SDG Observatory

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.


Responsible Consumption and Production Globally

Sustainable Development Goal 12 is intertwined with economic, environmental, and social sustainability. For too long, economic growth has been contingent upon worldwide consumption and environmental degradation. To accomplish SDG 12 [Sustainable Development Goal 12] the United Nations encourages a reimaging of the way we consume and dispose of resources.

Annually, an estimated 1/3 of all food produced ends up being disposed of because of harvesting and transportation issues. At our current rate of growth, we will need almost two whole planets worth of resources to provide for the world population. As the UN puts it, we must find ways to “do more and better with less.”


Responsible Consumption and Production Locally

On campus at UT Dallas, the total waste generated annually per weighted campus user is 0.11 tons. 21.26% of these materials are diverted from the landfill. In the recycling program, the contamination rate is 10%. The full report of our Waste Minimization and Diversion can be seen through our 2023 AASHE Report. Below are some ways we are working to reduce waste and consume responsibly at UTD.



Sustainable Dining & Food Waste Reduction

SDG 1: No Poverty
SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Composting is an important part of the campus waste management program that is continuously evolving. Pre-Consumer food waste contributions began in 2011 in partnership with Dining Services and Facilities Management. In August 2017, a partnership with Organix Recycling formed and enhanced the overall composting program at UT Dallas. With the transition, specialized compost containers were installed near kitchen locations, therefore simplifying the pre-consumer food waste collection process. With this new partnership, additional food items became acceptable in the waste stream that were not previously accepted (for example, meat and dairy products), increasing the amount of food waste that is recycled. As of current, Dining Services, in partnership with Turn Compost, has taken the lead and moved to all food waste collections in Dining Hall West.

The University of Texas at Dallas has evolved its composting program from previously targeting only landscape waste, to including pre and post-consumer food waste, and now to providing students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to compost on-campus. Since 2012, UT Dallas has composted over 500,000 lbs. of food waste, therefore diverting 81 metric tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere campus-wide. Since expanding the compost program into Housing in September 2018, over 11,000 lbs. of food waste has been composted from on-campus resident participants.

Composting has been on the mind of students for many years. In fall 2018, the UT Dallas Student Government Green Initiative Committee took the lead and collaborated with The Office of Sustainability within Facilities Management, Housing, and Organix Recycling to make the composting program accessible to residents of University Village and Canyon Creek Apartments. In order to participate in the program, residents must attend a compost training. At the training, residents will learn what goes in the compost containers, how to manage individualized food collection caddies, and acquire a combination for the lock securing the containers. Beginning in 2022, the Office of Sustainability began a partnership with Turn Compost, and compost drop-off stations were expanded from three to eleven locations, including expanded service to Northside apartments, residence halls, and the campus core.


Specialty Recycling Programs & Recycling Locator

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 13: Climate Action
A group of Eco Reps put together a recycling bin.

Photo Source: UTD Recycling

Recycling is a key aspect for reducing our environmental impact at UT Dallas. Recycle bins are located on the interior and exterior of buildings across campus. UT Dallas operates a single-stream recycling program. This means you can place cardboard, paper, aluminum cans, metal cans, plastics (1-5 and 7), and unbroken glass bottles in a recycling bin. Specialty recycling streams include batteries, cardboard, clothing and shoes, confidential paper shredding, electronics, metal, nitrile gloves, plastic wrap, printer cartridges and toner.

Read more about Recycling at UT Dallas.

Check out our Specialty Recycling Locator.


Sustainable Purchasing

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 15: Life on Land

The University of Texas at Dallas is comprised of numerous departments and offices. Throughout the workday, paper is a high use product in producing reports, plans, programs, and many other uses. To reduce the overall cost of paper purchasing, The Office of Sustainability recommends evaluating the feasibility of utilizing digital documents and shared drives when practical and possible. If this is not possible, please consider purchasing post-consumer recycled office paper. In FY21, 17% of paper purchased by the university contained at least 10% recycled content. Most office supply retailer’s offer recycled paper products. In the Electronics Purchasing area, 38% of University electronic products purchased in FY21 are EPEAT gold registered. Additionally, 33% of janitorial cleaning products and 99% of janitorial paper products are certified with a “green” certification approved by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The University-wide Sustainability Committee at UT Dallas is also currently developing a plan to reduce single use plastic purchasing and usage on campus. In coming years, the Office of Sustainability hopes to take further action in sustainable purchasing.


Hazardous Waste Management

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 15: Life on Land

A campus-wide Pollution Prevention Plan is in place that covers several initiatives for source reduction and waste minimization (SRR/WM) on campus, including:

  • Tracking waste generated and disposal costs by source to help focus waste minimization activities. The majority of these waste types are generated by laboratories, therefore; a large effort is made to work closely with them. This includes a training system for labs encouraging these SW/WM activities, some of which are detailed below.
  • Campus-wide recycling efforts, including for facilities buildings and campus apartments. This includes the ongoing project of switching from fluorescent lamps to LED [Light Emitting Diode] to reduce toxicity of waste and frequency of replacement.
  • All laboratory chemical orders must be reviewed by UT Dallas’ Chemical Safety team through UT Dallas’ procurement system. This has caught mistakes in ordering (ex. 200 liters ordered versus the intended 20 liters), resulting in less unused chemicals and safer storage conditions on campus. It also alerts the hazardous waste team of any new potential wastes to be generated on campus.
  • UT Dallas also utilizes a Chemical Inventory System (CIS [Chemical Inventory System] ), which inventories and tracks all hazardous chemicals in laboratories. This allows lab members to easily find chemicals that are needed and share chemicals, if needed in small amounts, reducing the chemicals coming onto campus.
  • UT Dallas also has a program to track certain chemicals of concern, which degrade with age. Quarterly, a report containing “expiring” chemicals is managed by the Chemical Safety team and communicated to the relevant labs. This program encourages the chemicals to be used before expiration or increased hazard, reducing the waste generated.
  • The UT Dallas also has an Institutional Biosafety and Chemical Safety Committee (IBCC [Institutional Biosafety and Chemical Safety Committee] ), which reviews the need and subsequent safe management of particularly hazardous chemicals. This helps address the actual need for certain chemicals to reduce particularly hazardous chemicals on campus.


Landscape Management & Construction Waste Diversion

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
SDG 15: Life on Land

At UT Dallas, the collected landscape waste materials are integrated into the campus composting operations. Small and medium sized tree limbs are placed in a brush pile where they are eventually shredded down to be composted.


Goals / Future Work

  • Continue improving waste diversion and minimization
  • Involve more on-campus residents in the Comet Composting effort


Learn More

  • Take the online courses regarding Responsible Consumption and Production from SDG Academy
  • Learn more about the targets and indicators at the UN Global Goals website