Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date Aug. 29, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Columbia University
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.65 / 8.00 Helen Bielak
Operations Manager
Environmental Stewardship, Columbia University Facilities and Operations
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 600.25 Tons 398.86 Tons
Materials composted 78 Tons 9.50 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 208.99 Tons 88.88 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 3,228.94 Tons 2,585.60 Tons
Total waste generated 4,116.18 Tons 3,082.84 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility, including affirmation that materials are sorted prior to conversion to recover recyclables and compostable materials:

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year Jan. 1, 2017 Dec. 31, 2017
Baseline Year Jan. 1, 2014 Dec. 31, 2014

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted (e.g. in sustainability plans and policies or in the context of other reporting obligations):
This is the earliest year for which we have data to report.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 11,341 11,039
Number of employees resident on-site 1,559 1,523
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 0 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 23,716 24,921
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 11,756 18,379
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 287 793
Weighted campus users 29,613.75 35,020.75

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.14 Tons 0.09 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
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets Yes
Tires Yes
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 (e.g. materials that are actively diverted from the landfill or incinerator and refurbished/repurposed) :
887.24 Tons

Does the institution use single stream recycling (a single container for commingled recyclables) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:

Does the institution use dual stream (two separate containers for recyclables, e.g. one for paper and another for plastic, glass, and metals) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling (multiple containers that further separate different types of materials) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program (percentage, 0-100):

A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed, e.g. efforts to minimize contamination and/or monitor the discard rates of the materials recovery facilities and mills to which materials are diverted:

A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives, e.g. initiatives to shift individual attitudes and practices such as signage and competitions:
As per the newly-launched Sustainability Plan, the University has created a centralized inventory of all waste-related information and calculated the University’s first diversion rate. Additionally, behavior-change work through the Sustainable Leaders Network has resulted in waste reduction at the individual school level.

A brief description of the institution's waste audits and other initiatives to assess its materials management efforts and identify areas for improvement:
A Recycling Improvement Working Group was organized to analyze recycling behaviors in one first year & one senior residence halls. Waste Audits were conducted, dedicated recycling rooms were built, new color-coded receptacles were purchased and staged and new signage from The New York City Department of Sanitation was placed.

A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste (e.g. by minimizing packaging and purchasing in bulk):
Sustainability Directive: Storeroom Solutions is committed to supporting environmental initiatives that reduces impact on the environment. To this end, all purchasing personnel are directed to: 1. Identify and present to environmentally friendly materials which provide equivalent service and performance 2. Develop supply base that embraces “green” not only in their products but also in their operation and culture 3. Provide quarterly reporting on sustainability initiatives including actual dollars spend

A brief description of the institution's surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:
Surplus Reuse when possible is used on campus or given to schools or local non-profit organizations with priority to organizations affiliated with Columbia Community Service. Whatever remains unclaimed goes to the Build It Green, NYC Waste Match program, which includes non-profits in the other four boroughs. Columbia also partners with the Institutional Recycling Network (IRN) where changed out dorm furniture and used equipment – like kitchen equipment is given. In the past equipment has gone to several countries in the Caribbean and to disaster relief in Haiti. More information is on the Columbia Housing, Dining and Environmental Stewardship website. Additionally, the Work/Life bulletin board, similar to an internal Craigslist, allows Columbia staff, faculty, and students to post personal household and office items to buy, sell, swap or reuse. The undergraduate EcoReps program partners with Facilities and Housing for Give and Go Green and Facilities hosts Clean and Go Green.

A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse (e.g. of electronics, furnishings, books and other goods):
Columbia University Facilities partners with Undergraduate Housing, Environmental Health & Safety, Environmental Stewardship, and Eco-Reps twice per year to make dumpsters and paper-shredders available across campus for the disposal of sensitive files and large office items. Facilities then properly separates items, recycling and donating them wherever possible. Columbia’s ReUse Program provides the University and local community with access to a network that allows you to exchange University-owned office furniture and other items among colleagues. This program supports the University’s goal to minimize waste by diverting from landfill. The program is a collaboration between the Office of Environmental Stewardship, department administrators across campus, Columbia Community Service, and Facilities & Operations. URLs with more information: https://sustainable.columbia.edu/content/clean-go-green http://facilities.columbia.edu/clean-go-green https://sustainable.columbia.edu/content/reuse-program

A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption (e.g. restricting free printing and/or mandating doubled-sided printing in libraries and computer labs):
Students, faculty, instructors, and others have a weekly print quota which varies by affiliation. (See the website for details). In addition, all printing is duplex/double-sided by default to reduce paper waste. A locally-developed print queue management system called NINJA that has a queue management workstation at each public printer is used to reduce overprinting. Print jobs are not released for printing until the user logs in at the workstation with their University network ID and password. Thus, unclaimed print jobs are never printed. Also, a quota system is implemented to limit usage. Users needing additional printing have the option of paying online to add pages to their quota. All NINJA printers and their queue management workstations are configured for maximum standby energy savings and to print duplex by default.

A brief description of the institution's initiatives to make materials (e.g. course catalogs, course schedules, and directories) available online by default rather than printing them:
Course catalogs, schedules, and directories are available only online with only some hard copy catalogs may be available by request. The URL below has links to the academic calendars, course management system, and Directory of Classes/course catalog.

A brief description of the institution's program to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:
Give and Go Green-Eco-Reps, in conjunction with Columbia Housing, have organized a campaign during spring move-out to help make donating stuff to local charities easy during Move-Out. Unwanted items are brought to a drop-off location instead of throwing them in the trash. Items to Donate: Non-perishable food, clothing in good condition, kitchenware, appliances, linens, accessories, books, small furniture, computers, toiletries Supporting Local Charities: Salvation Army, City Harvest, Per Scholas, Goodwill, St. John the Divine and the Broadway Community, Inc. and more! Students are also directed to a link on Green Check-Out tips that cover tips for move out to help reduce their environmental impact and reduce move out stress in the process. Storage, Packing Materials, Craigslist, Packing, and Item recycling and donation. Hosted by Facilities, Clean and Go Green is offered during winter move-out and over the summer for all faculty, staff and students. Similar to Give and GO Green drop-off locations are designated for the recycling and donating of the items listed above but is expanded to include: Reuse/Donation: • Clothing • Textiles & Linens • Non-perishable Food • Coats • Shoes • Books • Small Household Items • Newer, working Electronic Equipment Recycling: • Furniture • Non-working Computer Monitors, Keyboards and CPUs (please clean your hard drive prior to drop-off) • Paper/Cardboard • Batteries • Non-working Electronic Equipment • Non-working Desk Lamps • Toner Cartridges • Paint Cans Refashion NYC textile recycling bins are provided in several University apartment buildings for faculty, staff and graduate students with signs on bins, buildings, and notes to all tenants to use the bins especially during move-out Additional information Guide to Green Living: http://housingservices.columbia.edu/files/housingservices/other/green_living.pdf Green Check-Out http://housingservices.columbia.edu/content/green-check-out Clean and Go Green for Graduate housing and off-campus undergraduates: http://facilities.columbia.edu/clean-go-green

A brief description of the institution's programs or initiatives to recover and reuse other materials intended for disposal:
“Recycling Makeover” is a recycling education /recycling consolidation initiative focusing on administration work space and recycling behavior. By removing desk side waste receptacles creating central waste and recycling stations the university hopes to increase recycling numbers.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
Tonnage numbers are estimates based on the best available information provided by the city of NY for average waste and recycling Collection Methods The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) picks up the majority of Columbia’s waste and recycling through a collection system on the Morningside Campus and for all residential buildings at CUMC. All buildings within the Morningside Campus enclosure bring waste, plastic, glass, metal, paper, and some cardboard to a centralized location where the DSNY picks it up. LDEO hauls their recycling to the Rockland County Solid Waste recycling center. *Columbia University Medical Center values are included below, to supplement the main submission for Morningside campus. CUMC's parameters are not included in the main area tally because the GHG emissions baseline years are different, therefore we formally report everything quantitative for the Morningside main campus, with the CUMC numbers explained in the public notes section, in order to include this campus in our submission. CUMC statistics: 2011: Trash 1,116.79 tons Recycling: 29.47 tons 2013: Trash 702.02 tons Recycling: 300.85 tons

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.