University makes gradual changes toward sustainability
The Justice looked at how recyling and compost work on campus since the University made changes to its Climate Action Plan.
Since 2016, Brandeis has slowly been transitioning to increasing recycling and composting around campus.
The University rewrote its Climate Action Plan in 2015 and implemented it in 2016. The Climate Action Plan aimed to reduce emissions by 10% by 2018 and 15% by 2020, according to the Office of Sustainability’s website. The Office of Sustainability said on their website that the University completed its short-term goal and has reduced emissions by 12.6% since 2015.
The Office of Sustainability also said that it has a short-term goal to “increase our recycling rate to at least 40% of our waste stream,” as well as to expand composting.
In 2015, before Brandeis began these initiatives, researchers concluded as part of the Climate Action Plan that “Brandeis [used] approximately 25% more energy per gross square foot than our peers.” Brandeis’ energy usage was compared to 16 New England research institutions, 40 private New England schools, and eight comparable schools nationwide.
The Office of Sustainability’s website said it aims to increase composting and recycling by working with Sustainable Brandeis, the Facilities Services Team and Sodexo. All of the food scraps “both in the kitchen during meal prep and plate scrapings from meals, are composted in Lower Usdan and Sherman,” according to the Office of Sustainability’s website.
However, sustainability goes beyond dining and is also taken into account with Brandeis Catering Services. The website for the Office of Sustainability said that, starting in January 2019, Brandeis Catering Services would be switching to all-compostable tableware from the tableware made from number six plastic it had previously used. This switch would come at no additional cost to the customer. Number six plastic is also known as polystyrene and not typically recycled, according to the Sea Studios Foundation.
According to Sodexo’s website, “pre-consumer and post-consumer food waste from our kitchen and the dish room is all collected by an off-site waste management vendor to be composted.” Sodexo also said on its website that the paper napkins and plates used in Sherman Dining Hall’s Kosher dining section are composted.
At “Let’s Talk Trash,” an event held in January by Sustainability Programs Manager Mary Fischer, Fischer said that the University partnered with Black Earth Compost to manage its composting and recycling services. Black Earth Compost also works with Wegmans and the New England Aquarium and uses compostable bags to collect compost, according to the company’s website.
The Office of Sustainability’s website said that the rules of thumb for recycling include “when in doubt, throw it out,” “keep recycling clean” and “no plastic bags or plastic film, except in grocery store collection boxes.”