University of Southern California: 5 ways USC commencement is cleaner and greener

Commencement is one of USC’s biggest non-athletic events of the year — some 60,000 people are expected for Friday’s ceremonies — but the university will continue to strive to be green despite the crowds. The goal for commencement ceremony venues is to be zero-waste, or at least as close to zero-waste as possible, notably at major sites such as Alumni Memorial Park, Founders Park, Cromwell Field and McCarthy Quad.

Here are five ways the 2022 USC commencement will be greener and cleaner than before:

1. Using fewer generators.
The power for commencement will come from “spider boxes” around campus that will pull energy from surrounding buildings. That’s instead of gas-powered generators, whose use the university reduced by nearly 80%.

2. Multistream recycling bins.
This spring, USC Facilities Planning and Management installed 98 multistream bins around the University Park Campus, replacing more than 230 old receptacles. The new bins include graphics showing users what can and cannot go in each section, including compost, recycling, landfill and liquid pour stations to help sort waste and increase the university’s diversion rate from landfill.

3. Reducing single-use plastics.
As part of the larger effort to eliminate single-use plastics on campus, all water bottles available for purchase at commencement will be aluminum. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles (see below).

4. Water refill stations.
The University Park Campus has 172 such stations, and the Health Sciences Campus has 33. Those refill sites save the university about 140,411 water bottles a month, said Zelinda Welch, sustainability manager at USC Facilities Planning and Management.

5. Reducing paper use.
The university used to place programs on every seat of the main ceremony, but about half of those would be left behind, said Adam Rosen, USC’s associate vice president of cultural relations and university events. This year the university printed 3,000 fewer programs. Rosen said. They will be available at the 10 information booths around University Park Campus and one on the Health Sciences Campus.

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