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Sustainability 101: Arizona State University and The UPS Store Work Together to Eliminate College Move-in Waste

Arizona State UniversityArizona State University is one of the largest universities in the nation. And, according to the Princeton Review, it is also one of the greenest, with the establishment of its School of Sustainability, its aggressive program for reducing waste, and its goal of becoming carbon neutral.

The UPS Store locations on the Tempe campus serve approximately 8,200 university residents with mailbox services, package receiving, shipping, printing and everything else you would expect from The UPS Store. As you can imagine, fall is one of our busiest times. Often, incoming freshmen ship their packages to their new mailbox on campus ahead of time. We receive thousands of packages during the first weeks of school. With that many students moving in, you can only imagine how much cardboard, foam and packaging peanuts there is!

So, when ASU shared with our team their goal of reducing waste to zero tons (yes, I said zero tons!) by 2015, I saw the opportunity to support that challenge. ASU already had plans in place to station volunteers at the trash and recycling stations and to collect cardboard and foam; I volunteered to accept the packaging peanuts.

In the past, the university’s biggest challenge was educating students to recycle rather than dispose. This meant that volunteers had to hand sort most of the materials—a very time-consuming and messy task. I offered to help by printing signs and promoting our efforts through the media, on Facebook and through various associations on campus to promote to the parents and students the recycling program. We also placed stickers on all the boxes we received at our two locations, asking students to bring back empty boxes and packaging materials to The UPS Store for recycling. We even had a Hybrid Package Car on display during the check-in period to help showcase UPS’s commitment to sustainability (did you know that The UPS Store locations also offer a carbon neutral shipping option?).

I am happy to report that the results are in and we did make an impact with the help of the added communication and the extra hard work of the volunteers. We had a 41% increase in the tons of recycled materials recovered and a decrease of 19% in the refuse that was discarded over last year. We have a long way to go, but as long as we all work together we can reach this goal.

Category: Sustainability
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