A report summarizing the zero-waste challenge held during an NMU Wildcats hockey game last month indicates that the NMU Sustainability Advisory Council was able to divert 90 percent of all waste materials from going to the landfill.
Game attendees were instructed on how to sort their waste by trash, compost and recyclable items. There was signage at seven sorting stations, where two to three student volunteers were available to assist and answer questions.
Of the 49 student volunteers, many were interested in learning more about commercial composting after seeing the large amount of items that were able to go into the organics section of the sorting bins.
“There are plenty of materials that can be composted industrially that I had no idea could be,” said one volunteer in the student feedback section of the report. “It has dramatically changed how I organize my waste and recycling as well as compost.”
NMU partnered with Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority, which removed the bagged items, weighed them and correctly processed them. The post-challenge report prepared by Stephanie Raboin of NMU Dining Services indicated 75 percent of the waste was composted, 19 percent was recycled and 6 percent went into the landfill.
“In a single night, the zero-waste challenge demonstrated all of Northern’s core values: community, opportunity, rigor, environment, inclusion, connections and innovation,” said Sarah Mittlefehldt, Sustainability Advisory Council co-chair. “This event embodied the spirit of collaboration. The challenge would not have happened without the passion and commitment of students, staff, faculty and our partners at the Marquette county landfill.”
By hosting the zero-waste challenge, the sustainability council encouraged the NMU campus and local community to create less waste and a positive impact for the future. The sustainability council’s long-term goal is to "create a lasting impact on the university where sustainability is part of our campus culture and identity."