EPA Celebrates America Recycles Week at UMASS Dartmouth
DARTMOUTH, MA – Dennis Deziel, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) New England office, was in Dartmouth, Mass. today to promote waste reduction and celebrate America Recycles Week. The event occurred at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, which earlier this year was awarded by EPA as the "College/University Partner of the Year" for the 2018 national WasteWise awards.
"As EPA is celebrating America Recycles Week, we are happy to highlight UMASS Dartmouth's dining services team for their ongoing efforts to reduce food waste and to boost sustainability," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "The innovation and leadership exhibited by this team can be a model for many other food service businesses who are seeking to reduce waste, improve profitability and help protect our environment."
The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth's (UMASS Dartmouth) Dining Services was recognized for a series of activities and achievements to increase the institution's sustainability efforts. In 2017, Dining Services led a team of interested students, the Facilities Team, and the Campus Sustainability Team to achieve success in reducing food waste.
EPA's WasteWise program encourages organizations and businesses to achieve sustainability in their practices and to reduce select industrial wastes. Participants in the program work to prevent and divert waste that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills or incinerated. Every year EPA recognizes WasteWise partners in various categories who report the best overall improvement in waste prevention and recycling activities when compared to the previous year.
"Working collaboratively with students and with other departments within the University has helped us to make successful strides in our sustainability achievements on campus," said Steven O'Riley, Chartwells Dining, Resident District Manager, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
The UMASS Dartmouth Dining Services team utilizes EPA's "Food Recovery Hierarchy" in its effort to reduce food waste. The team begins with the proper management of purchasing and food production to minimize leftovers. The Dining Services also donates unsold, prepared packaged foods weekly during the school year to local liturgical ministries serving the homeless. In 2017, Dining Services unveiled a new program called Meals with Dignity, in which student volunteers work with the chef to package meals made with wholesome, leftover food from the dining hall on a biweekly basis and to deliver meals to the on-campus food pantry. The recipients of the surplus food are very enthusiastic about the two efforts, which have significantly helped fight local food insecurity. The donation programs are the most impactful efforts on campus, as they are the most local.
Nationwide, the efforts by UMASS Dartmouth and the other nine national awardees collectively prevented and diverted over 356,000 tons of waste from entering landfills and saved the organizations over $19.6 million in avoided landfill fees.
The WasteWise program is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management efforts that promote the use and reuse of materials more productively over their entire life cycles. All U.S. businesses, governments and non-profit organizations can join WasteWise as a partner, an endorser, or both. Partners demonstrate how they reduce waste, practice environmental stewardship and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste-handling processes. Endorsers promote enrollment in WasteWise as part of a comprehensive approach to help their stakeholders realize the economic benefits to reducing waste.
More information on EPA Wastewise program: https://www.epa.gov/smm/wastewise.