By: Liz Trudel, News Editor
USM’s Waste Minimization Policy, which was enacted by the President’s Council on Climate Neutrality on Nov.13, 2012, states that USM is committed to reducing waste and increasing efficiency in all aspects of campus operation.
In order to help achieve the goals outlined in this policy, USM’s Office of Sustainability recently launched an “Online Swap” community to be utilized by campus departments.
The “Online Swap” is a virtual forum board that can be found in the USM Portal. Department members can upload items to the board that they no longer have use for. They can also seek items that they need.
This new program, which was implemented by the IT Department, serves as USM’s primary mechanism for repurposing items that still hold value between different departments across USM campuses.
The goal of the program is to help USM reduce waste, while helping University departments and students save money.
The university-owned items that are swapped for university use are referred to by the updated Policy on University of Southern Maine Surplus & Moving Item, as “surplus items.”
The updated policy states that small items that fail to find a new home in the “Online Swap” community will be placed on Free Shelves that are located in Bailey, Woodbury, and Glickman. The items on these shelves are free for students, staff and faculty to take for personal use. Some examples of free items that may be available for grabs are small items such as school supplies, computer monitors, and keyboards.
The Policy on University of Southern Maine Surplus & Moving Items defines “surplus” as, “items that departments want to dispose of that are still usable and that were purchased with university funds or grants.” Items that are purchased with USM monies are USM property, and therefore, the disposal of these items is subject to the policy and departments must abide by the “surplus item hierarchy.”
The “surplus hierarchy” begins with items that fall under the “keep” category. It continues in descending order with the categories: “swap/sell,” “donate,” “scrap” and “trash.”
“Keep” is the highest level of the “surplus hierarchy.” At this level, department members are advised to keep and to utilize the items that they have as long as those items are still functionable.
The second level on the “surplus hierarchy” is the “swap” level. If departments have items that they no longer utilize, they fall into this category. “Swap” items should be uploaded into the newly implemented portal so that the items can be repurposed in a different department on campus where they are needed.
The third category is “sell/donate.” At this level, departments should send out or post the unwanted/unneeded items for sale or should donate the items to private parties.
The final level of the hierarchy is “scrap.” At the “scrap” level, departments should sell the items for scrap value. This should be the final resort and should only be done if the item is no longer functionable.
The goals of the Waste Minimization implementation, as stated in the policy, are “to reduce overall waste across all three campuses: Portland, Gorham and Lewiston, to increase the amount and quality of single stream recyclables collected on all three campuses, to discover new opportunities for waste reduction including environmentally preferred purchasing and to develop innovative handling methods and new outlets for materials.”
According to USM’s Waste Minimization Goals, USM’s Campus Sustainability Strategic Plan has set goals to increase waste diversion to 70 percent by 2020, as well as to improve efficiency of waste operations and reduce total waste creation across all three campuses by 25 percent by 2025.