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 three 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 per weighted campus user is 0.12 tons. 30.36% of these materials are diverted from the landfill. In the recycling program, the contamination rate is around. 7.60%. The full report of our Waste Minimization and Diversion can be seen through our 2019 AASHE Report. Below are some ways we are working to reduce waste and consume responsibly at UTD.



Campus Race to Zero Waste

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Every year, students from ECO, Student Government, and Eco Reps all help to support UTD’s Campus Race to Zero Waste effort by helping to collect data and educate peers to reduce waste and increase recycling. Staff also conducted an internal contamination audit to determine the contamination rate at UTD and identify strategies to reduce contamination where issues presented. For the 2021 competition, UT Dallas Eco Reps launched an informative social media campaign, educating students about specialty recycling streams and ways to reduce their waste. Eco Rep Anastasia Whittemore also began UTD’s first ever Zero Waste Coalition, involving students outside of Eco Reps to be involved in the education effort. Together, the Zero Waste Coalition hosted an informative trivia night to celebrate the Campus Race to Zero Waste competition.


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 has taken the lead and moved to all food waste collections in Dining Hall West.

The UTD Marketing Club partnered with the Office of Sustainability and Dining Services to create educational signage placed in the dining hall to educate students about food waste and how to participate in the composting program.

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 420,700 lbs. of food waste, therefore diverting 81 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere campus wide. Since expanding the compost program into Housing in September 2018, over 2,950 lbs. of food waste have 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. In 2021, Eco Rep Caroline Lonneman led the Comet Composting Challenge, registering 30+ new participants in Comet Composting through completion of an online training and picking up an individualized caddy.


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, Styrofoam packing peanuts, Styrofoam #6 (polystyrene), and used binders. Disposable mask recycling was also introduced in Fall of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a partnership with Teracycle, 6 disposable mask recycling locations were introduced across campus.

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 Office Paper Purchasing, 6.71% of expenditures are on paper that is 90-100% post-consumer recycled and/or agriculture residue content and/or FSC Recycled Label. Most office supply retailer’s offer recycled paper products. In the Electronics Purchasing area, 21.23% of electronic products are EPEAT gold registered. Additionally, 77.38% of janitorial paper products are FSC, Green Seal, and/or UL ECOLOGO certified. 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 and reused on-campus. Leaves are collected on-campus in heavy duty, reusable bags. The leaves are collected on-campus and added with pre-consumer food waste to make compost, then mixed with soil and reused on campus. UT Dallas also harvests milkweed seeds from our Monarch Waystation to replenish the station. This reduces the demand for milkweed seed purchases from external parties which is protective of campus resources.

In the reporting year for our 2019 AASHEAssociation of Advancement in Higher Education report, the only capital project under construction was the new Science Building. In this project, an estimated 78.23% of construction and demolition materials were diverted from the landfill.


Goals / Future Work

  • Continue improving waste diversion and minimization through participation in the Campus Race to Zero Waste competition
  • Involve more on-campus residents in the Comet Composting effort


Other Work We Do

The programs highlighted here are just one piece of the work we do on campus to achieve SDG 12 [Sustainable Development Goal 12] . View the full dataset (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ), guided by the Association of Advancement in Higher Education (AASHEAssociation of Advancement in Higher Education)’s Sustainable Development Goal translation guide.


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