Category: Uncategorized

Talking Trash – Best Practices for Managing Solid Waste on Campus

Reposted from Tech Today

Typically reserved for campus rivalries and fantasy sports, some friendly “trash talk” can be a motivator that provides your team with that competitive advantage. In this case, we’re going to discuss actual garbage — the cardboard, candy wrappers, takeout containers, and everything else you might drop in a trash or recycling receptacle on campus.

Bad puns aside, consider the following when managing the waste you generate on campus.

Sort things out — When disposing of items on campus, you can choose to recycle. The University offers single-stream recycling for most consumer paper, plastic, and metal products. These items can be placed in the same container, or commingled, for collection and processing. Signage on or near waste receptacles on campus describe many of the materials that can be recycled, as well as items that cannot be recycled on campus, like styrofoam and plastic grocery bags.

Handle with care — Staff and vendors handle the waste that’s generated on campus every day. We all must take personal responsibility in ensuring that the waste we place in collection containers is safe for people to handle. Do not place sharp objects such as broken glass, blades, or needles in trash receptacles. In addition, liquids, chemicals, and hazardous wastes should never be placed in solid waste collection bins. These items can not only injure campus waste handlers and sorting facility personnel, but if left undetected in the waste stream they can also have long-term negative environmental impacts.

Get out of your comfort zone — Consider changing your habits. Think about your daily routine and the small changes that you can make that may save water, conserve energy, or reduce wastes. Consider a reusable water bottle or food container the next time you’re packing your lunch. Before leaving the office, remember to close that window and turn off the lights. Changes like these not only reduce daily waste, but will also have a positive measurable impact on the University’s overall environmental footprint and operational costs.

Taking a minute each day to consider your impact will help you be part of the University’s winning team when it comes to responsibly managing solid waste on campus. In the words of one of history’s most legendary trash-talkers, Muhammad Ali, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

Sustainable “Mr. Lid” Containers Now Available at North Coast Deli

Reposted from September 28 Tech Today

Green Campus Enterprise, Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) Enterprise and Dining Services are partnering to bring Sussex IM’s Mr. Lid products to North Coast Grill and Deli.

How the program works:

  1. Pay the one-time $5 program fee (and get a 10% discount on purchases!).
  2. Receive a key chain. 
  3. When you purchase food, request your food in a Mr. Lid and exchange the key chain.
  4. Once finished with your food, return your Mr. Lid to the cash register to get your key chain back.
  5. Repeat steps three and four, and enjoy!

The purposes of the Mr. Lid program are: environmental impact (sustainability), economization and turning passion into action.

October is Campus Sustainability Month

October is Campus Sustainability Month! The goal of Campus Sustainability Month is to raise awareness of campus sustainability efforts and champion sustainability leadership on campus.   There is a lot going on in October here at Michigan Tech.  Here are some ways to get involved! 

  • Keep focused on minimizing waste and recycling when possible.  As an institution, we are committed to tracking and reducing our waste production, and increasing the amount of waste that we divert into recycling, composting, and other efforts. Currently, the University has a solid waste diversion rate goal of 18%, with a diversion rate for August of 15.45%.  Your thoughtful participation helps us reduce costs, assists in developing our current recycling programs, and aligns Michigan Tech with EGLE’s goals of achieving a statewide recycling rate of 45%.
  • Sign up for a 30 minute 1:1 meeting with Michigan Tech’s Director of Sustainability and Resilience, Alan Turnquist during the weeks of October 4 or October 25.
  • Learn more about the systems that support campus life and how to use them in more sustainable ways by watching the videos available on the campus sustainability website 
  • Learn more about the leadership and activities at the Sustainability Demonstration House, where MTU students lead by examples in more sustainable living.  Open House is on October 2 from 3-6 p.m.
  • Tell us more about why campus sustainability matters to you and what you’d like to see prioritized in Michigan Tech’s upcoming sustainability action plan here
  • Send your questions or comments to sustainability@mtu.edu

Call for the Michigan Tech Sustainable and Resilient Communities Faculty Research Fellowship!

The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience is accepting applications for Sustainable and Resilient Communities Faculty Research Fellows. Fellows will receive support to buy out one or more courses from their teaching responsibilities in the Spring 2022 or Fall 2022 semester. Fellows will be expected to 1) develop and submit proposals to external funding opportunities; 2) establish a relationship with an existing center and institute to build support for sustainability & resilience research on campus; and 3) participate in Sustainable and Resilient Communities Social network and Research Collaborative (SRC-squared) events during the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Potential applicants are required to complete a short Google Form to provide information about their potential projects. Based on this pre-proposal, applicants will be contacted (within two weeks of submitting the pre-proposal Form) and potentially encouraged to apply. The full application will require: 

  • List of funding opportunities (submission deadline, max budget, link to solicitation), one paragraph describing planned submission, list of (expected) team members with indication of confirmed collaborators and collaborators to be invited (not more than 1 page)
  • Brief explanation of how these projects, if funded, align with sustainability and resilience research and how this Fellowship opportunity would allow pursuit of new opportunities that otherwise would not be pursued (not more than 1 page) 
  • A letter of support from supervising Chair or Dean with budget requirement indicated

Particularly encouraged elements include transdisciplinary and convergent teams, a combination of teams experienced in collaboration and new collaborative teams, a combination of teams internal to Michigan Tech and teams including external collaborators, and a clear connection to growing the visibility of sustainability and resilience research at Michigan Tech. Applicants should consider as a general benchmark submitting a minimum of 3 funding proposals totaling a minimum of $2 million, although more proposals and larger funding amounts are encouraged as are creative pursuits of funding opportunities outside of this general benchmark. 
The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience welcomes and encourages inquiries about this opportunity! Please contact Chelsea Schelly, cschelly@mtu.edu, with any questions.

Inaugural Husky Exchange Program a Success

This story was originally shared in Tech Today on May 24th 2021, by Alan Turnquist, Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience. Please see Tech Today for the full story.

The first ever Husky Exchange Program collected over 3,000 items from students moving out of the residence halls this spring!

The Exchange Program successfully diverted over 2,000 pounds of waste from the landfill, and more than 1,000 of these items have already been donated to local food pantries and charities.

Remaining items will be donated or sold to students moving into the residence halls in August. Any funds raised will be used to seed a student “green fund” that will be used to promote future student-led sustainability efforts on campus.

A special thanks to the more than 20 volunteers who made this possible!

Extra thanks to Alan Turnquist for initiating the Exchange Program and to the Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability & Resilience for its support.

Practical Sustainability: Healthy Trees and Student Involvement

Reposted from Tech Today

When Michigan Tech was first established, the surrounding wilderness was rapidly changing into an industrial center. Copper mining and the timber industry were providing natural resources for use across the nation. Just as this legacy of industrial growth and its structures tie us to our past, the trees on our campus connect our University to the outlying landscape and the wilderness from which it grew.

The trees on our campus provide a sense of place, natural history, and are a reminder of our relationship with the land.  Over the past several years the Department of Facilities Management has been working with a Campus Tree Advisory Committee to advance tree-related activities on campus. The Campus Tree Advisory Committee is comprised of faculty, staff, students and community members with an interest in sustainable planning, development, and education pertaining to tree care and the campus landscape. 

For the second consecutive year, Michigan Tech was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus Higher Education honoree. “The Tree Campus Higher Education program helps colleges and universities establish and sustain healthy community forests.” You can learn more about the Tree Campus Higher Education program here. Michigan Tech is one of four public universities in Michigan to be recognized for our efforts related to “promoting healthy trees and student involvement.”

The Campus Tree Advisory Committee is currently planning for another year of activities on campus and in our surrounding communities. Student involvement will also be a priority this year with a goal of developing a larger group of interested and active volunteers. Annual events include an Arbor Day observance as well as service-learning projects that require inspired and motivated student volunteers. If you have an interest in becoming a part of the University’s Tree Campus organization please send an email to treecampus-l@mtu.edu and we’ll include you in future correspondence.

New pilot program for reusable food containers launching soon!

Michigan Tech Dining Services is partnering with Consumers Product Manufacturing to implement a returnable container program. CPM is working with the reusable container brand, Mr. Lid, to reduce campus waste associated with food. Together, we are implementing the use of these containers in the Memorial Union Building to reduce the amount of single-use plastics being thrown away.
This program is currently set to launch March 8, the week after Spring Break.
CPM members will be in the MUB most days during lunch hours to offer a chance to ask questions about the program or to buy in early. Once the program launches in the MUB, you will be able to buy in at the register.

For more questions, please contact CPM Student Karen Helppi, kjhelppi@mtu.edu

How it works:

  1. Buy into the program with a one-time $5 Program Fee
  2. Receive one of 50 program key-chains
  3. At the time of check-out for your food at the North Coast Cafe (MUB), you will hand the cashier the keychain.
    1. At this time, the cashier applies a 10% discount to your food.
  4. You receive in return, your food in a reusable container
  5. Once you are ready to return the container (this can be at any time), you hand the North Coast Cafe cashier the dirty container and receive your keychain in return.
  6. The returned Mr.Lid is washed and sanitized by the MUB’s commercial dishwashers to be reused.
  7. Repeat steps 3-5 for the rest of your collegiate career!
  8. At this time, the cashier applies a 10% discount to your food.

Michigan Tech is hiring a Director of Sustainability and Resilience!

Michigan Tech is hiring a university Director of Sustainability and Resilience! The detailed job posting is available here. This is a very important position for Michigan Tech, and a very important step in the right direction for the University. I hope you’ll share this job announcement with anyone who may be interested, and I hope Michigan Tech finds and hires an innovative, passionate, and forward thinking professional to meet the unmet needs on campus in coordinating and providing long term, strategic vision for sustainability and resilience. Tomorrow needs Michigan Tech because tomorrow requires sustainability and resilience thinking, and here’s hoping this new position means Michigan Tech is ready to be proactive about planning for and participating in a more sustainable and resilient future!

Waste Diversion on Campus

This material was provided by Dan Liebau, an MTU facilities site engineer, and was originally published in Tech Today on December 14th 2020.

Anchored by the Sustainability and Resilience Tech Forward initiative, Michigan Tech continues to develop its sustainable practices on campus. Campus recycling efforts can be measured by our waste diversion rate. The waste diversion rate is the ratio of recycled material to the total weight of campus’ solid waste stream. Currently, the University has a solid waste diversion rate goal of 18%.

The monthly diversion rate for November was 18.93%. Since the beginning of the fiscal year, (July 2020) our overall solid waste diversion rate is 12.49%. By comparison, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) reported a statewide estimated recycling rate of 18.1% in 2018 – up from 15% in 2015.The intent of sharing campus waste diversion rate information is to educate our community on campus recycling initiatives and increase participation in our current recycling programs.

There’s still work to be done, and this is where you as a community member can help. Making a conscious choice to recycle not only improves the University’s waste diversion rate, it also reduces costs associated with solid waste management on campus. Participation also assists in further developing our current recycling programs and better aligning Michigan Tech with EGLE’s goals of achieving a statewide recycling rate of 45%.

Additional information and updates related to campus sustainability initiatives can be found at mtu.edu/sustainability.