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UT Arlington wins award for food waste reduction

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Media Contact: Traci Peterson

News Topics: Arlington, awards, community service, environment, student life

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The Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized The University of Texas at Arlington’s efforts to reduce food waste and prevent tons of refuse from ending up in landfills each year.

Students eating

Trayless dining has helped UT Arlington reduce its food waste, earning praise from the EPA.

The EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge program gave its Award for Leadership Tuesday to UT Arlington’s Office of Sustainability. UT Arlington was one of 50 colleges and universities in the U.S. and among the first to join the Food Recovery Challenge, a food waste reduction initiative that is part of the EPA’s WasteWise program. Participants are asked to pledge to make a 5 percent reduction in food waste over five years through prevention, donation or composting.

“Approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste. It is an emerging global issue and UT Arlington recognizes the importance of reducing food waste, educating, and playing a pivotal role in transforming the lives of individuals, and communities,” said Meghna Tare, director of the UT Arlington Office of Sustainability. “Because of our efforts, we are making great progress within the institution and through partnerships with communities, businesses and government.”

The main focus of UT Arlington’s food recovery program is a successful composting effort that started in 2005. Since then, volunteers and staff have steadily increased the amount of food waste collected and composted from campus dining services and off campus coffee shops and hospitals, as well as yard waste from University grounds crews. Today, about 68,000 pounds, or 34 tons, is composted each year.

“Food waste is a widespread problem that needs local solutions,” said EPA Region 6 Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “UT Arlington has demonstrated tremendous leadership and initiative in showing the difference one organization can make.”

Other components of UT Arlington’s Food Recovery Challenge efforts include:

  • A first-of-its-kind partnership between the city of Arlington and UT Arlington to create a community garden that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to its gardeners and to local nonprofit Mission Arlington. More than 1,000 pounds of food has been donated since the garden started in 2011.
  • Trayless dining that is coordinated with the University’s food service provider, Aramark. Administrators estimate 11,500 pounds of food waste is eliminated per semester.
  • The Mavericks Give Back program collects usable items – including food- from students at the end of each semester and donates them to charities.

“At UT Arlington we believe that being a 21st Century university means taking a leading role in increasing awareness of sustainable practices and demonstrating how they can be implemented,” said John Hall, UT Arlington vice president for Administration and Campus Operations. “We are proud of the EPA’s recognition of the environmentally friendly culture being furthered by UT Arlington staff, faculty and students." 

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter. 

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.