Recycling, Recycled Products Procurement, and Waste Reduction


Recycling is an important waste management activity that conserves natural resources and reduces waste disposal costs. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign implemented the University Recycling Program in February 1989 for both environmental and economic considerations. The program has been expanded into a Recycling and Materials Reduction Program (RMRP) to reflect a unified approach to campus waste management. The RMRP is assigned to the waste management department of Facilities & Services.


The following policy governs recycling and procurement practices for the Urbana-Champaign campus, as defined in the University’s Climate Action Plan, iCAP.


The University’s Climate Action Plan, iCAP, under the direction and purview of the Office of the Chancellor.


The items below describe the processes involved in the University’s Recycling and Materials Reduction Program.

  1. RECYCLINGThe University supports the development and implementation of recycling collection for all campus units by:
    1. Encouraging all units (including residential facilities, departments, schools, colleges, laboratories, and offices) to develop programs for recycling. These programs may include paper and paper products, cans, plastic, and food wastes.
    2. Educating faculty, staff, and students about recycling. University employees and students are expected to participate in and support all aspects of the RMRP.
    3. Collecting and reviewing recycling operational data. Because individual units may require various recycling strategies, operational data should establish the most acceptable and effective recycling program for each campus unit. After a recycling program is instituted in a unit, the program should be periodically reevaluated to determine its effectiveness in removing materials from the waste stream and acceptability to the employees and students in the unit.
  2. PROCUREMENT OF PRODUCTS MADE WITH RECYCLED MATERIALSUniversity departments and units should purchase products with recycled material content whenever cost, specifications, standards, and availability are comparable to products without recycled content. The University will identify those items that are frequently purchased for which recycled-content items can be substituted. Additional preference will be given to the specification of items with the highest percentage content of recycled material.Examples of products and materials covered include, but are not limited to: office supplies, paper products, building materials, lubricants of all types, reprocessed chemicals, remanufactured parts, landscape products (yard waste), and materials used in pavement construction projects. The use of recycled materials is also encouraged when orders are placed for printed goods (i.e. brochures, catalogs, books, letterheads, business cards, etc). In addition, the procurement guidelines seek to eliminate the purchase of non-recyclable materials when suitable substitutes exist.

    To implement this, the campus and the Purchasing Division will:

    1. Identify any University needs that exist for equipment, supplies, and services for which recycled and/or recyclable products might be available.
      1. By reviewing prior and current requests for equipment, supplies, and services to determine the present usage of recycled and/or recyclable products.
      2. By examining future needs to determine the extent to which they might involve requests for equipment, supplies, and services that might be met by the procurement of recycled and/or recyclable products.
    2. Actively and diligently strive to identify vendors that can competitively supply recycled products.
      1. By reviewing bid responses to determine the availability of commodities manufactured with recycled content.
      2. By utilizing commercial directories and federal, state, and local sources of information to identify marketed products that are manufactured using recycled materials.
    3. Make extra efforts to communicate to campus users the opportunities to meet requirements through the procurement of recycled and/or recyclable products, recognizing that the primary goal of purchasing such products is to reduce waste.
      1. By reviewing specifications and intended product usage to determine if recycled products are available that will competitively and adequately meet identified needs and comply with established state and campus policies and procedures.
      2. By supporting the campus in the identification of recycled products for evaluation and testing to determine their suitability for campus use.
      3. By working with the campus to develop and publish a campus recycled products list; only products from that list will be purchased unless substantial written justification can be made for a non-recycled product.
      4. By coordinating procurement of recycled products with campus users to ensure satisfactory performance, recognizing that if recycled products do not perform satisfactorily, they become waste.
  3. WASTE REDUCTIONThe first priority of waste management is volume reduction at the source, reducing the original consumption of material. Using less material will reduce material expenses and waste disposal costs and will help diminish the solid waste problem. Campus waste reduction can be effected by the application of a few simple guidelines.
    1. Paper and paper products represent the largest portion of the campus waste stream. Methods of reducing waste are:
      1. Encouraging two-sided copying and printing. All copying and printing requirements should be two-sided by default. Single-sided copying should be specifically requested.
      2. Limiting printing needs to the actual requirements for distribution. Overruns should be eliminated. Units should routinely review the distribution lists of reports and limit them to essential persons. Campus mailing lists should be continually updated to eliminate unnecessary mailings. Bulletins and brochures can often be posted in a prominent location or circulated within the unit, rather than distributed to individuals.
    2. Use reusable products if at all possible. Examples are durable coffee mugs and drinking cups, metal silverware, rechargeable batteries, and campus mail envelopes.
    3. Purchase products that have a long useful life. By design, some items have greater reliability or are easier to repair than other similar items.
    4. Whenever possible, control the packaging of purchased material. For example, units that buy in bulk quantities often can reduce packaging waste.


More information on sustainable practices (including purchases) and recycling can be found in the University’s Climate Action Plan, iCAP. Additional questions or requests for information can be directed to the Office of Sustainability, (217) 333-4178, or the Office of the Chancellor, (217) 333-6290.