Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.10
Liaison Stephen Ellis
Submission Date June 9, 2023

STARS v2.2

Boston University
OP-18: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 5.61 / 8.00 Stephen Ellis
Director, Data Analytics
BU Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 1,835 Tons 361 Tons
Materials composted 1,127 Tons 0 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 92 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 3,233 Tons 10,600 Tons
Total waste generated 6,287 Tons 10,961 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility:


Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Period July 1, 2021 June 30, 2022
Baseline Period Jan. 1, 2005 Dec. 31, 2006

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

Boston University has adopted FY2006 as the baseline year for all operations metrics for sustainability. In 2006 a waste audit was conducted on the larger, Charles River Campus which provided the recycling quantity for the baseline year. No waste data was recorded on the Medical Campus until 2008, so the best estimate of the total waste incinerated for the University assumes the 2008 Medical Campus incinerated waste value for 2006. These 962 tons are added to the Charles River Campus total incinerated waste to provide a more accurate, though estimated total. We do know that nothing was recycled on the Medical Campus in 2006.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 11,158 11,185
Number of employees resident on-site 150 181
Number of other individuals resident on-site 0 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 29,594 24,623
Full-time equivalent of employees 9,581 8,439
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 1,529 1,605
Weighted campus users 31,061.50 26,434.25

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.20 Tons 0.41 Tons

Percentage reduction in total waste generated per weighted campus user from baseline:

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling, performance year:

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator (including up to 10 percent attributable to post-recycling residual conversion):

In the waste figures reported above, has the institution recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold the following materials?:
Yes or No
Paper, plastics, glass, metals, and other recyclable containers Yes
Food Yes
Cooking oil Yes
Plant materials Yes
Animal bedding Yes
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Electronics Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets Yes
Tires No
Other (please specify below) No

A brief description of other materials the institution has recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold:


Materials intended for disposal but subsequently recovered and reused on campus, performance year:

Does the institution use single stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Does the institution use dual stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program:

A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed:

A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives:

During first-year student orientation in July and August 2021, Sustainability Ambassadors educated incoming students on Zero Waste at BU. They hosted events and mentioned the university's Zero Waste plan, how to correctly sort, among other things.

During the 2021-2022 academic year, BU Dining’s “Weigh the Waste” events, where student guides measure the amount of plate waste generated during a meal, realized a 26% reduction in food waste compared to the 2018-2019 academic year.

In accordance with the Zero Waste Plan, the University has focused on standardizing and expanding waste infrastructure. This includes launching six new locations for food waste collection, partnering with Catering on the Charles, increasing food waste collection and reduction efforts, and collaborating with Facilities, Management & Operations in transitioning from dual-stream to single-stream recycling.

A brief description of the institution's waste audits and other initiatives to assess its materials management efforts and identify areas for improvement:

Visual audits are conducted on a weekly basis by the Zero Waste Manager.

In FY2022 Boston University and our waste vendor completed 3 waste audits, 2 of these audits focused on a sample of all waste streams generated at two different residential buildings. From their audits, we were able to gather information on materials that the residents were confused about what stream they belong in and also gather information on the need/demand for composting initiatives. The other waste audit looked at the campuswide recycling stream to get an idea of the contamination rate for the entire campus and look for problem items ending up in the recycling that don’t belong.

We also installed Contelligent Fullness Monitors on all of the compactors on campus. In this same time period, we transitioned our operations and material management of almost all of the compactors to rely on this technology creating efficiencies in the hauling process. These monitors have also allowed us to get a better understanding of the movement and generation of material at specific buildings that have helped us better plan for busier times of the year.

Lastly, we completed 2 rounds of right-sizing during this time period to readjust service levels campus wide. During this right-sizing, we were able to make changes to service to capture more recycling, prevent issues of overflowing containers and rodents and also make sure that over serviced locations were reduced to save money while also maintaining the proper level of service.

A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

In November 2021 Boston University launched its Sustainable Procurement Purchasing Program. Boston University strives to be an industry leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving Zero Waste, as outlined in Boston University’s Climate Action Plan and Zero Waste Plan, by embracing best practices for sustainable sourcing and procurement of goods and services.

URL: https://www.bu.edu/sourcing/diversity-sustainability/sustainable-purchasing/

A brief description of the institution's surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:


A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse:

Thanks to a collaboration between Olympia Moving & Storage, Institutional Recycling Network (IRN), Sourcing & Procurement, and BU Sustainability, University departments can browse available surplus or remanufactured furniture or donate gently used furniture for reuse within BU. Launched in August 2018, this program provides Boston University departments with a convenient and cost effective option for outfitting spaces, all while reusing furniture before purchasing new. Planning has begun for the implementation of a Zero Waste Plan initiative that calls for a platform to be created enabling material exchange for all staff, faculty, and students.

A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption:

In 2009, Boston University enacted a printing quota for all students (MyPrint). Every undergraduate student is allocated 100 sheets per semester and graduate students are allocated 500 sheets per semester. Faculty and staff are allocated a limited number of pages as well if they choose to use printers with MyPrint system. Double-sided printing is available at all on-campus print center locations. Print allocations are reset each semester and there is a fee for each page that exceeds the allocated limit.

URL: http://www.bu.edu/tech/services/cccs/printing/myprint/

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

All course catalogs, course schedules, and directories are only available online. These documents are no longer printed. During the pandemic, IS&T provided support on transitioning paper processes to electronic workflows.

URL: http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/course-search/

A brief description of the institution's program to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:

Boston University has partnered with Goodwill Industries to reduce waste during move-out since 2010, through a move-out program called "Goodwill, Not Landfill". The move-out program gives students the opportunity to donate unwanted goods to Goodwill during the last month of the academic year. Goodwill collects clothing and other goods from each location and then sells those items in stores to support important local job training and youth programs.

The Goodwill, Not Landfill move-out program diverted 92 tons from landfills in FY22. Overall, the program has diverted 840 tons of clothing, electronics, and housewares from the landfill.

During move-in, Scarlet Squad volunteers are trained to guide incoming students and families in recycling cardboard. Scarlet Squad promotes sustainability, assists the Orientation office by helping students and guests navigate campus, and creates a welcoming environment. Scarlet Squad volunteers also work as ambassadors to promote sustainability on campus. Each receives a crash training course from BU Sustainability before Move-in.

Additionally, the University works with its waste hauler partner to set up cardboard recycling corrals in every campus neighborhood, totaling more than 25 locations. These corrals serve as a visual and convenient reminder to students, families, and staff that cardboard diversion is important. The hauler is able to collect a very clean stream of material for diversion.

A brief description of the institution's programs or initiatives to recover and reuse other materials intended for disposal:

All mattresses, mixed electronics, bulbs/ballasts, and batteries are collected and recycled. Styrofoam is collected and recycled from the Medical Campus. A food waste collection pilot was implemented in FY22 for residents of Warren Towers and West Campus, including 1019 Commonwealth Ave.

Website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization and diversion efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

This represents FY2022 BU Metrics.

While figures entered for the "Weighted Campus Users" calculations are from FY06, BU Sustainability was only able to collect CY06 data for "waste generated." Because both are 12-month time periods and share a 6-month overlap, we regard them as comparable.


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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.