On Monday, February 6th, Faith Roberts interviewed Ryan Lark on Greentalks, a WRFL segment supported by the UK Student Sustainability Council. In the interview, Ryan discussed his role with UK Recycling, UK’s new list of expanded recyclables, and the University’s goal to become a zero-waste campus by 2030.
In October 2022, Ryan Lark was hired by UK Recycling to fulfill the role of Recycling and Waste Reduction Specialist. Ryan is a UK alumnus who studied Biology, Animal Science, and Environmental and Sustainability Studies. During his undergrad, he became involved in sustainability on UK’s campus through his involvement with Greenthumb, UK’s environmental advocacy group.
Ryan discussed several important but lesser-known initiatives and resources related to waste reduction on campus such as UK Surplus, food and organic waste collection in the dining halls, and recycling in University Flats. He also shared more information about UK Recycling’s exciting announcement of their goal to make UK a zero-waste campus:
“In 2017, UK released a 5-year Sustainability Strategic Plan. Part of that plan included a goal that by 2022, the University wanted to reach 50% waste reduction. So everything that would normally go to the landfill, they wanted 50% of that to no longer be wasted… We don’t have the numbers yet for 2022, but in 2021 we had a 47% reduction, so we’re on track. Now that 2022 is over, we’re rewriting that [plan], updating it, and extending it to 2030. Now UK Recycling’s new goal for waste reduction is that by 2030, we wanna be a zero-waste campus. That is 90% waste reduction as opposed to 50%…”
While 90% waste reduction is an ambitious goal, Ryan discussed the initiatives and programs that will assist UK in becoming a zero-waste campus. Recently, through their partnership with WestRock, UK Recycling was able to expand the amount and the type of acceptable recyclables on campus to include items such as paper cups, plastic cups, aluminum foil, and plastic to-go containers. These new items can be recycled in the blue mixed recycling containers on campus. You can read more about the expanded recycling program here, in Ryan’s blog post on WholeSum.
Ryan also shared about UK’s 8th year participating in the nationwide challenge, Campus Race to Zero Waste. This challenge benchmarks the university against other schools across the US in an effort to increase recycling awareness and minimize waste on campus. Students can support UK’s efforts to win the race by utilizing the expanded list of recyclables and refusing items that cannot be recycled in the new bins, such as styrofoam and single-use cutlery.
You can hear Greentalks interviews from the past two weeks by visiting the WRFL archive and listening to the 1 pm show on Mondays. Tune in to WRFL 88.1 FM each week on Mondays from 1 pm to 2 pm to listen to the live Greentalks show!