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UL Lafayette leads seven-university, statewide waste reduction program

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is leading a seven-university initiative to engage students in sustainability research that will help reduce waste on campuses and in communities and waterways.

The collaboration is part of Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s University Affiliate Program. Keep Louisiana Beautiful is a nonprofit based in Baton Rouge that was founded in 2000; it fosters programs to prevent litter, reduce waste and bolster recycling.

Those efforts are carried out with help from organizations, businesses, governmental entities and more than 260,000 volunteers. Keep Louisiana Beautiful brought colleges and universities into the fold last year.

The foundation of its new university program is a five-year, $500,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant awarded to UL Lafayette to create and launch the program. Keep Louisiana Beautiful is a sub-recipient.

UL Lafayette will spearhead distribution of the grant. Participating universities are Grambling State, Louisiana State, Nicholls State and Tulane universities, and the University of New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana.

The grant will fund initiatives such as waste reduction education programs, strategic forums for the exchange resources and ideas to develop zero waste programs, sustainability projects and community service events.

It will also enable implementation of a litter assessment database, an effort built around information gathered by students on their campuses and in their communities. The objective is to identify events and circumstances such as floods that generate large amounts of waste and marine debris.

“The data will provide a baseline for what waste is being produced, who’s producing it and where it’s being produced. The goal is to help public officials and businesses make decisions about waste reduction and prevention,” said Gretchen LaCombe Vanicor, director of UL Lafayette’s Office of Sustainability.

“Students, on the other hand, will get experience with waste research and data collection and become change agents capable of implementing effective solutions to environmental challenges,” she added.
 
Photo caption: UL Lafayette is leading a seven-university sustainability research initiative to help reduce waste statewide. It is funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for waste reduction education, zero waste programs, sustainability projects and community service events. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

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