Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 75.35
Liaison Megan Litke
Submission Date March 30, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

American University
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.98 / 5.00 Helen Lee
Sustaianbility Programs Intern
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 308.86 Tons 823.50 Tons
Materials composted 574.14 Tons 0 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 24.05 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 1,245 Tons 1,096.35 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 3,993 3,200
Number of residential employees 16 0
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 12,011 10,000
Full-time equivalent of employees 2,814 2,500
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 0 0

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year May 1, 2014 April 30, 2015
Baseline Year Jan. 1, 2005 Dec. 31, 2005

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted:

The waste generation baseline was adopted in calendar year 2005 and was chosen based on the data available.

A brief description of any (non-food) waste audits employed by the institution:

Waste audits are conducted throughout campus in administrative, academic, and residential buildings. Waste from buildings are collected over a 24 hour period and audited by students and AU employees. Audits have shown that almost 45% of campus waste is organic and can be composted or digested. The other 45% of campus waste is recyclable and the final 10% is not recyclable or compostable.

A brief description of any institutional procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

AU’s Zero Waste Policy calls for the university to strive for zero waste sent to landfills and incineration through refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost efforts.

A brief description of any surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

The university reuses and recycles surplus furniture by partnering with several area surplus and reuse centers.

A brief description of the institution's efforts to make materials available online by default rather than printing them:

To reduce the amount of paper used, New Student Programs has eliminated the thousands of informational fliers it previously distributed to freshmen in favor of a digital format. The campus directory is available online and campus members may opt not to choose not to receive a print copy of the annual update.

A brief description of any limits on paper and ink consumption employed by the institution:

Black and white printing is $0.10 per page and color printing is $1.00 per page. Double sided printing is the default in the library and computer labs on campus.

A brief description of any programs employed by the institution to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:

Facilities Management, Office of Sustainability, and Housing and Dining coordinate a move-out program in the residence halls each spring. Clothes, shoes, unopened food, unused toiletries, household items, electronics, textbooks and more are collected, tested, cleaned, and sorted to be sold or donated after student move-out. In the past, we have managed to collect 4 (30yd) pods worth of move-out items. 2 of these pods (6,930 pounds) filled with clothes, shoes, and textiles were sold, donated, or recycled off-campus. In the fall, the Project Move-In sale was implemented where parents and incoming students bought these reusable items for a lower cost and helped divert a significant amount of waste from landfills. Over $5,000 was raised and contributed to the Student Zero Waste Club. This money was used to fund student scholarships for conferences.

A brief description of any other (non-food) waste minimization strategies employed by the institution:

A brief description of any food waste audits employed by the institution:

American University has audited a 34 yd compactor filled with organic waste at the Western Branch Compost Facility. During this audit we found significant contamination and used this audit as a training opportunity for the dining staff involved in waste disposal.

A brief description of any programs and/or practices to track and reduce pre-consumer food waste in the form of kitchen food waste, prep waste and spoilage:

AU Dining uses a a system that forecasts sales, tracks pre-consumer waste by the pound and continually analyzes sales trends for increased accuracy. This system uses the forecasting trends that are generated and then breaks down each recipe to create a very precise order guide for all food products that are needed.

A brief description of programs and/or practices to track and reduce post-consumer food waste:

A survey conducted in 2009 by students in a Seminar in Environmental Issues (ENVS-102) showed that removing cafeteria trays reduced food waste per person by 32%.
As a result of these findings, trays were eliminated in the fall of 2009 in the Terrace Dining Room. In 2011 our Tenley Campus dining room also removed all trays. No trays are used in other food venues or events on campus.

A brief description of the institution's provision of reusable and/or third party certified compostable to-go containers for to-go food and beverage items (in conjunction with a composting program):

All retail dining options use 100% compostable service products such as plates, bowls, cups, utensils and to-go boxes. The dining hall at American University also offers reusable to-go containers that are 100% recyclable.

A brief description of the institution's provision of reusable service ware for “dine in” meals and reusable and/or third party certified compostable service ware for to-go meals (in conjunction with a composting program):

All dining options at American University are 100% tray less to help conserve water from dishwashing.

A brief description of any discounts offered to customers who use reusable containers (e.g. mugs) instead of disposable or compostable containers in to-go food service operations:

The Davenport Lounge in the School of International Service offers a 10 cent discount for anyone filling a reusable mug.

A brief description of other dining services waste minimization programs and initiatives:

American University has a comprehensive waste training initiative, in which staff are trained on proper methods of minimizing waste, and increasing awareness of compostable materials. AU Dining follows the University Zero Waste Initiative by having distinct, separate waste disposals for recyclable, compostable, and landfill waste in our kitchens and dining areas. We also have several educational waste minimization initiatives such as the annual Weigh the Waste event in which students collect food waste from their peers to help raise awareness about food waste.

The website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization initiatives is available:

The waste reduction data was tracked by our Zero Waste Coordinator, Helen Lee, for the 2015 academic year.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.