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EPA Honors UCI for Zero Waste and Food Recovery Achievements

Release Date: 09/27/2013
Contact Information: UCI: Cathy Lawhon, 949-824-1151, clawhon@uci.edu U.S. EPA: Nahal Mogharabi, 213-244-1815, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov


Deputy Administrator joins students for earth-friendly lunch

IRVINE– Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator, Bob Perciasepe honored the University of California, Irvine on its zero waste and food recovery efforts. UC Irvine’s zero waste program diverts from landfills 83 percent of the campus’s total waste materials by recycling, reusing and composting. In addition, the university has increased its food waste diversion from 90 tons in 2010 to 500 tons in 2012, when it joined the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge.

“UC Irvine is doing fantastic work as a participant in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. It provides a great example for universities across the nation,” said Perciasepe. “Through its efforts to prevent food waste, UC Irvine is saving money, protecting the environment and helping to curb climate change.”

The campus’s Facilities Management recycle team, Waste Management of Orange County and Aramark Campus Dining Services have worked together to curb food waste since 2010, when Waste Management opened its food waste and organics recycling facility in Orange and accepted UC Irvine as a pilot-phase partner. Food waste delivered to the facility is processed and transformed into a Waste Management proprietary organic bio-slurry that has a number of sustainability applications, including the creation of green energy.

“This is just one aspect of UCI’s comprehensive waste management program and a great example of what can be accomplished when everyone works together,” said Wendell Brase, vice chancellor for administrative & business services at UC Irvine. “We are honored that Deputy Administrator Perciasepe chose to personally recognize the individuals and organizations responsible for this achievement.”

Nationally, 35 million tons of food is wasted per year—making it the single largest material sent to landfills. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In turn, limiting wasted food will reduce methane emissions. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge asks universities, businesses, and other organizations to reduce wasted food through food waste prevention, donation, composting, or anaerobic digestion.

Other campus waste-reduction projects are supported through UC Irvine’s Green Initiative Fund. Important advances in university recycling programs include the following:
    The addition of labeled lids to recycling bins on Ring Mall has expanded the commingled recycling project to all campus pedestrian pathways. Ring Mall recycling went from 0 percent to 50 percent in the first year of use.
      Commingled bins in 170 classrooms have increased recycling from 0 percent to 75 percent in the first year of use.
        Hydration stations around campus that promote refillable water bottle use have reduced the use of disposable plastic bottles by 14 tons. More than 509,000 reusable bottles have been filled.
          Nearly 90 percent of campus events with more than 2,000 attendees are classified as zero-waste, thanks to the purchase of specialized bins.
          “Through all of these projects and more, we are reducing the amount of waste we produce on campus and are recycling or composting materials that otherwise would have ended up in a local landfill,” said Anne Krieghoff, sustainability manager for UC Irvine’s solid waste & recycling program. “This summer, the California Resource Recovery Association honored UC Irvine with its 2013 Zero Waste Achievement Award. This recognition by the EPA is equally gratifying.”
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          About the Food Recovery Challenge: The Food Recovery Challenge is part of the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of food and other widely used everyday items through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled and discarded. For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge, visit http://www.epa.gov/foodrecoverychallenge/.

          About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

          Media access: UC Irvine maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media at today.uci.edu/resources/experts.php. Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.