Students complete campus zero waste assessment

During the Spring 2021 semester, five UW–Madison students joined the Zero Waste Atlas Fellowship program. Students performed interviews and gathered information from a variety of campus stakeholders to complete its first zero waste assessment.

Scoring UW–Madison’s zero waste efforts

According to the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN), the “Atlas Zero Waste Certification creates a high-level standard for a zero waste campus. This standard will not allow for greenwashing of the Zero Waste Movement or waste reduction efforts and pushes for continuous progress and innovation. This certification framework creates a standard benchmarking tool for campuses to set meaningful goals using a universal metric to measure and track progress towards zero waste. The ability to compare zero waste initiatives at all types of campuses will allow us to celebrate campuses that demonstrate leadership and successful models for zero waste programming!”

Below is the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s zero waste score as defined by the Atlas Zero Waste Certification program.

Scorecard Summary of UW-Madison Atlas Zero Waste – Stage 1 – Spring 2021

View Full Report

What’s Next?

Unfortunately, UW–Madison failed to achieve a score high enough to obtain a certification level. The UW–Madison Zero Waste Team plans to complete the Stage 2: Strategic Visioning process to review the Stage 1 report and identify system-wide gaps in program efficiencies. This effort will be merged with the long-term campus zero waste planning process.

Shout Out!

The UW-Madison Zero Waste Team gives a big shout out to the student fellows and student team members: Will Awve, Cassie Sanford, Max McMeeken, Eloise Petruska, Alec Schmelzer, Emily Pieper, and Joe Liebforth. In a normal year, their efforts would be categorized as outstanding. During a semester challenged by a global pandemic, their efforts were remarkable! Their fortitude, commitment, and overall contributions are keeping UW–Madison’s zero waste efforts on the right track.

How Can You Help?

  1. Subscribe to the Office of Sustainability’s Newsletter to learn about new zero waste opportunities.
  2. Take advantage of the PLAN Membership benefits that include a discount directory, event opportunities, digital resources/manuals, and leadership courses.
  3. Contact UW–Madison’s Zero Waste Team,, for more information on how you can get involved!

By: Travis Blomberg