The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has recognized Suffolk University as the 2009 WasteWise “Partner of the Year” for its comprehensive recycling and waste-prevention efforts.

MassDEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sponsor annual WasteWise Leadership Awards, including “Partner of the Year,” to recognize companies and organizations that demonstrate recycling leadership, sustainability, and innovation.

“These efforts are models for other communities and organizations that are looking to protect our environment and save money by reducing waste and expanding recycling programs,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles.

MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt described Suffolk University, the first Massachusetts institution of higher education to receive the Wastewise Partner of the Year Award, as among the “forward-thinking, innovative organizations that are doing the right things to help our environment.”

Campus recycling efforts

Since launching its waste-reduction initiatives in 2006, Suffolk University has successfully expanded recycling and waste prevention awareness throughout the campus, increasing the recycling rate from about 5 percent to 45 percent. In that time, the University has reduced trash output by close to 540,000 pounds.

Several of the University’s core target=_blank>waste-reduction initiatives focus on residence halls and student involvement. Spring 2009 saw a 65 percent decrease in waste output in the residence halls, compared to Spring 2006. This is due in part to recycling accommodations on each floor and a “Dump and Run” donation program during spring move-out. New students and employees receive an orientation that outlines campus sustainability initiatives, as well as how to become involved in service-learning projects, departmental green teams and environmental clubs.

Other green initiatives include the “mug club,” which provides campus café patrons with a discount for using their own mugs; a “bring-your-own-bag” program to facilitate waste reduction at the University and Law School bookstores; several community partnerships; and the use of green cleaning products.

MassDEP and the U.S. EPA jointly support the voluntary Massachusetts WasteWise Program, which provides waste-reduction assistance to participating businesses and organizations.