The University of Georgia Office of Sustainability (UGA OoS) was founded in 2010 and has been promoting sustainability initiatives involving “teaching, research, service, student engagement, and campus operations” for the thirteen years it has been operating (UGA OoS). UGA OoS recently partnered with CIRT to deliver real-time recycling information to students on both main and health sciences campuses. CIRT’s implementation can be found on the UGA OoS Waste Reduction page. Bins all around both campuses will have a CIRT QR Code to direct students about if, how, and where to recycle packaging. Through education, information, and technology, this partnership will increase recycling and keep plastics and other recyclables out of landfills and the environment.
CIRT was born out of UGA from Dr. Jenna Jambeck’s research group at the College of Engineering, and Katherine Shayne became the founder of CIRT while working with Jambeck to improve sustainability. Jambeck is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Georgia, Head of the Circularity Informatics Lab, Lead of the Center for Circular Materials Management in the New Materials Institute, a National Geographic Fellow, and co-Lead of Sea to Source Expedition: Ganges. Shayne gained her Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering and B.S. in Environmental Engineering from UGA and acts as CIRT’s Chief Science Officer. Shayne worked under Jambeck for the Jambeck Research Group and UGA New Materials Institute. They are the premier researchers of ocean plastic pollution who, in a seminal 2015 study, provided the first estimate of the amount of plastic waste entering the Ocean each year: 8 million metric tons - that’s the same as the 1 truck (5 tons) of plastic dumped into the Ocean every minute.
The partnership between CIRT and UGA is a full-circle moment, with CIRT being born from UGA’s College of Engineering through research. The recycling sorting problem arose for Shayne and Jambeck during their research. Recycling is complicated and requires dynamic data; thus, the CIRT Platform became a reality, and the mission to run the world more sustainably continues to be at the cornerstone of their work. The two organizations' missions align to create a partnership that will positively impact the sustainability of UGA.
The goal of the partnership is to provide education that will lead to landfill diversion, recycling stream contamination mitigation, and, ultimately, CO2 emissions reduction. UGA’s continued focus on sustainability has allowed for more of these innovations to be brought to campus. The next time you’re on UGA’s campus, check out Sustainable UGA’s Waste Reduction Page to find out more about what you can recycle on campus.