KCAD Earns Second Place in 2024 Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition

Posted May 28, 2024 in Campus, Collaborative Design

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University earned recognition as one of the top performers in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2024 Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition.  

KCAD competed among 81 colleges in the Diversion category, ranking second place in the Small Campus division and third place overall. Logo for 2nd place small campus division of Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition

The 2024 Campus Race to Zero Waste competition challenged more than 2.7 million college students, faculty and staff across 150+ campuses to reduce their waste footprint through minimization efforts including recycling, composting, and donation.  

As a result, participants collectively diverted an impressive 30.7 million pounds of waste from landfills, kept 105 million single-use plastic containers out of landfills, and prevented the release of 23,174 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere, equal to avoiding the annual emissions from 5,515 cars.  

During the eight-week competition from Jan. 28 – March 23, the KCAD campus community worked collaboratively on reduction and recycling strategies to divert over 60 percent of waste generated on its downtown Grand Rapids campus away from landfills.   

Student sitting at a table with information encouraging participation in the Campus Race to Zero Waste KCAD Green Council student Bailee Keener helped to inform the campus community about waste minimization efforts throughout the eight-week competition.

KCAD Collaborative Design professor and sustainability officer Gayle DeBruyn said the college achieved its waste minimization goal by being adamant about proper waste sorting and making conscious decisions about the materials brought onto campus.  

“Sustainability is a core value of the KCAD community,” said DeBruyn. “Thanks to the diligent efforts of our students, faculty, and incredible Facilities team, we have stayed persistent in our collective commitment to reducing waste on campus.”   

A waste bin with four compartments for sorting recyclable and compostable materials.Waste sorting bins are placed throughout the KCAD campus for a variety of materials including paper, plastic, metal, glass, food waste, candy and snack wrappers, plastic markers, and styrofoam. 

Success in the Diversion category is determined by weekly tracking and reporting on the total weight of recyclables and food organics diverted from total waste generated. Top-ranking schools in this category have the highest recycling rate, which means they not only have reduced trash disposal through waste prevention but also have a robust recycling program for acceptable materials.  

Pile of mulch on a green lawn with a meter inserted for material testingKCAD students visited Organicycle to determine if our FLEXlab's 3D printing PLA filament composts to their specifications—and it does!

“Our 2024 winners show why colleges continue to be among our nation’s leaders on sustainability. These schools run the gamut - urban and rural, public, and private, large and small,” says Stacy Wheeler, president and co-founder of the competition. “Their success shows that waste reduction in any type of community is possible, and is a testament to every student, faculty and staff member who made these accomplishments happen.” 

KCAD 2024 Results:  
  • Second Place – Diversion Category (small campus)  
  • Third Place – Diversion Category (overall)  
  • Total pounds of waste recycled, donated, or composted: 2,326.5lbs
  • Total greenhouse gas emissions reductions: 3 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
  • Waste minimization strategies: Increasing recycling, composting, and reducing food waste and single-use plastics  


For more details about competition categories and winners, check out the
2024 scoreboard 

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