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Garbage disposal changes coming to Twin Cities campus

Facilities Management is offsetting diminished trash and recycling services by encouraging everyone to pitch in

By Chris Kelleher


July 21, 2009

In the face of historic budget cuts, University of Minnesota departments have to find creative ways to cut costs and streamline operations. Facilities Management (FM) is no exception. FM began fiscal year 2009 with 522 custodial positions and now has just 459. To offset this resource loss, individuals are being asked to empty their own trash containers.

Successful pilot

Anticipating budget cuts, Facilities Management began a pilot program in January whereby individuals manage their own deskside trash and recycling. Instead of having a custodian remove their trash daily, they empty their own wastebasket into a communal container emptied daily by FM staff. Pilot participant surveys indicate that 90 percent of respondents believe the new service meets their needs.

Campuswide changes save $3 million

Based on the pilot’s success, the new service will begin anywhere between July 20 and August 14. Each UMTC campus building's custodial service will be reduced as follows:

•    Office trash and cleaning service goes from five days to one day per week
•    Research lab trash and cleaning service goes from five days to three days per week

On the days custodians no longer clean offices and labs, U faculty and staff will now be asked to empty their own deskside waste and recycling into large communal containers or "Quads." FM will provide extra bag liners at desks and will post schedules for when each office, cube, or lab will be cleaned. Implementing these changes campuswide will save the University $3 million.

Everyone pitching in
Until implementation of this program, the U of M had been the only Big Ten school with daily office and lab custodial service. While reducing custodial services places more responsibility on customers, most pilot participants have embraced the changes.

School of Dentistry dean Patrick Lloyd comments about his department's participation in the pilot, "Not only has the transition been smooth, it hasn't required much additional effort. And everyone seems to feel good about the potential impact both financially and environmentally."

By relying on faculty and staff to manage their own deskside waste, FM can focus its diminished resources more on public spaces.

President Bruininks has welcomed and invites such creative ways to help balance University budgets, and he believes the campus community is up to the task. "We all have to pitch in to reduce costs and increase efficiency at the University," he says. "Our individual efforts every day will result in millions of dollars in savings—it all adds up."

For more about Facilities Management, visit the FM Web site.