Our Zero-Waste Commitment

Our Zero Waste Commitment

What made Homecoming 2019 a Zero-Waste success

This year, the Alumni Relations Office in partnership with Facilities Recycling and the Office of Sustainability, along with the help of our alumni and campus community, threw Berea’s third Zero-Waste Homecoming. They amped up zero-waste efforts this year and replaced 500 printed schedules with a scannable QR code linked to an online schedule; placed name tag recycling bins around campus; and increased awareness by offering a Berea College Zero-Waste Homecoming reusable water bottle to the first 100 registrants.

HC19 Zero Waste Block Party

Berea College Office of Sustainability Waste Diversion Program Coordinator Yryskeldi Emilbek uulu ’22, left, helps event attendees sort their waste into compost, recycling and landfill bins during Block Party on the Square, Friday night during Homecoming weekend.

Since 2017, the Alumni Relations team has committed to making each alumni event a zero-waste event. The Office of Sustainability confirmed that Homecoming 2017, a multi-day zero-waste event, was the first of its kind in Kentucky. In April 2018, Alumni Relations was presented with a Zero-Waste Certified plaque from the Office of Sustainability. 

How we do it

During Homecoming week, Waste Ambassadors from Facilities Recycling and the Office of Sustainability “talked trash” with event attendees to maintain the integrity of the waste thrown into the recycling, compost and landfill bins placed at high-traffic events. An event is considered zero-waste if at least 90 percent of waste is diverted from the landfill. This is made possible by an on-site recycling center and composting location on Berea’s campus. Compostable utensils, cups and plates also are used at most every event, with more and more departments switching to only compostable disposables at their receptions each year. Sustainable best practices are already used at each event catered by Berea College Dining Services.

Homecoming 2019 results

All recycling and compost collected is weighed and incorporated into a yearly total to be compared against the amount of trash collected that goes to a landfill. This year, data was compiled from the Caramel Apple Bar, Labor Program Hot Cocoa Bar, Check-in/Registration (both Friday and Saturday), Block Party on the Square, Agriculture and Natural Resources Breakfast, Technology and Applied Design Breakfast, Mountaineer Basketball Players and Supporters Awards Brunch and BereaFEST. A total of 228 pounds of compost was collected, 12 pounds of recycling and 11 pounds of trash for a 91 percent diversion rate.

Sustainability coordinator Joan Pauly, right, presents a Zero-Waste Certified plaque to the Alumni Relations team in April 2018. Pictured from left is Caroline Arthur '16, Kristin Dalessio '06, Jackie Collier '80, Lisa Colletti-Jones and Crystal Wylie '05

What does it mean to host a Zero-Waste event?

We define Zero Waste as diverting 90% of waste from the landfill. We are able to do that at Berea College by having an on-site recycling center and an on-site composting location.

–  All the recycling and compost we collect is weighed and incorporated into a yearly total to be compared against the amount of trash collected that goes to a landfill. Last year, we came close to a 60% diversion rate, meaning we were able to recycle or compost 60% of the waste produced by all of campus. Our goal is to reach 90% diversion for all of campus, and making Zero-Waste events the norm will greatly help to achieve this goal.

–  At events we have Recycling, Compost, and Landfill bins with signage that shows what can be accepted in each category.

–  We have Waste Ambassadors from the Recycling Center and the Office of Sustainability who “Talk Trash” with event attendees: that is, they are there to maintain the integrity of the compost and recycling, since we are held to high standards in those categories.

–  For compost especially, we have Certified Organic standards at the Greenhouses, which is where the compost is taken. Plates, cups, and napkins that will break down in that compost have to be specially ordered.

LEARN MORE about our sustainability efforts at Berea College.

Did you

In 2014, Berea College hosted Kentucky’s first carbon-neutral basketball game. The carbon footprint of the basketball game was calculated based on the electricity used at the gymnasium during the game and the transportation of the opposing team to Berea’s facilities. Read more…