Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.33
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 1, 2024

STARS v2.2

Cornell University
OP-18: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.81 / 8.00 Spring Buck
R5 Manager
Facilities 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 1,141 Tons 1,835 Tons
Materials composted 4,667 Tons 7,430 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 283 Tons 67 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 2,555 Tons 3,011 Tons
Total waste generated 8,646 Tons 12,343 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility:
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Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Period Jan. 1, 2023 Dec. 31, 2023
Baseline Period Jan. 1, 2013 Dec. 31, 2013

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted:
Metrics Collection in 2013 was improved significantly, making comparisons more relevant.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 8,543 7,447
Number of employees resident on-site 38 35
Number of other individuals resident on-site 403 459
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 25,376 21,424
Full-time equivalent of employees 11,246.50 12,607
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 1,845 0
Weighted campus users 28,631.38 27,852.75

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.30 Tons 0.44 Tons

Percentage reduction in total waste generated per weighted campus user from baseline:
31.86

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling, performance year:
70.45

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator (including up to 10 percent attributable to post-recycling residual conversion):
70.45

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) No
Electronics No
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste No
Scrap metal No
Pallets Yes
Tires Yes
Other (please specify below) Yes

A brief description of other materials the institution has recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold:
Additional items include Used Oil and Glycol recycling.

Materials intended for disposal but subsequently recovered and reused on campus, performance year:
1,206 Tons

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

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

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:
No

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program:
4

A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed:
Custodial teams check for contamination of waste bins prior to placing waste into dumpsters. Cornell compost collecting team checks for contamination of compost prior to accepting it. Additionally, campus single stream recycling is sorted at local county recycle center. County recycle program provides direct feedback on contamination and quality regarding single stream recycling. Feedback is used to focus education and engagement efforts as well as operational efforts.

A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives:
Outreach and education has been a large strategy for waste minimization including but not limited to: Campus Race to Zero Waste(formerly known as Recyclemania); presentations to classes, student clubs, and campus groups; staff trainings and "green office certification" program; engagement with event coordinators in planning for low waste events; mini-bin waste containers broadly implemented across campus; volunteer residence hall compost collection.

A brief description of the institution's waste audits and other initiatives to assess its materials management efforts and identify areas for improvement:
Campus waste collection vendor leadership meets quarterly to review waste collection pain points and opportunities. Campus waste program manager meets bi-monthly with custodial managers and directors where feedback on pain points and opportunities are brought forward. Campus single stream recycling is sorted at local county recycle center. County recycle program provides direct feedback on contamination and quality regarding single stream recycling. Feedback is used to focus education and engagement efforts as well as operational efforts. Additionally, a waste audit of a large administrative facility was performed in 2015 to identify potential impacts of converting campus desk-side landfill bins to "mini-bins" with a centralized self-carry system.

A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste:
https://sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/campus-initiatives/purchasing-waste/sustainable-purchasing

A brief description of the institution's surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:
Cornell University surplus programs are currently decentralized and include the CATS program, the STACS Program, and donations to not for profit groups. The University has a large "Dump and Run" event for reuse of materials at annual move-out. (Metrics from this event not included in STARS report due to lack of consistent data gathering.) Additionally, the University contracts with Sedgwick Business Interiors utilizing their Asset Inventory Management (AIM) program: CATS Program: The Cornell Assets Transfer System (CATS) run by the Division of Financial Affairs - Cost and Capital Assets Department. This system is intended for items with a value exceeding $5,000 (though often used for items under $5,000) and is designed to connect those with available campus assets with those who can put the assets to further use. The Office of Community Relations coordinates equipment requests from the off-campus community where it is appropriate for assets to be gifted to an individual or outside agency. STACS Program: R5 Operations manages both the System for Trade and Auction of Cornell Surplus (STACS) and the Facilities Services Reuse Program. As items are collected for disposal R5 Operations appropriately sorts furniture and office supplies for re-use by University Departments, public auction, and donation to not-for-profit agencies and government agencies. Sedgwick Business Interiors Asset Inventory Management (AIM) program: AIM Program inventories all furniture for an account/project. The Sedgwick project team generates a customized Internet based asset inventory (AIM) list of all items stored. Items cataloged are rated as to their present condition to be used as a reference when items are re-deployed to other areas. AIM allows users to view all reserved, stored products online for future moves and reconfigures, leaving anything un-used stored. By managing active customer inventory, through reliable consistent information, better utilization of assets may be achieved, and less product will be purchased; customer standards may be identified and managed, allowing for reduction in asset levels and customer storage costs. Current accounts/projects on the Cornell campus include those in the College of Human Ecology, the Statler Hotel, Campus Life, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and more. Donations: Donations of Cornell owned items are coordinated by the Department of Community and Government Relations.

A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse:
https://sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/campus-initiatives/purchasing-waste/reuse-recycling

A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption:
There is a cost for all printing at libraries and computer labs. Printing at these facilities is managed through a program named "Net-Print" which allows students, faculty, and staff to create an account, make payments in advance or, for students, be charged monthly on one's University Bursar bill. Costs vary depending on location, paper size and color choice (black and white or color print). In addition to printers, photocopy machines are located in libraries. There is no charge for scanning a document to a flash-drive, or sending a scan of a document to an email account. All printed photocopies incur a cost paid by cash, or with advance purchase of a copy card. Costs vary depending on location, paper size and color choice (black and white or color copy).

A brief description of the institution's initiatives to make materials available online by default rather than printing them:
Cornell has placed its course catalog online for a number of years while reducing the number of paper copies that are printed. As of the 2011-2012 academic year, paper catalogs were eliminated altogether. Users can select pages or sections of the online catalog and turn them into pdf files that they can keep on their computers and/or print themselves. http://courses.cornell.edu/ Cornell has a searchable "course and time roster" posted online. https://classes.cornell.edu/browse/roster/SP20 The university has an online directory that replaced a printed phone book that was discontinued in 2009. http://www.cornell.edu/search/?q=&submit=go&tab=people. All university news media is electronic only.

A brief description of the institution's program to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:
Dump & Run is Cornell’s annual campus-wide waste-reduction and recycling program to reduce move-out waste. Student and staff volunteers collect items students might otherwise throw away when leaving campus in May, sort and organize the collected items over the summer, and resell them at a large community sale when students return in August. Items are collected from both university owned residence halls and apartments, as well privately owned apartments and houses. Items collected include clothing, shoes, organizational units, working appliances and electronics, furniture, sporting items, coat hangers, decorations, new toiletries, non-perishable food, text books, etc. Proceeds from each Dump & Run sale are donated to local nonprofit organizations. This year's sale will benefit Cops, Kids & Toys; Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC); Loaves & Fishes; Shelter Outreach Services, Finger Lakes ReUse, and United Way of Tompkins County. Dump & Run is organized by Cornell students, with support from Campus Life. Cornell's program is modeled after a national program. Visit https://sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/campus-initiatives/materials-management/reuse-recycling/dump-run

A brief description of the institution's programs or initiatives to recover and reuse other materials intended for disposal:
Outreach and education have been a large strategy for waste minimization including but not limited to: Recycle mania; presentations to classes, student clubs, and campus groups; staff trainings; engagement with event coordinators in planning for low waste events.

Website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization and diversion efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
2023 Scrap metal (inclusive of white goods) data captured in OP-19. 2021 - Electronics data captured in OP-20; Scrap metal (inclusive of white goods) data captured in OP-19. Data collection has improved since 2013 is purely that we've gathered more and more data. As waste collection is not fully centralized, and due to the size of the campus, it has taken time to daylight and identify partners who can provide metrics. Examples of added data points since 2013 include cooking oil and formalized reuse programs. That said – please note, unfortunately/fortunately, our diversion rate has gone down. This reduction is due, on the unfortunate side, to a decrease in the types of plastics we can recycle… and on the fortunate side to reduced food waste, reduced wood (pallet) waste, reduced light bulb waste (following large project to re-lamp to LED lighting), and more. Financial data is not accessible due to sealed bids, but we are able to provide detailed waste metrics and supporting documentation.

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.