Published: April 27, 2022 By

Our Sustainability Pitch to Improve Waste Diversion Rates on Campus

Members of the Zero Waste Outreach Team

Recycle Like A Buff - Poster Submission

Members of the Zero Waste Outreach Team

We are excited to announce that our Zero Waste Outreach Team has submitted a proposal to the 29th Annual Campus Sustainability Summit and the 3rd Annual President’s Sustainable Solutions Challenge this year and was selected to be a top 5 finalist! We are excited to pitch our idea, “Recycle Like a Buff”, to judges in hopes that our Freshman orientation training session will be permanently implemented into CU’s campus culture in order to solidify the importance of sustainable practices on campus and in the world.

In 2022, the Recycling Operations Center conducted a waste audit on various buildings on campus in order to determine how well people were sorting their trash. It is the goal of the Recycling Operations Center on campus that all materials must be sorted to their highest potential to live a second life without the need to extract ort more virgin materials from the earth. The Recycling auditors collected 214 pounds of waste from the landfill bins and then diligently sorted them to determine how much of the landfilled items were properly landfilled or could’ve been diverted. Diverted means that these items should have been recycled or composted. The audit determined that by weight, 65-75% of all landfilled items could’ve been diverted.

The full waste audit shown in this graph proves that there is an obvious lack of education regarding how to properly sort trash items. Although we do have grade sheets located above each trash vessel, our team saw this data and recognized that in order to get better campus diversion rates, the culture on campus regarding zero waste habits must change.

This is where our solution comes into play. We are proposing to implement a mandatory Freshman Orientation Training that centers around zero-waste habits on campus and beyond. The interactive presentation will only take 20 minutes and will set the foundation for a campus culture where zero-waste habits are not only encouraged but expected. The presentation will be taught by passionate upperclassmen students and help educate students on the importance of recycling as well as connecting them to resources on how they can get involved in sustainability efforts on campus.

The seven of us are lucky to have found a supportive community within the Environmental Center, a hub on campus centered around student leadership and ingenuity for social equity, economic vitality, and ecological resilience. Our team has specific experience working with the Zero Waste Outreach segment of our school as we have seen first-hand the lack of education that these students are exposed to.

A study done in 2017 stated that 79% of students indicated sustainability was important to them before attending CU and now sustainability is 95% important to them after attending CU. These numbers prove that students care and want to improve their sustainability habits but may not know how to. Connecting students with resources and exposing them to the Environmental Center’s goals from the day one can transform our campus community in ways we may not even be able to fully imagine. Although recycling and composting is not the stand-alone solution to climate change, we hope that this presentation will help students realize how individual actions have great impacts that could change the world.


“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” 

- Nelson Mandela

Below is a video of our pitch, which allowed us to win 2nd place for the Presidents Sustainable Solutions Challenge.

Please direct any questions to or DM us on Instagram @CUZeroWaste.