University of Ottawa and Call2Recycle: Working together for a Greener Campus
The University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual (English-French) university in the world. Known for its prestigious health, sciences and humanities programs, and located at the heart of Canada’s capital, the University of Ottawa is a unique place to learn, grow and excel. With more than 450 programs in 10 faculties, over 40,000 students, 5,000 employees and 180,000 alumni, the University is a major academic hub and economic force in the National Capital Region.
Sustainability Objectives & Challenges
The University of Ottawa looks at the world through the lens of sustainability. The mission of the Office of Campus Sustainability is to promote the values of sustainable development among staff, students and members of the broader community.
The department strives to have sustainability integrated into daily life on campus in as many ways as possible, big and small — from taking notes on scrap paper to designing more energy-efficient campus facilities. The objectives are clear: the University endeavors to reduce its impact on the environment and this often results in significant cost savings to the University and its students.
The Solution: Recycle, Reduce and Reuse
The Office of Campus Sustainability acts as a hub for numerous sustainability related programs on campus. As part of its Waste Management program, they have introduced 20 recycling programs to keep waste from ending up in landfills where it could harm the environment. In addition, they hold many Sustainability events such as RecycleMania, Green Week, and Earth Hour to encourage and incent students and staff to recycle, and make it convenient for them.
In 2010, the University of Ottawa selected the Call2Recycle program, to help manage the disposal of used batteries and cellphones. The Call2Recycle program is operated by the not for profit organization, Call2Recycle Inc., and is funded by product manufacturers and retailers committed to environmentally–sound recycling of their batteries. After collecting and sorting according to chemistry, the batteries are processed, and turned into new batteries, stainless steel products or other products, and cellphones are recycled, refurbished or resold.
The program aims at keeping batteries and cellphones out of landfills, and to reduce the need to harvest natural resources by reusing the valuable materials found in used batteries and cellphones.
Every year, students and staff go through thousands of batteries found in electronic devices, laptops, power tools, game consoles, and other items used on Campuses and Residences, for a multitude of purposes.
Batteries contain hazardous materials and if dumped or disposed of incorrectly, the harmful elements could find their way into our water sources, making it dangerous for life, and adding to the pollution.To ensure that students and staff have easy access to the recycling programs, there are over 150 recycling stations located on University of Ottawa campuses. There is a white battery-recycling bin near designated recycling stations or attached to the counter where batteries can easily be dropped off for recycling.
The Call2Recycle program is extremely easy to adopt: the efficient staff ensures that boxes are collected and shipped when full at no cost and the customer service team is always accessible to help whenever needed. Most importantly, through participation in this program, the University is able to achieve their sustainability objectives, while making dumping a battery or a cellphone a thing of the past.
The University has made great progress towards its waste reduction goals: in 2014-2015, a diversion rate of 61% was achieved; which is beyond the target waste diversion rate of 60% the province of Ontario sets out for the IC&I sector.
The University set itself a challenging target of becoming a zero waste to landfill campus which means achieving a waste diversion rate of 95% (the goal being by 2020).
At the Office of Campus Sustainability, they measure the impacts of every project embarked upon. The impacts of the programs are clearly published in various reports yearly and in an annual report at the end of each year to judge the overall impacts of their programs.
“Working closely with Call2Recycle is one more step towards more sustainable practices into daily campus life in our journey to achieve a zero-waste to landfill campus,” said Brigitte Morin, Waste Diversion Coordinator at the University of Ottawa.
The University has plans to work on some upcoming battery collection initiatives with Call2Recycle to further motivate and incentivize students to keep those batteries away from Ottawa landfills.