In July, the University of Oregon finalized $11.6 million dollars in cuts from the budget for the next academic year. Due to the budget cuts, several staff members were terminated or reassigned, and some programs needed to be restructured — including the Zero Waste Program, which gives students opportunities to work hands-on with campus waste reduction.
The Zero Waste program was divided and absorbed into Facility Services and the Office of Sustainability. “All units across the institution were charged with implementing budget cuts and looking for efficiencies where we could have them,” said Steve Mital, the director of the Office of Sustainability.
Despite the elimination of the actual program, Mital said he does not expect Zero Waste to be affected by any future ramifications from the budget cuts, especially student jobs. Zero Waste currently will be employing a total of 45 students with wage at $11.50 per hour for the 2019-2020 academic year. “We are not anticipating any of the total budgeted hours for student hours to change,” he said.
The only professional position laid off from the Zero Waste program due to the budget cuts was program manager Karyn Kaplan.
Education and outreach will be handled by the Office of Sustainability, while the waste operations will be handled by Facility Services. Jeff Butler, director of Facility Services, did not respond to requests for comment.
Recently, the composting bins circulating around the EMU and in residence halls have become sparse. However, This is not a result of the budget cuts, Mital said. Composting vendors statewide have changed the items that they accept; compostable cups, silverware and napkins are no longer considered compostable. All composting bins on campus are now found in the UO kitchens, where 70 percent of food waste goes, according to Mital.