Med center cuts down on waste at campus BBQ

For the past three years, the UNMC Office of Sustainability has strived to make the annual BBQ event zero waste, which means at least 90% of waste by weight is diverted from the landfill.

While the event didn’t reach the 90% goal, the Office of Sustainability was able to save almost 200 pounds from going to the landfill, while also engaging, educating and raising awareness among the med center community about sustainability efforts on campus that directly contribute to the med center’s net zero waste and engagement goals.

On Aug. 23, the campus held the #WeAreUNMC BBQ, where students, staff and faculty could mingle, learn about various groups and enjoy a meal together.

To make this event more sustainable, the Office of Sustainability set up waste stations that included compost, recycling and Hefty Orange bags, along with traditional landfill waste. With the help of volunteers, attendees were instructed on how to correctly sort their waste at the stations.

After the event, the aggregated waste from each station was weighed and recorded. In all, 74% of all waste material was diverted from the landfill, a substantial increase from the 65% diverted in 2022.

The breakdown of waste streams was:

  • Compost: 93 pounds
  • Recycling: 41.7 pounds
  • Cardboard: 32.7 pounds
  • Hefty Renew Bag: 14.1 pounds
  • Landfill: 63.1 pounds

Julie Sommer, research facilities planner and a LiveGreen ambassador who volunteered at the BBQ, said: “I look forward to the UNMC Welcome BBQ every year. Volunteering to help sort waste is a great way to meet people and educate about sustainability on campus. The effort to make this a zero waste event is appreciated by many students and staff.”

Another volunteer, Emily Wiley, office associate for the medical laboratory science program, also had a great experience: “As someone who actively recycles, uses orange bags and composts at home, it was great to assist at this event and help to educate those who were in attendance. I hope that everyone learned something new or was inspired by what they saw to do more in their own home.”

Anyone interested in getting involved in sustainable events can sign up to be a LiveGreen Ambassador, send ideas for events that could go zero waste or sign up to volunteer for this event next year. With questions, email Jerrod Bley.

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