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Countywide Recycling Office Honors ‘Wipe Out Waste’ Efforts

Caitlin Reilly '17 and Tina Yuan '18 work in the college compost facility, blending plant mulch with food waste in an anaerobic digester to create fertilizer for campus flora.
Tina Yuan '18 and Caitlin Reilly '17 work in the college compost facility, blending plant mulch with food waste in an anaerobic digester to create fertilizer for campus flora.

Mecklenburg County has declared that trash is well treated at Davidson College, and presented the college its annual "Wipe Out Waste" award.

The award recognizes county businesses that have demonstrated a commitment to building a stronger community through waste reduction and recycling measures. It was presented to Davidson staff directors Barbara Benson and Yancey Fouché at a luncheon downtown on Thursday. Other winners included UniFirst uniform service and Opera Carolina, whose opera gowns designed from used programs were recently featured at New York Fashion Week.

"This award recognizes a collective effort," said Fouché, the college's director of sustainability. "Barbara Benson and her building services team carry out a thoughtful and comprehensive waste management program. Charles Jolly in grounds, Dee Phillips and her dining staff, Theresa Allen at The Farm, and many students collaborate with a spirit of innovation that extends our educational mission."

Davidson's award application noted that the college recycled about 82 tons of the 661 tons of waste generated on campus in a year.

"The college embraces the philosophy of prevention, reuse, recycling, composting and alternative energies as the preferred means of waste management," Fouché said.

She listed some of the many ways the college keeps material out of the landfill:

  • The "Ditch and Dash" program at the end of the school year allows students to direct unwanted items to local social service agencies.
  • Student employees work with campus staff to compost food waste and wood mulch. The end product is used as fertilizer for campus landscaping.
  • Davidson's campus-wide print management system requires students and faculty to swipe their ID card at the printer before it will release their print jobs. The program has reduced paper use by 25 percent.
  • Every year, the Sustainability Office offers students direct opportunities to engage real-world applications through the residential Sustainability Cooperative, project-based work study, the summer community-based Sustainability Scholars program and a Student Leadership Circle for officers of relevant campus organizations.
  • Cooks at Vail Commons dining hall make most meals from scratch, which reduces the use of packaging and packaged materials. Food is also sourced locally when possible, including from the three-acre Farm at Davidson College.
  • The dining staff reduces waste by using 100-percent recycled paper napkins, and places napkins on the dining tables in the Vail Commons dining hall.
  • The college partners with US Foods for oil pick up so that it may be reused as bio-diesel fuel.
  • Eating houses are required to use compostable cups for parties.
  • A handful of intercollegiate athletic contests are deemed "Zero Waste" games. Student volunteers serve as "Trash Goalies," helping fans put their waste products in the proper bins, and talking with them about Davidson's sustainability initiatives.

2016 Wipe Out Waste Ambassador Davidson College

The Wipe Out the Waste Award not only recognized Davidson's successes, but also brought together campus stakeholders and connected them with Mecklenburg County partners who are leading in innovative waste reduction practices. Newly adopted and planned efforts that will support continuous improvement include recycling of electronics waste, expanding the compost program to capture food waste from Patterson Court eating houses, and a student waste audit.