KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The University of Missouri Kansas City is receiving national praise for its ability to save 135 tons of garbage from going into the landfill.
Students and staff at UMKC. use five gallon bins to recycle food and paper waste, as well as a system to turn their leftovers into compost. University staff tell us only 20 percent of the campus' scraps end up in the trash.
The school saves an average of $150,000 a year, by not having to pay tipping and hauling fees on the trash, according to Sustainability Coordinator Kaye Johnston. Campus staff even designed a compostable straw, after discovering plastic straws couldn't be recycled or composted.
These initiatives encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize the school in its "Food Recovery Challenge". Johnston says the university has come a long way in 7 years, when the school threw everything into the trash.
"We had a 20 yard container if you can imagine how large that is, and everything we put in it went straight to the landfill. You can also imagine the smell. It got stinky in the summertime. Now that entire container is filled with recyclables", Johnston explained.
One of the reasons Johnston believes the system works is because it is so simple.
"We don't use rocket science here. We use 5 gallon buckets. It's very simple and easy for our students and staff to learn", she added.
The University uses biodegradable cups, 100% recycled napkins and no-rinse dishwashing products.
It also recycles more than 500 pounds of cardboard every week.
At noon on Thursday the public is invited to see the university's "food recovery" system, and learn ways to model a similar recycling program of their own.