Article By: Angela Bray
Suffolk’s efforts to reduce waste and maximize sustainability were recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a Gold Achievement Award for the Employee Education Program.
The award is from the EPA’s WasteWise program, and recognized Suffolk’s success with an educational and promotional campaign to create awareness about waste prevention and recycling on campus.
Suffolk first applied a few years ago to the WasteWise program, which is a voluntary waste reduction program where members are eligible to earn WasteWise awards.
The Gold Achievement Award focuses on employee education and outreach. To qualify, partners are required to submit annual forms reporting details such as waste reduction tonnage, associated cost savings, and efforts to promote the WasteWise program.
“We’re headed in the right direction and we are making more progress,” said Erica Mattison, Campus Sustainability Coordinator. “We involve employees in a variety of ways. A few departments have green teams and I meet with them to implement steps.” Some of these steps include setting up scrap paper trays to make sure both sides of each sheet is used, printing fewer catalogues and documents, making them available online instead, and substituting travel mugs for disposable plastic cups.
“We will often have a green column in SUN to inform everyone on recent achievements, efforts, and conservation tips,” said Mattison. “It’s a great outreach method that goes to all employees.” SUN is Suffolk University’s newsletter focusing on news relevant to university employees.
In addition to e-mails and newsletters, informational sessions and workshops are offered to educate Suffolk employees on both short and long-term decision making.
Sustainability Committee members work with students to further campus environmental initiatives. Since this time last year, Suffolk has reduced trash input by 30 percent and increased the recycling rate by ten percent.
“I’m hugely impressed with the university’s sustainability efforts,” said Greg Gatlin, Director of Public Affairs. “There are numerous projects going on around campus and efforts to be more green all of the time.”
Awareness updates are sent to faculty and staff in each department. Initiatives are offered to everyone, including students, such as recycling coupons and “spot-a-mug” reward vouchers for those using travel mugs.
“It’s very exciting when work receives recognition,” said Mattison. “It is a testimony of what we have been trying to do the past few years.”
“Erica does a terrific job,” said Gatlin. “There has been a lot of work to communicate the benefits of sustainability in the entire Suffolk community. It is very impressive.”