For the eighth time in five years, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has honored the University of Southern Maine's efforts to reduce and reuse waste at its campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston.
From 2017 to 2018, USM increased the amount of food waste it recovered from 77.4 tons to 92.5 tons. Much of the success is attributed to Sodexo’s cooperation with USM efforts to limit food waste on both campuses. Due to the progress, the university was awarded a 2018 Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Certificate from the EPA’s New England regional office in Boston.
Other recent New England honorees have included Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, Northeastern University, the Raytheon Company and Hannaford.
"Winning our 8th award from the EPA is a huge honor, and speaks to the dedication of our USM community toward achieving our sustainability goals of increasing waste diversion to 70%, while decreasing waste creation by 25%." said Aaron Witham, USM’s assistant director for sustainable programs.
The Office of Sustainability employs 15 to 20 students — called “Eco-Reps” — to work on various sustainability initiatives on campus. The student employees have conducted waste monitoring in the Woodbury Campus Center on the Portland campus, implemented a food waste recovery pilot program in Upperclass Hall on the Gorham campus and deployed a sneaker recycling program.