered,” Moore said. “We’ve had great reviews and there have been a lot of repeat customers.”

Robert Mayberry, an executive chef and food service manager, will lead the choice of what crops to plant and harvest in the garden.

Mayberry said there would be many challenges ahead for the garden, including the higher costs of small-scale farming and susceptibility to local weather conditions.

However, Mayberry said the garden is still a step up from mass agribusiness that brings in low-cost foods at the risk of heavy chemical practices and practices that damage soil in the long-term.

“Low-cost and abundant food can be looked at as a loan,” Mayberry said. “Someone down the line will have to pay the bill, and it will come due.”

Correction on July 24: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the garden would yield fruits and vegetables in the winter. This is incorrect. The garden will yield fruits and vegetables in the summer. The article also stated that the Sustainable Food Center of Austin was DHFS's largest food provider. DHFS is actually the center's largest buyer.

Freshman environmental sciences major Sahonara Gonzalez removes weeds from a planter at Kinsolving’s Fruit and Vegetable Garden on Sunday morning.

Photo Credit: Guillermo Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Students added mulch, new compost and a trellis for climbing plants to grow on to Kinsolving Dining Hall’s garden Sunday morning, in the first event of the Division of Housing and Food Service’s “Earth Week.”

The garden workday, a come-and-go event open to students, faculty and staff, was organized by DHFS environmental specialist Hunter Mangrum.

Mangrum said the garden is a part of DHFS’s goal to make students more aware of how and where their food is produced. 

“We want our gardens to be a teaching platform,” Mangrum said. “You can see, this is where food comes from. It doesn’t come from a supermarket, but it actually grows and there’s a seeding process and there’s a whole system involved in producing food.”

Biochemistry freshman Sanghwa Park, who came out to learn about gardening, said she does not have gardening experience, but she likes the idea of helping to build a garden.

“If you’ve ever been to the Lady Bird Johnson [Wildflower] Center, the main message is conservation and you can build your own garden in a small area,” Park said.

Environmental science freshman Heather Rovner, who works part-time to maintain the garden, said she enjoys working on the garden because it is sustainable.

On Monday, DHFS will follow up its gardening event with an Earth Day Carnival on Gregory Plaza. The next day, it will host a film screening of Y.E.R.T.: Your Environmental Road Trip, a movie about a trip to all 50 states exploring sustainability.

“The things we’re doing this week are things that we really care about,” Mangrum said. “I’m really excited about the film screening, because I went to a conference in LA and met the people who filmed it and put [it] together. I think it’s just a really well-done documentary.”

On Wednesday, DHFS will tally the results of an inter-dorm competition to reduce power consumption. Mangrum said he will work to make the competition better-known next year.

DHFS’s earth week will end Thursday on its “Harvest Dinner” in J2 and Kinsolving, which serves locally-sourced, sustainable foods one day for dinner each year.

“It’s pretty in-depth to have all the pieces come in to play where people know about it,” Mangrum said. “We do a lot of work behind the scenes to do all the prep for the food.”

Mangrum said greens from local sources often are not as processed as what DHFS normally buys, requiring them to do more preparation of their own.

“[Let’s say you buy Swiss chard,] our chefs have to go through and take the spine out and get them into an edible state,” Mangrum said.

At the end of the day, DHFS food service unit manager Robert Mayberry said sustainability for DHFS normally comes from small things, including incremental power cuts and using herbs from its own gardens.

“There’s just a lot of little things that can make the campus more sustainable,” Mayberry said.

Photo Credit: Olivia Kwong | Daily Texan Staff

Students who forgetfully stash collections of reusable grocery bags in closets and car trunks will actually need to remember to bring their bags into stores starting Friday, when a city-wide ordinance banning single-use plastic bags in retail stores takes effect.

The ordinance, passed by City Council in March 2012, mandates retail stores in the city to stop handing out single-use plastic bags to encourage the reuse of bags. Exemptions to the ordinance include such items as restaurant take-out bags and bags for bulk items, produce, alcohol and medicine. 

Courtney Black, public information specialist for Austin Resource Recovery, said the city’s goal is to reduce 90 percent of waste in landfills by the year 2040.

“We’ve been doing a significant amount of outreach over the last year in the hopes that when the March 1 date lands it’ll be a smooth transition,” Black said. “Basically, our biggest message to consumers is to remember their reusable bags, but not to worry if they forget.”

Establishments can apply for certain types of exemptions based on their business practices. Black said grocery retailer H-E-B has been approved for an emergency access exemption, allowing them to sell single-use bags at $1 per transaction to customers who forget to bring their bags.

Hunter Mangrum, environmental specialist for UT’s Division of Housing and Food Service, said DHFS has been sourcing biodegradable bags for on-campus convenience stores since at least 2006. Although DHFS is not required to abide by city ordinance, Mangrum said they are committed to promoting their eco-friendly practices to students.

“As far as DHFS goes, we’re technically in compliance with the bag ban no matter what, because there isn’t a stipulation in any ordinance about biodegradable bags,” Mangrum said. “We do also sell a reusable bag that we promote and you can get discounts for using at our locations.”

Mangrum said though he does not foresee the transition going over smoothly, changing routines is a key part of the process.

“It’s going to affect behavior,” Mangrum said. “That’s what we’re really trying to do in this field, is trying to get people to approach their daily tasks differently so we can affect the world we live in.” 

Cary Rabb, president of Wag-A-Bag Convenience Stores, said he is concerned about how the bag ban will affect business. The chain opened in Round Rock in 1964. They will be charging customers 18 cents more per transaction for reusable plastic bags. Rabb said if larger retailers receive exemptions, it disadvantages other businesses.  

“We also hear that our largest grocery retailer in Austin is exempt for a year, which is very frustrating,” Rabb said. “[It] seems like the ordinance should apply to all, because the customer will be confused when they shop with us versus another retailer who may be exempt. Other than that, we are prepared for Friday but concerned as well.”

Melissa Broaddus, mechanical engineering freshman, said she doesn’t see the ban having a large effect on the city’s waste problem, but carrying reusable bags won’t be an inconvenience.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of an effect,” Broaddus said. “Plastic bags aren’t a huge part of the waste, there’s a lot of other things that are going to contribute to that, so if you’re going to reduce it you’re going to have to reduce other things, too.”

Ph. D. student Soo-hyun Yang throws away her trash in a compost bin at Littlefield Cafe.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The UT Division of Housing and Food Service is teaming with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce its food waste by 5 percent in one year.

The department announced Friday its participation in the EPA’s national Food Recovery Challenge, which tasks participants with decreasing food waste by reducing unnecessary consumption and increasing composting and food donations to charity. The EPA estimates 34 million tons of food are wasted annually in the U.S., much of which ends up in landfills and becomes a significant source of greenhouse gases.

DHFS environmental specialist Hunter Mangrum said the department has been working to reduce food waste for many years by introducing single-stream recycling in dorms, composting, monitoring purchasing and donating over-produced food. Mangrum said it is important that UT be a leader in developing and implementing projects aimed at sustainability and waste reduction.

“In my opinion, this is a global issue, and we are a part of an institution that is globally minded. Thus, it is our responsibility and deep-rooted desire to help better humanity,” Mangrum said. “And I believe here at UT is where so much of that can be fostered, practiced and then shared with the rest of the world.”

While DHFS has not announced any new programs to ensure it meets the program’s 5 percent reduction goal, Mangrum said the resources the EPA will provide through the Food Recovery Challenge may bring added efficiency and new ideas to the department. One such resource that DHFS will use is the WasteWise Re-TRAC, a data managing and reporting system that records and tracks waste generation and reduction activities.

In participating in the Food Recovery Challenge, UT joins Rice University, Baylor University, University of Houston and UT-Arlington, becoming the fifth university in Texas to make the pledge to reduce food waste.

EPA environmental engineer Golam Mustafa said UT will be a valued participant because of its large-scale dining and food operations and the opportunity to educate students about environmental sustainability.

“The reason we are approaching universities is because it’s where our future generations will be educated,” Mustafa said. “They will be taking care of the environment. In our society we waste a lot of food because food is cheap here and it is a very small percentage of our total income compared to Third World countries.”

Mustafa said the 5 percent reduction goal is not binding, and the resources offered by the EPA will continue to be available after a year.

Collin Poirot, political communications senior and assistant director of the Campus Environmental Center, said the University’s decision to take part in the EPA program has partly to do with student advocacy for the issue. The Campus Environmental Center is a sponsored student organization that works to educate students on environmental issues and develop sustainability projects on campus.

“The fact that UT-Austin, one of the largest universities in the country, is helping to lead the way on the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge shows that the administration has listened to student concerns,” Poirot said. “More and more universities across the country are realizing that students want to live somewhere that offers them the opportunity to live sustainably.”

Alejandro Paredes, a member of the Engineers for a Sustainable World, discusses recycling of old computer parts with UT students during America Recycles Day. America Recycles Day brought together students from the Student Engineering Council, Engineers for a Sustainable World and various other student groups to teach people about different ways to recycle.
Photo Credit: Ben Chesnut | Daily Texan Staff

Students said no to electronic waste Thursday by recycling outdated devices in observance of America Recycles Day.

The Campus Environmental Center recognized the national holiday by hosting a recycling drive to collect students’ recyclable waste, including plastic bags, glass and electronics. Engineers for a Sustainable World, Engineering Council Sustainable Committee, the Office of Sustainability and the Division of Housing and Food Service set up tables at the event to collect specific items and educate students on the benefits of recycling.

The Campus Environmental Center hosts a recycling drive in honor of the holiday every year and focuses on a particular item to recycle each drive.

Hunter Mangrum, spokesperson for the Division of Housing and Food Service, said the division is working to help students become familiar with recycling electronic waste. Electronic waste bins will be placed in residence halls before the end of November, Mangrum said. He said in addition to encouraging students to recycle electronic waste, the division has made all recycling bins into single-stream collections that collect plastic, aluminum and compost. 

“The ultimate goal as a University is to empower students to take on the motto to change the world,” Mangrum said. “We hope that this will become the norm and that students will spread their education and environmentally conscious methods elsewhere.”

Psychology senior Faith Shin, director of the Campus Environmental Center, said the few places where electronic waste on campus can be recycled are often inaccessible to students. Shin said many students throw out their electronics because of this, resulting in a lifetime in a landfill and the leaking of toxic chemicals into water sources.

“Students consistently have to change out their electronics,” Shin said. “They typically change their cell phones every two years and their computers every three years. With this growing number, e-waste is becoming more of a problem on campus.”

According to the United Nations Environmental Program, an estimated 20 to 50 million tons of electronic waste is disposed of globally each year. Less than 20 percent of electronic waste worldwide is recycled, and 80 percent of U.S. electronic waste is exported to Asia, according to Do Something, an organization for social change.

Geography junior Reanna Bain, assistant director of the Campus Environmental Center, said the harmful chemicals electronic waste contains, such as mercury and lead, are detrimental to the water supplies of countries that receive U.S. electronic waste.

“E-waste is making whole countries into landfills of electronics,” Bain said.

Printed on Friday, November 16, 2012 as: E-waste added to recycling list