2023 All Together Green Facilities Management News On-Campus Solutions Sustainability

Revamping Recycling at the Center for the Arts


The Center for the Arts at Mason (CFA) on the Fairfax campus is proud to announce the successful revamp of its zero waste infrastructure, thanks to the support of University Sustainability's Patriot Green Fund. The initiative implemented sleek new waste and recycling stations to improve Mason’s diversion rate, aiming to reach Mason's zero waste goal of diverting 90% or more of waste from the trash.   

While digital event programs are readily available for patrons at CFA, the need for paper programs and the subsequent recycling of them still exists. Maura Glascock, Production Coordinator, recognized the potential for increased waste diversion and spearheaded the effort to enhance the zero-waste infrastructure. She applied for funding through University Sustainability’s Patriot Green Fund, a $100,000 per year sustainability fund, provided by Mason Facilities, to make Mason’s campuses more sustainable through infrastructure improvements and student research projects. In May 2023, the PGF Committee, which consists of students, staff, and faculty, approved the application and awarded $17,500 towards the acquisition of these new waste stations.    

To optimize their strategy and encourage behavioral change, CFA collaborated with University Sustainability staff members, including Colleen Regan, Zero Waste Specialist, and Amber Saxton, Program Manager - Campus Efficiency. They also sought the expertise of Kevin Brim, Supervisor for Recycling and Waste Management at Facilities Management. Together, they identified the most effective layout for recycling and trash stations, ensuring proper restrictive lid openings and other zero waste design standards were included to discourage contamination. The team also prioritized the aesthetics of the design and selected stainless-steel materials for the bins, ensuring their recyclability at the end of their long lifespan, estimated to be 20 years or more.  

As part of the installation, University Sustainability conducted a volunteer waste audit over the summer to establish a baseline contamination rate (9%) and will use this to evaluate improvements in recycling over this academic year. Colleen Regan recognizes the impact this project can have for improving waste diversion across campus.  

“CFA’s installation aligns with Facilities' current effort to improve zero waste design standards and guidelines across the University. Collocating waste streams and standardizing bins’ appearance through consistent labeling and color coding are all key design improvements for increasing the University community’s access to recycling. This PGF project provides a blueprint for implementing upgrades that support everyone’s ability to contribute to our zero-waste goal.” 
The new recycling bins have already been successfully utilized during summer orientations for the influx of new students, demonstrating their immediate impact in fostering sustainable practices. 

Learn how to dispose of your waste appropriately to make Mason even more sustainable! Your actions help the university achieve its zero-waste goal of diverting 90% (or more) of all waste items away from the trash through reuse, recycling, and composting.  

Individuals with innovative ideas to further enhance sustainability at Mason are encouraged to reach out through the Patriot Green Fund interest form.