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Key Objective: 6. Purchasing, Waste, and Recycling

Waste on campus comes in many forms: animal waste from the south farms on this campus, landscape waste from trimmings, and municipal solid waste (MSW) – the stuff that you put in a trashcan. In FY14, we diverted 85.6% of these wastes from the landfill, but most of it was the animal waste and landscape. Of the stuff in the trashcan, only 31% was diverted in FY14.

However, what did go to the landfill is making fewer emissions than before. As garbage decomposes, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Some landfills, like the one in Danville that our campus uses, captures this methane and burns it for energy. Even though we sent 14% more trash to landfill in FY14 than in FY08, it still registered as an emissions decrease.

Although there are many campus programs working to decrease our municipal solid waste (trayless dining halls, zero-waste sporting events, nitrile glove recycling, lab chemical reuse program), there is certainly room for improvement. For example, in FY13, 71% of paper used had no recycled content, and while campus does have procrument codes, they go unenforced where environmental products are concerned.

Goals: Because efforts to increase recycling and reduce waste fall mostly to individuals, campus must create a comprehensive Zero Waste Program to raise awareness, effect behavior change, and enforce policies for purchasing environmentally friendly products.


  1. By FY17, environmental standards will be applied to purchases of office paper, cleaning products, computers, other electronics, and freight/package delivery services. At least 50% of purchases in these categories will meet campus standards by FY20, and 75% by FY25.
  2. Reduce MSW going to landfills. Campus will increase the diversion rate of MSW to 45% by FY20, 60% by FY25, and 80% by FY35, while also increasing the total diversion rate to 90% by FY20 and 95% by FY25. MSW sent to landfills should decline to 2,000 tons annually by 2035.
    • Reduce nondurable (use once and throw away) purchases.
    • Reuse materials.
    • Raise recycling rates across campus with awareness created by waste characterization studies, events, and information campaigns.
    • Increase availability and visibility of recycling bins. » Expand recycling categories (glass, Styrofoam, etc.)
    • Require recycling of construction and demolition material (a component of LEED ® certification).
  3. Utilize landfills with methane capture.
  4. Appropriately staff Zero Waste efforts through the hiring of a full-time Zero Waste Coordinator