The Zero Waste Atlas assessment surveyed materials management systems at the University of South Dakota’s Vermillion campus with the goal of benchmarking and goal-setting for zero waste. Past projects at USD have researched the recycling system and implemented a bike share program, but the Atlas assessment was the first to simultaneously evaluate how campus departments purchase, use, and discard materials. Over the summer of 2020, a graduate student interning with the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) interviewed over 30 stakeholders on campus, including representatives from housing, athletics, facilities, student organizations, academic departments, and administrative offices. In a Google Form, phone call, or virtual meeting, stakeholders answered an identical set of questions intended to measure the consistency of communication before answering questions specific to their area of campus. The survey found that stakeholders value efficiency, fiscal responsibility, and the environment, and that the campus has, in its surplus property and electronics recycling programs, a model of effective, campus-wide infrastructure and communication that other programs could follow. Based on quantitative scores from the assessment and recommendations in the report from PLAN, the Presidents’ Committee on Sustainability at USD began discussing implementation in fall 2020. Top steps include creating a zero waste orientation for new students, working on purchasing policies, creating convenient opportunities for recycling and reuse in residence halls, addressing construction and renovation waste, and standardizing bins and signage.
Moore, Anna G., "Zero Waste Atlas: Charting a Path for USD" (2021). IdeaFest. 404.