Frequently Asked Questions


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Waste and Recycling at UMD:

By the end of the 2014-2015 academic year, staff and faculty in individual offices will be in charge of sorting trashandrecycling into central containers within an office suite or area.  Individual offices will no longer be serviced for trash and recycling. Each office will have their own mini-trash bin to manage themselves. The mini-trash bins are actually re-purposed food containers, that were washed/dried for Custodial Services by UMD Dining Services.

The changes in office waste/recycling services will allow Custodial Services more time to prioritize public and student spaces on campus, including adding recycling bins in many classrooms that previously did not previously have recycling.

The overall goal of this operational change is to reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill and increase recycling rates. The most immediate change will be eliminating hundreds of thousands of plastic bags that used to line office trash bins from going to the landfill (and a little over $5,000 in purchasing costs!)

Read more about this switch to create Less Waste.

Email recycling@d.umn.edu if you want to get started with your mini trash-bin today!

No.  Lab spaces are considered student, academic spaces and will remain at the same (or have greater) levels of service, including both recycling and trash removal.   

Your mini-bin is a fairly small container, and can be easily washed at any sink on campus.  However, upon request, Custodial Services can clean these for you.  A good rule of thumb for cleaning these would be rinsing them once per month.

In 2010, the campus recycling rate was 42%, but it rose to 50%  in 2013.  Efforts to both increase recycling and add organics recycling by placing compost bins around campus probably helped increase this landfill diversion rate.

  • Recycling at UMD is pretty easy: everything that can be recycled can be co-mignled.  That includes aluminum cans, glass or plastic bottles newspaper, magazines, and paper.  All can be co-mingled.  (Note: In some areas, there is a separate Paper bin, to reduce cleaning tasks.)
  • Food waste: All food waste (even meat!) can be placed into compost bins around campus, along with compostable plates, spoons, forks, and cups provided by UMD Dining.
  • Corrugated cardboard: place near doors of offices or near recycling bins (not in) for custodial staff to pick up.
  • Film plastic (shopping bags, bread bags, non-crinkly plastic wrap) can be recycled at the bin in front ofUMD Stores (And yes, you can bring in any/all of your clean plastic bags from home to recycle!)
  • For hazardous waste questions (batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, refrigerants, lab waste) contactEnvironmental Health and Safety Office.  Hazardous waste recycling quantities from 2008 include: Electronics – 67,509 lbs Lead acid Batteries – 3,597 lbs Oil – 563 gal Fluorescent Lamps – 15,826 lamps Lithium Batteries – 22 lbs Alkaline Batteries – 473 lbs X-ray film – 220 lbs

  • Spiral-bound notebooks with paper/cardboard covers: These can go into Paper recycling.  (No need to remove spiral binding or staples.)
  • Spiral notebooks with vinyl/plastic covers: First, tear off the vinyl/plastic cover and throw it in the trash. The rest of the notebook can go into Paper recycling.
  • Plastic/vinyl 3-ring binders:  Three-ring binders can be re-used, so please offer up as a donation to another department on campus or to a local charity.  However, if binders are broken or unusable, they are unfortunately trash.  These have multiple commodities together (aluminum, plastic, metal screws, etc.), so they should be disposed of in the trash.

Food waste is recycled from the Dining Center, via a partnership with the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD). The food waste from the DC is turned into compost and sold through WLSSD’s Garden Green program. Food waste from the Food Court is not separated for composting. Recently, many catered events at UMD have provided composting bins, but contamination of the compost by trash (individual ketchup packet wrappers, for example) can be a problem. Ask for composting when you plan your next event.

New bins for composting were placed in the Food Court in Fall 2014, and most items are compostable including plates, napkins, coffee cups, sub wrappers, utinsels, and food waste.  The biggest exceptions include a foam oval plate at Taste of Italia (used for heavy sauce dishes) and Coca Cola cups, lids, and straws (these are all trash).  UMD Dining has not found a compostable straw, lid, and cup or heavy plate for Taste of Italia that meets their needs and the customer demand.
Sorting your food waste and other compostable items is a great way to reduce waste and landfill methane emissions!

Energy Use at UMD:

For the 2010-2011 fiscal year, a total of $350,000 was budgeted to upgrade buildings for energy efficiency.Ideas from students, faculty, and staff are always welcome.

Conserving electricity and natural gas use saves the university money on utility bills. It also reduces carbon emissions; as a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, UMD has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

No. UMD has been working on improving energy efficiency for many years by upgrading lighting, improving steam distribution systems, replacing windows and rooftops, and installing efficient heating, cooling, and air ventilation systems. However, there is a lot more work to do, and many buildings at UMD could be upgraded for ventilation and building controls to save energy.

A majority of the electricity that the UMD uses is produced by coal and provided by Minnesota Power. Natural gas is used to heat the campus from the Lund Heating Plant.

About five percent of Minnesota Power’s fuel mix comes from non-hydroelectric renewable resources* and less than one percent of the total energy used on campus is produced by the solar arrays on the Bagley Classroom and atop Malosky Stadium.
*Renewable energy from Minnesota Power, including hydroelectricity, totals over ten percent. For more information, visit the EPA’s web pages on Hydroelectricity and Non-Hydroelectric Renewable Energy.

Solar photovoltaic arrays are present on campus already, but solar thermal, biomass, geothermal have all been (and will continue to be) considered.  Smaller scale or building-mounted wind turbines might also be used as demonstration or research projects.

Local wind studies have shown that the north shore of Lake Superior can support some community wind projects. However, wind studies on the UMD campus shows that we do not have wind speeds to sustain a large turbine. Smaller or building-mounted turbines may be more appropriate installations on campus in the future to provide opportunities for demonstration and research, including at the UMD Farm.

Solar panels are a great source of renewable energy, but they are also quite expensive. The panels at UMD (Malosky Stadium and Bagley Outdoor Classroom) are tied into the electricity grid and provide some clean power for our campus, but it is less than 1% of our electricity needs. Linking renewable energy demonstrations to academics and research is a great way to add value to UMD, but it would be economically unwise to invest in more solar panels before we upgraded buildings to be more energy efficient first. Energy efficiency and conservation are the biggest results for each dollar spent on energy.

Research buildings with laboratories: Swenson Science Building, Chemistry Building, School of Medicine, andLife Science Building – all have energy intensive equipment and a high frequency of air changes for safety.

Fume hoods account for a lot of energy use on campus- the estimated operating costs vary from around $1,500 to $5,000 per fume hood each year. The fan on a fume hood uses some energy, but the larger impact is that fume hoods bring in fresh air from the outside, which has to be heated or cooled. Many fume hoods are “variable air volume” systems, which means that the speed of the air circulating into the hood remains constant, but the volume of air cycled depends on the size of the sash opening. The larger the fume hood opening, the larger the volume of air circulated through the hood, and the more energy it uses. Closing the sash saves!

There are many opportunities for campus members to help conser