USD Aims for Zero During Earth Week

The University of San Diego is aiming for zero, zero waste that is.

As part of Earth Week, USD will announce plans to become a zero waste campus at a celebration on Tuesday, April 23. The event takes place from 12: 00 to 2 p.m. in front of USD’s Student Life Pavilion (program begins at 12:35 p.m.). San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria and USD President Mary Lyons will participate in the campus-wide event that also includes food, music, games and environmentally friendly vendors.

Through efforts to recycle paper, cardboard, plastic, oil, old furniture, greenery and electronic waste, USD is now recycling or diverting about 60 percent of its waste stream from landfills, said Michael Catanzaro, director of Sustainability at USD. “The next step is to get as close as we can to eliminating between 90 to 100 percent of our waste by expanding recycling even further, joining the city’s composting services and creating a new program to redistribute excess food from campus dining and catering. This is a very ambitious goal but one I know we can achieve. Sustainability is an integral component of living out our values as a Catholic university and part of our commitment to social entrepreneurship as an Ashoka Changemaker campus.” Catanzaro will assemble a task force comprised of students, faculty and staff that will be responsible for formally launching the initiative and the timeline for implementation this fall.

Since opening the region’s only nonprofit E-Waste Collection Center in 2011, USD has collected more than 350,000 pounds of e-waste from the campus and the public. Earlier this month, USD received national recognition as the winner of the e-waste portion of the national Recyclemania competition involving 80 other universities from around the country. Last spring, USD was also recognized as the “Outstanding Sustainable Organization of the Year” by the California Center for Sustainable Energy at its eighth annual Energy All-Star Awards.

Other USD efforts toward sustainability in the last few years include reducing its energy consumption by more than 20 percent, reducing its water consumption by more than 33 percent and installing more than 5,000 photovoltaic panels that generate 14 percent of the university’s peak energy needs, making USD one of the largest solar energy producers among all private colleges in the United States.

USD also participates in the San Diego region’s Climate Collaborative to facilitate climate action planning, was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to promote climate change awareness and is home to the Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) to develop sustainable solutions to meet future energy needs.

During the Earth Day celebration, USD will also announce the winner of the “One Challenge” competition. Students, faculty and staff were invited to submit two-minute videos addressing an idea or solution addressing the environment and wasteful production and consumption. A joint project of USD’s Office of Sustainability and Changemaker Hub, the four winning teams will each receive $2,000 to make their idea a reality.

A local student band, “We Are Soon to Be,” will provide music for the event. Participating vendors include US Foods Ben and Jerry’s, 1:1 Movement, San Diego Sustainable Living Institute, Zipcar, Waste Management, Fair Trade San Diego and Fair Trade USD, Vava Vida, Upcycled Around Town, I Love a Clean San Diego and USD’s Changemaker Hub, Office of Sustainability and E-Waste Collection Center.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.