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Recycling at Roosevelt University

Beyond paper, plastics and electronics

Recycling at Roosevelt has moved beyond paper, plastics and electronics. Food and packaging waste from Roosevelt’s Chicago campus is sorted, composted and then used to improve the soil at its Schaumburg Community garden. The food grown at the garden is then served in the University's dining center. This circle of use is not only sustainable, it supplements local food pantries, supporting the University’s social justice mission.

Roosevelt University composting program

The Wabash campus building has a built-in food pulping machine which literally grinds food and compostable packaging on-site into a “slurry” which is piped to a waste area. Water is then removed and sent to the Chicago Resource Center where it is composted. After 6-weeks, it is delivered back to the University to be used as mulch or fertilizer.

Testa interns Garden Harvest from the rooftop garden at RU’s Chicago Campus which netted 22 lbs. in the first month. Pictured here at RU Sustainability Interns Mary Beth Radeck and Kevin Markowski.

Roosevelt received an IL DCEO grant for recycling receptacles for each space in the Wabash buildings which is expected to divert up to 50% of its waste from landfills. Already, the residents and visitors of the building have achieved 40% diversion. Another grant application is in process for the Schaumburg campus as well.

Illinois Food Scrap Coalition The University is recognized by the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) as a Gold Partner through “demonstrating the highest level of commitment to food scrap diversion by composting both pre- and post-consumer food scrap.”

The University is always looking for new and creative ways to reuse and recycle:

  • Mattresses on campus are recycled by stripping the pillow top covers and replacing the underlayment. This not only saves mattresses from the landfill, it’s more sanitary than standard sleep systems—and less expensive, too.
  • All utensils, cups and to-go containers are fully compost-able
  • All food waste and packaging from the Wabash building are ground to a pulp and composted.

In 2012 alone, according to Independent Recycling Services, an third-party source, Roosevelt’s recycling initiatives from two out of four campus buildings:

  • saved 318 yards of waste from landfills
  • reduced 6,244 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions through recycling efforts alone
  • saved 728,480 gallons of ground- and Lake Michigan water from the sewer system 
  • recycled 212,033 lbs of aluminum, glass, paper and plastic
  • left 1,769 trees in the forest so that they may remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere

Recycling is integrated into daily operations across campuses. The following is a list of materials recycled every day in bins across campus:

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Books
  • Bottles 
  • Cans 
  • Plastics (Types 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 7)

Special recyclables can be taken to the Wabash 14th floor, Physical Resources B16 in Chicago or Receiving in Schaumburg:

  • Lightbulbs 
  • Electronics including computers, iPods, phones, printers, monitors, etc.
  • Batteries

The University is always looking for new and creative ways to reuse and recycle:

  • Mattresses on campus are recycled by stripping the pillow top covers and replacing the underlayment. This not only saves mattresses from the landfill, it’s more sanitary than standard sleep systems—and less expensive, too.

  • All utensils, cups and to-go containers are fully compost-able

  • All food waste and packaging from the Wabash building are ground to a pulp and composted.

Compost created at the University is re-used as fertilizer and mulch on rooftop and community garden plots.  Food grown on the rooftop and plots is served on-campus.  Roosevelt's nutrients, previously dumped in landfills, now completes a continuous cycle of reuse.