Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 70.69
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date March 8, 2013
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Cornell University
OP-18: Waste Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.93 / 3.00 Spring Buck
R5 Manager
Facilities Operations
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Materials recycled, composted, reused, donated, re-sold, or otherwise diverted :
5,867.57 Tons

Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator :
3,233.53 Tons

A brief description of programs, policies, infrastructure investments, outreach efforts, and/or other factors that contributed to the diversion rate:

Recycling efforts have a longstanding tradition at Cornell University, and are continuing to grow. In July of 2010 the recycling operation, historically a function of the Grounds Department, became an independent unit in Facilities Operations. This newly minted department is “R5 Operations;” the five R's representing Respect, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
R5 Operations oversees the recycle streams for paper, cardboard, glass, tin, plastic, toners and ink cartridges, CD’s, computers and electronics, waste oil, scrap metal, wood, tires, and refrigerated units. R5 Operations is also working to improve reuse efforts for office supplies, furniture, and other items.
A core purpose for R5 Operations is a commitment to community engagement. In the 2011-2012 academic year they had a presence at new student orientations, hosted an open house, facilitated Cornell’s second year of participation in Recyclemania, celebrated America Recycles Day, hosted an electronic scrap collection event, and tabled a number of events.
Teaming with departments is a key to growing success. Cornell’s Building Care and R5 Operations are worked jointly to transition the campus to a single stream recycling system in the fall of 2011. Cornell’s Campus Mail and R5 Operations work together to offer a battery/CD/toner cartridge collection program with over 100 collection points . More team projects are on the way.
Recyclemania 2012 was Cornell’s second year in the game, and proved to be a wonderful opportunity for collaboration with broad support from student groups representing all undergraduate classes and many graduate programs. Departments all over the campus worked not only to recycle and compost, but to help boost school spirit through communications and event support.
R5 Operations is only one unit working with waste. Positive impacts on the university’s waste stream are broad. To mention only a few efforts: the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) operate the on-campus composting program; initiatives in Cornell Dining reduce food waste through improved preparation practices; policies on LEAD certified construction reduce landfill waste; and reduction of printing and paper use in many departments impact the overall waste stream; the Cornell Waste Management Institute serves the campus and the public through research, outreach, training, and technical assistance, with a focus on organic residuals.


Cornell has a significant, though multifaceted, reuse program. However, weight and quantities of reuse items have not been historically tracked. The reported numbers above to not include reuse data.

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.