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George Washington University hits roadblocks en route to zero waste

George Washington University hits roadblocks en route to zero waste

George Washington University has missed two deadlines for reaching goals that would make it a zero-waste college, according to the GW Hatchett, delaying implementation of the school’s far-reaching sustainability plan.

The university, located in northwest Washington, D.C., has not yet started to compost on a large scale nor has it created a promised website for its furniture recycling program. Both projects were slated to start a year ago.

But flexible implementation dates are part of the zero waste process, according to some sustainability experts. Schools often change dates in order to implement programs that will have the largest short-term environmental impacts.

Or, as is the case with GWU, sometimes other factors play a part in program delays. For example, GWU hasn’t been able to launch a composting program for students in the Foggy Bottom historic district because Washington has been “facing significant infrastructure challenges for compost collection” after one of the city’s two main compost sites closed, according to Meghan Chapple, director of GWU’s sustainability office.

The university implemented an overarching sustainability plan in 2012, which focused on eliminating food waste, cutting carbon emissions and reducing water use. The school has a greater goal of producing zero waste and has hired two staff members focused on waste reduction.

GWU has not set a date for reaching its zero waste goal since, as been demonstrated, programs needed to meet that goal will require coordination among multiple departments.

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