UT Surplus Store Repurposes Items While Diverting Waste From Landfills
Oct 15, 2023

UT Surplus Store Repurposes Items While Diverting Waste From Landfills

Reporting Texas TV

AUSTIN, Texas – An off-campus warehouse filled with trinkets and treasures offers the Austin community the opportunity to buy University of Texas assets.

The Surplus REuse Store is nestled in north Austin at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, and is open to the public on Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.- 12 p.m.

Resource Recovery manager Mark Engelman said interns set up and ran two pilot projects in 2017, which led to a full-fledged store.

“Once we knew that there was an interest community-wide here in Austin, we moved forward with employing students specifically for the store process,” Engelman said.

“We started regular Thursday stores, and eventually Thursdays and Saturdays.”

Items available for purchase are university property no longer needed by the school, and include books, furniture, apparel and UT merchandise.

Customers browse items at the UT Surplus Reuse Store in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 5, 2023. (Melanie Faz/Reporting Texas TV)

“The way we run the store is a Dutch-based auction,” store supervisor Luis Alvarado said.

“When a new item comes in for the month, it’s full price. After it’s here for one month, it drops down 25%. After the third month, it’s 50%. And then after the fourth month, it is 75%.”

If an item is still there after five months, the price drops to $1.

The store’s sustainable model is part of the University’s Zero Waste Program to reduce and divert waste from landfills. Alvarado said the store repurposed 11.6 tons of apparel and furniture in September.

“We don’t throw anything away here unless it’s physically broken or damaged,” Alvarado said.