What is waste diversion?

By Eco Ambassador Anna Arriaga

This week marks the start of the annual Campus Race to Zero Waste. Emerson has entered the waste diversion division of the competition this year. 

Waste diversion, or landfill diversion, is the process of diverting waste from landfills for uses such as recycling, composting, or repurposing. The main goal is to simply reduce the amount of waste in landfills and incineration while also getting more use out of the resources required to make materials. This reduces emissions and cuts down on disposal costs, according to the EPA. Some examples of waste diversion on Emerson campus are our compost and recycling bins, our recycling of construction waste, our sustainable move-out program, and events like Clean Out Your Office day.

Recycling and Landfill bins on the 4th floor of the Walker building.

Every day, the average American produces about 4.40 pounds of waste. According to this estimate, the average American makes more than 1500 pounds of waste per year – today, there are 334,000,000 people in the United States alone. While the facts may seem grim, it’s essential to remember that the waste we produce includes valuable products such as recyclable materials that could create building supplies or clothing and food waste, which can be converted into compost and energy. 

When sorted and disposed of correctly, much of our waste can be used for good. Waste diversion is an everyday act that makes a big difference for the environment. 

To get people excited, we’re participating in a friendly competition including universities across North America called the Campus Race to Zero Waste— with the goal of increasing waste diversion on campus. You can read more about it here.

The best ways to get involved, both during the eight weeks of the Campus Race to Zero Waste and after the fact, is to continue learning about the differences between recycling, trash, and compost, as well as making sure you can divert waste with this knowledge in your day-to-day life at home. If you’re an on campus student, you have recycling and composting options readily available both in the dorm buildings and the dining halls. If you’re an off campus student, you can remember to properly sort and recycle your waste and consider getting a compost pick-up membership through the city of Boston or third party services like Bootstrap.

Let’s all work together to give Emerson’s waste a second life! 

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