State & National


Zero Waste

Zero waste is a dynamic term that approaches solid waste from a new and arguably more effective direction. Institutions like colleges and universities are ideal settings to advance zero waste principles and demonstrate zero waste programs. In addition to introducing fundamentals and including a directory of zero waste resources , this presentation challenges campuses with the following areas for improvement:

  • What policies on sustainable resource management will be required at 
    colleges and universities?
  • What subsidies for waste and pollution should be avoided on campus?
  • What products should be boycotted from campus?
  • What green practices should be “procotted” on campus and around town?
  • What products on campus (beyond the basics) must be recoverable 
    through reuse, recycling or composting?
  • What staff and student opportunities are ripe for consumer education 
    and product take-back?
  • What campus and/or community centers are needed for total recovery— 
    reuse, recycling and composting, material exchange, and education?
  • Where are the jobs for college grads and how do they get them?

View the presentation

Recycling and Solid Waste

Presentation for establishing or expanding campus recycling programs and integrating them with solid waste disposal. Resources section includes contact information for numerous agencies and organizations.

View the Presentation

Soft Drink Vending Contract Revision

The products and packaging entering the campus from vendors’ contracts have direct financial and environmental impacts on the campus. Soft drink packaging in particular may have significant effects on a campus recycling program.

"Soft Drink Vending Contracts and Recycling: A Toolkit for Change" was prepared for the College and University Recycling Council. It is designed to help maximize the level of recycling associated with soft drink vending while promoting vendors’ assistance in recycling and waste reduction.

The Toolkit includes sample bid language, options to address recycling and waste reduction concerns, a cost analysis of converting vending machines from aluminum cans to plastic bottles, and case studies from nine schools around the country.

View the document: "Soft Drink Vending Contracts and Recycling: A Toolkit for Change"

The Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation teamed up with the University of Colorado to advance foodwaste composting in the State. Grant funding was provided recently for CU-Boulder to research and recommend ways to handle this challenging part of the waste stream.

Institutions like colleges, hospitals, and correctional facilities generate significant amounts of foodwaste. A typical cafeteria can serve over 3,000 meals each day and the resulting organic scraps and food -related paper can comprise up to seventy-five percent of total waste generation by weight.

When done properly, composting is a cost-effective strategy for diverting materials from landfills. It has the added benefit of creating valuable fertilizer that institutions can use on their grounds or generate revenue from.

See Planning Guide

Dell helps Boost E-Scrap Recycling at CU

A national award from Dell Computer, along with support from the National Recycling Coalition, helped make CU's first "Computer Round-Up" a success.  Over 17 tons of computers and peripherals were collected during the three day event.  An additional 2.9 tons were tested, secured, and bundled for donation to national and international community development organizations.

Read the full report. 

The Colorado Materials Exchange (COMEx) has begun a project to build capacity for computer and electronic reuse in Colorado. Computer reuse is the first step towards electronic waste prevention because of its efficient use of raw materials and reduction of contaminants into the waste stream. The Colorado Computer Reuse Project will increase capacity for reuse of computers, peripherals, and other electronics by providing information and opportunities for electronics reuse across the state.

More information 

University of Colorado Recycling Services

Background Information and Qualifications

The University of Colorado’s Recycling Services is a student and state funded department at the CU-Boulder campus.  Its mission is to instill awareness of the benefits of waste reduction and recycling and provide a level of service to help advance recycling off-campus.  This is accomplished through a convenient and cost-effective recycling operation supported with innovative and continuous outreach campaigns.

A unique feature of campus recycling is its ability to utilize the academic resources inherent in a higher education institution.  At CU, numerous class projects, independent studies, and internships are used each year to advance recycling.  Students are increasingly interested in careers in waste management and gain academic credit while preparing themselves for positions in this field.  This approach frequently lowers project costs while maintaining high levels of reliability and validity.

CU Recycling has been an active participant in local waste diversion efforts since 1987.  The expertise of a program like CU Recycling, which is already familiar with existing and proposed programs, is a potentially strong benefit to local and regional solid waste management efforts.

As a result of its involvement in the projects described below, CU Recycling has gained a solid reputation as a credible, impartial, information-based program.  It has been recognized by numerous organizations for its ability to deliver projects on-time and within budget.

State Recycling Survey

Between 1990–1997, the University of Colorado Recycling Services surveyed the state’s recycling activity under contract to Colorado Recycles. Colorado Recycles is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information about recycling to the public.

More than 200 collection, processing and manufacturing activities in the State were included. The University of Colorado developed surveys with both mail-in and telephone processes as preferred direct data gathering instruments.  Databases were developed and maintained with paid research student involvement.  Cross-checking techniques were developed to avoid double counting.  Recyclables quantified included Aluminum cans, glass jars and bottles, PET/HDPE plastic containers, steel food cans, newspaper, and telephone directories.  Over the course of seven years, other recyclable materials were also measured including: film plastics (LDPE), polystyrene foam, and glass aggregate building material.

The University of Colorado Recycling Services was contracted to ensure complete confidentiality and non-disclosure of all responses submitted.

State Recycling Directory

The University of Colorado Recycling Services was also contracted by Colorado Recycles to complete an annual directory of State recycling contacts.  CU oversaw this project from 1990 – 1995.  The directory resulted from over 150 survey responses from recycling activities around the State.  A database was created to maintain the accuracy of information from year to year.  Materials recycled and services offered to the public and private companies in Colorado were included.  These guides were printed as inserts to the Denver Post.

Dell Higher Education Leadership Project

Dell Computer provided funding to CU-Boulder as part of its Higher Education Recycling Leadership Award to stage a no-cost collection event for personal computers from students, faculty, staff, and alumni.  CU was one of three universities nationwide to receive this award and funding.

The “CU Computer Round-Up” was planned over the course of six months and was held May 6-8, 2005.  CU Recycling received technical assistance from the National Recycling Coalition and promotional support from Dell.  CU Recycling coordinated the logistics of the event, solicited local sponsorship and media, supervised a student intern, and provides analysis and recommendations for the Dell Corporation’s internal improvements.

The project successfully met all objectives.  Consumer awareness was increased through articles and advertisements in at least seven media outlets and direct contact with over 650 participants.  Landfill diversion was attained by recycling 17 tons and redistributing an additional 2.9 tons of bundled, late-model systems.  Disposition of end-of-life equipment was tracked with impressive (though expensive), environmental performance. Surveys were completed with each of the 348 carloads of incoming equipment.  These provided important consumer insights and valuable information to replicate future events.  Educational objectives were met both on-site through interpretive displays and handouts as well as student research from a very successful internship.

A full report was prepared to advance similar projects in the future.  The link to this report will be available soon!

Colorado Campus Recycling Network

In 2003, The Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation funded the University of Colorado to establish a network of Colorado colleges and universities involved with recycling operations. This network also intends to benefit off-campus efforts in local governments, businesses, and recycling organizations.  Some examples include:

  • higher materials recovery and diversion rates (especially for more valuable grades like aluminum and high grade paper)
  • academic resources like applied research and low cost student interns
  • potentially lucrative accounts for recycling equipment, hauling services, and supply agreements.
  • increased membership and future leadership in recycling organizations, task forces and other volunteer assignments

Tasks included developing an e-mail listserver, creating a web site as a means of sharing detailed information among the network.  The web site includes links to state, regional, and national recycling-related agencies and organizations; contact information for campus recycling programs, and a "toolbox" where schools can access program information such as job descriptions, promotional materials, curricular materials, equipment specifications, access to products/services, etc.

This network as been fairly active since its creation, though is primarily focused on campus operations.  The current proposal to the CCHE if funded, will take this existing network to the next level by including more research-related resources for students and faculty.

The Colorado Campus Recycling Network cannot be accessed at this time, we will provide it as soon as possible. 

Colorado Materials Exchange (COMEx)

COMEx is a non-profit program sponsored by C.U. Recycling.  Formally the Rocky Mountain Materials Exchange (RMMeX), COMEx's mission is to facilitate exchanges of surplus durable goods and manufacturing by-products among companies and community groups in the state.  COMEx provides alternatives to landfill disposal and encourages pollution prevention practices through the reuse of durable goods.  The motto "making the most of Colorado's materials" truly captures the spirit and intent of this innovative service.

Private and public sector groups as well as citizen and non-profit organizations are encouraged to take advantage of the Colorado Materials Exchange as a means of finding low or no cost materials and minimizing waste.  C.U. Recycling continues to sponsor this program after initial funding by the U.S.EPA and the Corporation for National Services funding expired in 2003.

COMEx is not accessible by website at this time, we will provide it as soon as possible.

Computer Reuse Project

In 2002, the U.S. EPA funded the Colorado Materials Exchange (COMEx), a project of the University of Colorado Recycling Services, to advance computer and electronic reuse in the state by providing information and opportunities for electronics reuse across the state.

The work plan with the EPA included the following tasks

  • Created a database of over 120 contacts related to computer reuse.
  • Researched best practice information on computer reuse. 
  • Developed a fact sheet and one-page resource guide of reuse operations.
  • posted all compiled information on a web site.
  • conducted presentations at six college locations across the state.

More information about the Computer Reuse Project will be available soon!

Boulder County Construction and Demolition research

In 1997, CU Recycling was selected as sub-contractor to the Boulder Recycling and Composting Authority to conduct background research and categorize information to assist in the diversion of construction and demolition materials.  CU Recycling's involvement included two parts.  The first was to survey existing local capacities to process salvageable and recyclable materials.  A database was created.  More than 25 companies and organizations were contacted and nineteen were listed.

The second part of the project identified three different types of building projects common throughout the service area: a demolition/remodeling project, a townhouse development, and semi-custom home.  For each of these, an assessment was conducted which included types and amounts of materials used and feasibility of diverting them through area salvage and recycling operations.

CU's project team consisted of two students in the Environmental Studies and Architecture and Planning programs, the Director of CU Recycling, and the office's Administrative Assistant.  The project team coordinated regularly with County staff throughout the project.

The project succeeded in a number of important ways.  The scope of reuse and recycling operations in the Boulder County area was defined and included in an expanded, more localized directory of nineteen companies and organizations.  The directory’s information was expressed in two useful formats: a quick reference guide for on-site use by contractors and laborers as well as detailed data sheets for Internet web sites and phone calls.

Institutional Food Waste Composting Guide for Colorado

In 2002. the Governors’ Office for Energy Management and Conservation (OEMC) funded CU Recycling to create a guide for food waste composting.  The principle audience for the guide was institutions in Colorado.  During the contract period, an annotated bibliography, preliminary draft, peer review, finalized copy, and press release for state and national promotion were produced.

The main deliverable for this project was a Planning Guide for Institutional Food Waste Composting in Colorado.  This document included operational, financial, promotional, and regulatory considerations toward implementing a program at colleges, universities, hospitals, and correctional facilities.  The principle goal was to enable these types of institutions to decide how best to handle their food waste.

75 copies of the guide were produced.  The guide was also posted to both the OEMC and CU Recycling web sites.  Availability of the guide was promoted through a press release developed jointly by OEMC and CU Recycling.  The press release was distributed to more than 300 state and national composting contacts as well as over 130 print media contacts in Colorado.

The project was completed within the contracted budget of $10,000.