The mission of R4 is to engage the Concordia community in becoming a Zero Waste Campus.
The 4Rs stand for: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. We see resource waste not only as an environmental problem but also as a financial waste and a social injustice.
Rethink: We encourage the community to rethink resource consumption
on campus and in their own lives. We advocate the use of Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and the consideration of social impacts when making decisions about resource use. We also encourage the integration of the other three Rs in the R4 hierarchy (reduce, reuse, and recycle) into decision-making to minimize environmental impact.
Reduce: We aim to reduce consumption - the best way to reduce environmental impacts and to conserve resources.
Reuse: When consumption is necessary, we encourage reusable options. Be creative about finding new uses for things!
Recycle (and Compost): When reuse is not an option, the last and least ecologically benign option is to choose recyclable or compostable products. Industrial-scale recycling and composting require a lot of resources in transporting and transforming materials. Private or community composting, though, is pretty low-impact.
How does R4 operate?
We conduct waste audits to assess the state of waste outputs at Concordia. The results of these audits lead to focus campaigns and projects designed to address problem areas. To date, waste audit results have spurred the creation of composting programs, reusable mug incentives, the Free Dish Project, and one-sided paper projects. We are now looking to expand our focus to include assessing resource inputs at Concordia by consulting on purchases, and advocating for stronger purchasing policies at the administrative and faculty levels. Our goal is to create a standard that could also be enforced when renting out spaces on campus. We use a consultative and multi-stakeholder approach with the intention of empowering the community to take part in decisions related to resource use and associated waste. We advocate for change at individual, institutional, and governmental scales in terms of resource consumption and waste management practices.
R4's origins are in the waste audits conducted at Concordia in the 90s, lead by a part-time work-study position at the university called the Recycling Coordinator, which reported to a Recycling Committee. Recycling infrastructure was set up while Vermicomposting bins were being sold through the CSU. In 2005, Chantal Beaudoin made a business case to the University to adopt more recycling bins and signage, to support vermicomposting, and to create a full-time position (R4 Coordinator). R4 became a group that focused on looking beyond recycling to reduce our waste impact and became a working group of Sustainable Concordia. In 2006, lead by Louise Hénault-Éthier, R4 became the first Sustainable Concordia group to set up a project in the Concordia Greenhouse with the large-scale vermicompost project. That year also saw the launch of both the Bookstore project and the Free Dish Project. In 2008, R4 and facilities management set up the first medium-scale industrial composter at an institution in Québec. In 2010, R4 launched the Zero Waste Campaign and Huggy the Muggy - the R4 mascot was born.