Myriad products are consumed by the UNCG campus, and disposal of these materials has financial, social, and environmental costs, including the production of GHGs (methane) from landfilled waste decomposition. GHG audits for FY 2008-09 – FY 2011-12 reveal that the solid waste generated by the University contributes an average of 404 mtCO2e. Though not currently quantifiable, emissions emanate from the “embodied energy” contained in every product the university purchases. Embodied energy is the energy expended to extract resources, then manufacture, transport, and dispose of the resultant products.
A comprehensive materials-management program, including an environmentally preferred purchasing policy, campus community education, and expanded recycling will reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills in the short term, as well as reduce emissions from decomposition and embodied energy. The long term goal for materials management in the Climate Action Plan is that UNCG become a zero-waste campus.