OWM supports the widely accepted Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) approach which says that "garbage" is not a homogenous mass to be burned or buried and then forgotten. Instead, "garbage" consists of a diverse spectrum of discarded materials and products each with specific characteristics and properties which make them more or less suitable for reuse, recycling , composting or disposal. ISWM argues that the environment endures the least harm and receives the most benefit when garbage is managed according to the following waste management hierarchy:
- Recycle or Compost
- Incinerate with Energy Recovery
The Office of Waste Management (OWM) has created a comprehensive recycling and composting program that compares well among the top University programs nationally.
The recycling efforts of University staff, faculty, and students annually conserve 45,000 gallons of oil, save 20,000 trees and help UMass to avoid $275,000 in disposal charges. These are just some of the environmental and resource conservation benefits associated with UMass' 58% recycling rate.