Trash and waste generation from student, academic, research and operations activities can impact the land if not managed properly.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the federal law administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the safe management and cleanup of solid and hazardous waste, and programs that encourage source reduction and beneficial reuse. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) oversees the federal requirements and the Waste Management Act of 1980, which provides a foundation and framework for managing solid waste in Minnesota, including adopting the federal standards, and directing how mixed municipal solid waste (garbage), construction and demolition debris, and industrial solid waste are managed. Laws and rules for the management of animal waste is administered by the MPCA and Minnesota counties.
Trash and waste generation from student, academic, research and operations activities are managed at the University to prevent pollution of the air, land and water. On University sites, waste is transported to waste management facilities that sort and dispose of waste according to federal and state regulations.
Waste can generally be divided into categories based on regulatory requirements:
- Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), more commonly known as trash or garbage, consists of everyday items we use and then throw away, such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. MSW at the University is collected by University Facilities Management and either disposed or burned for energy recovery at an MPCA-permitted solid waste landfill.
- Composted/Yard Waste: Landcare and animal care operations generate compostable materials for reuse as soil amendments and fertilizer.
- Composting yard waste and other organic materials may be subject to solid waste rules. There is a small yard waste facility on the St Paul campus and at the Landscape Arboretum for composting yard waste. Composted materials are reused as soil amendments on campus.
- Composting of food waste from University facilities is underway in some locations; food-based materials are composted off site by a vendor for nutrient reuse.
- Recyclable/Reused Waste is collected and managed by University Waste Recovery Services and includes a wide range of reuse and recycling ventures to reduce the MSW waste stream.
- Hazardous components, such as lamps, batteries, refrigerants and chemical wastes are diverted from MSW to the University Regulated Waste Program.
- Reusable items are shipped directly to the University Reuse Center for reuse within the University and for sale to individuals. Reusuable items in MSW are removed and diverted to this program.
- Chemical/Hazardous Waste is collected from University locations system-wide and transported to the UMTC campus for sorting, consolidation and transportation to an appropriate waste management facility. Regulated waste includes any chemical or hazardous waste that is not allowed to be thrown in the trash or sewered. To schedule a pickup or learn more, visit the Regulated Waste page.
- The Hazardous Materials Program assesses, removes and manages potentially hazardous materials, such as lead, mercury and asbestos from University properties.