Aug. 27, 2020

Changes coming to deskside trash and recycling program at main campus, Spyhill and Foothills

Faculty and staff responsible for emptying their own deskside recycling and trash bins starting in September

As part of the University of Calgary’s efforts to become a zero-waste community, all faculty and staff members are now responsible for emptying their own deskside trash and recycling bins. Going forward, caretakers will only service our centralized four-stream sorting stations that were procured and installed in 2019 in preparation for this change.

This change is part of UCalgary’s new deskside trash and recycling program to properly sort and divert campus waste, while empowering our campus community to be cognizant of the amount of waste we produce. The following changes will commence September 2020 and apply to UCalgary’s main campus, as well as Spyhill and Foothills campuses.

  • Photo above: Starting fall 2020faculty and staff will be required to empty their own deskside bins at the nearest four-stream sorting stations. Photo by Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary

In 2019-20, the UCalgary community diverted 49 per cent of the waste produced on campus from landfill — a significant step toward being a zero waste community. The new deskside trash and recycling program will help our campus community to continue increasing diversion rates of  compostable and recyclable materials from landfill.

What’s changing?

You can keep using your current deskside bins, but they will no longer be emptied by our caretaking staff. Instead, faculty and staff are required to empty their own deskside bins at the nearest four-stream sorting stations. In doing so, we all take responsibility for sorting our own waste, and ensuring trash and recyclable materials are properly diverted. Please continue to put compostable materials in designated four-stream waste bins.

Similar programs have been implemented in other institutions, and the action of people taking ownership of their own waste and self-sorting has helped increase education about waste diversion.

Not sure what item goes where in the four-stream sorting stations? Learn more now.

Will my existing deskside bins be removed?

There are currently no plans to remove existing bins unless a specific request is made for one to be removed. However, if you don’t have a recycling bin, we encourage you to exchange your trash bin with a recycling bin, as the majority of the waste we produce at our desks is mixed recyclables. You can do so by contacting Facilities Customer Care by phone at 403-220-7555, email, or make a work request through ARCHIBUS.

I am interested in helping my office become more sustainable. Are their resources available to me? How can I get involved?

UCalgary’s Sustainable Events and Offices Programs provide simple tools and resources to help students, faculty and staff take action to make our workplaces more inclusive, environmentally conscious, and socially responsible.

The Sustainable Offices Program simplifies sustainable decision-making in the workplace. Participating offices work in teams to complete checklists and earn badges. All students, faculty and staff who work in an office are welcome to take part.

In addition, this program offers us an opportunity to manage our financial resources responsibly and to minimize our campus community’s impact on the environment. Questions? Contact UCalgary’s Sustainability Resource Centre.

What do I do with my compostable, recyclable and trash (landfill) waste?

If you have recyclables, compost or trash, please take it to a nearby four-stream sorting station to prevent the possibility of odour or pests; four-stream sorting stations are serviced daily.

What if I have to empty my deskside bins often?

If you find yourself emptying your bins often, there are ways you can decrease your waste, including:

  • Reducing how often you print documents
  • Avoiding the purchase of products or food that come in non-recyclable or non-compostable packaging
  • Using re-usable cutlery and plates when possible

What if there are no four-stream waste bins near my work area?

While we have tried to place four-stream sorting stations in most hallways and common high-traffic areas, there might still be places on campus that are underserved. If this is the case, please contact Facilities Customer Care by phone at 403-220-7555, email, or make a work request through ARCHIBUS. We will then review the need and viability for a four-stream sorting station in your area.

The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to be a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability. Learn more about UCalgary’s leadership in sustainability.