UVM's Roadmap to Zero Waste

University of Vermont

Publication Release Date: May 4, 2020
Date Posted: May 13, 2020
Submitted by: Isabel Lisle
Content Type: Publications
Office or Department: Sustainability Office
Publisher: Isabel Lisle
Periodical Name: UVM's Roadmap to Zero Waste
Type: Undergraduate Student Research


This senior thesis seeks to provide effective strategies for enhancing Zero Waste management goals at the University of Vermont by incorporating the needs of campus stakeholders. As the global garbage problem increases, posing detrimental environmental, economic, and social challenges to the planet, the Zero Waste movement advocates for a whole system approach to human resource and consumption cycles that prevents waste at its source and encourages best disposal practices. Universities, towns, and cities around the world have created Zero Waste goals in an effort to move towards more sustainable, resilient, and environmentally efficient communities. In a case study of the University of Vermont, I evaluated 16 different campus departments and their waste streams to identify opportunities to move the University towards Zero Waste and encourage its collaborative growth across departments. Although the University is a recognized leader in sustainability initiatives, it lacks a set of coherent guidelines for effective long-term waste reduction. This thesis outlines a set of waste mitigation recommendations and strategies for each campus department to incorporate into their management policies. It takes into consideration the specific needs of the departments while recognizing that many of them deal with similar waste mitigation challenges. Several political, educational, structural, and infrastructural changes are advised to mitigate waste on campus. These changes will facilitate the practical application of the recommendations over time across various University of Vermont departments.