By Kikei Wong
UCLA Zero Waste Manager
UCLA was recognized by the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) with The Outstanding Higher Education Program Award, given annually to an institution of higher education to recognize exceptional efforts in waste reduction, recycling, and building professional development opportunities for students with an interest in recycling technologies.
The NRC is a non-profit organization that is focused on the promotion and enhancement of recycling in the United States, representing and advocating for every sector of the recycling industry across the country at the local, state, and federal levels.
The NRC highlighted our efforts in boosting waste programs including standardizing infrastructure, implementing centralized waste collection, expanding the Zero Waste Ambassadors student program, developing a strong social media presence, and researching the barriers to zero waste on and off campus. These programs and initiatives strengthen our endeavors to reach UCLA’s Zero Waste Goals by increasing accessibility of waste infrastructure and creating programming that meets the needs of the campus while providing students with professional development opportunities that prepare them for post-graduation. Recent alumni involved in the programs now work in local government, the UC system, non-profit organizations, and waste haulers while others have entered graduate school.
We appreciate NRC’s recognition of our efforts to eliminate waste and to boost resource recovery. With the fast growing zero waste initiatives on campus, we strive to empower our entire Bruin community with not only foundational knowledge and skills, but with the resources for success to achieve our goals. UCLA continues to build upon zero waste efforts with the implementation of the campus-wide Single-Use Plastics Policy, adopted in October 2020. The Policy phases out single-use plastics such as plastic bags, plastic foodservice items, and beverage bottles and instead transitions to reusable or locally compostable alternatives. This applies to all foodservice facilities, events, fundraisers, and meetings that serve food or beverages on campus and requires campus-wide collaboration and cooperation from students, faculty, and staff. UCLA’s goals will be achieved with the support of every member of the UCLA community.
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