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ESF Wins NYSAR3 Award

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has received the 2020 Recycling Leadership Award from NYSAR3, the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling, in the education category. Sue Fassler, sustainable facilities manager, accepted the award virtually.

The award recognizes ESF's efforts to re-imagine recycling, composting, reuse and waste prevention initiatives. College-wide efforts in these areas are the foundation for the College's drive to zero campus waste by 2025. Specifically, ESF received recognition for increasing its diversion rate to 48% (from 34%); increasing recycling by 46% (by weight); and decreasing trash by 34% (by weight). In addition, the College has reduced trash collection by external haulers by 40%.

"ESF's campus community, especially our students, expect to see us make great strides in reducing the amount of waste we produce on campus," said Fassler. "We want to lead in this area, and this recognition will help us generate even more energy and excitement as we move toward our zero-waste goal. It also confirms that change can happen quickly and that organizations can move beyond 'the way it's always been done' approach. Thank you, NYSAR; we are honored."

After evaluating its materials management system, ESF welcomed the fall 2019 semester with a campus-wide composting program that included strategic placement of consistently designed and labelled trash/recycling/compost bins and shifted from 10-gallon office trash bins to linerless 1.15-gallon mini bins. Triple sets of bins were placed on every floor, in every campus building to ensure ease of access. Educational material was placed on every bin with clear and compelling messages.

"Operations (custodial and grounds) staff helped to build this revamped program and deserve a large share of the credit for the progress that the campus has made," said Fassler. "The campus community as a whole has also embraced and welcomed change: this is something that is not easy to do," said Fassler.

In addition, the campus Cafe transitioned to using predominantly compostable to-go materials and developed messaging that encouraged patrons to bring their own to-go container and utensils for zero waste eating. Multiple workshops helped to invite participation, and student groups on campus volunteered as "Trash Talkers" to raise awareness.