The Environmental Protection Agency recently honored Suffolk University with a Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Award. The University was one of only seven New England Colleges and Universities so honored.

“It’s an honor for Suffolk University’s resource management efforts to be recognized,” said Campus Sustainability Coordinator, Erica Mattison.

A composting pilot program launched in the Law School cafe six years ago now touches all areas of the University.

“We have brought down trash output by 25 percent and have increased our composting output to over 160,000 pounds per year,” said Mattison.

The University has accomplished this by making it easy to reduce food waste and investing in receptacles that allow the kitchen staff, diners and event attendees to compost. Sodexo, the University dining company, also has worked with Suffolk to educate the campus community about recycling, with signage in the dining halls indicating what qualifies as trash, compost and recycling.

The achievement award follows the University’s participation in the Food Recovery Challenge, part of the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials throughout their life cycles. The Challenge encourages organizations nationwide to save money by reducing waste and lowering the amount they spend on fees for disposal of unconsumed foods. The goal is to feed other people with unconsumed food and not let it go to waste in landfills.

Suffolk University joins Harvard University, Clark University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Middlebury College, Keene State and the University of New Hampshire, Durham, in significantly cutting down food waste.

Together, these seven institutions kept more than 2,528 tons of food scraps from disposal by using them for other purposes, such as food donations and composting.

Among Suffolk’s other efforts to support sustainability is the new “Operation Paper Cut.” The University next fall will begin providing a printing allotment of 500 pages per semester to each student enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School. The Law School already has taken the initiative to cut down on paper waste and monitors student printing.