Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.78
Liaison Greg Farley
Submission Date Sept. 9, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Mason University
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.92 / 5.00 Tyler Orton
Projects Innovation Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 819.37 Tons 697.01 Tons
Materials composted 1.11 Tons 45.48 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 4.83 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 4,311.31 Tons 5,126.13 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 6,023 4,996
Number of residential employees 103 0
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 27,424 22,430
Full-time equivalent of employees 4,348.40 3,767.30
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 Jan. 1, 2013 Dec. 31, 2013
Baseline Year Jan. 1, 2009 Jan. 1, 2009

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

The baseline year was adopted based on it being Mason's peak year for waste production.


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

In order to measure the success of our recycling initiatives, Mason does multiple waste audits per year. This year we completed waste audits to determine the ongoing success of a new recycling process that was implemented in the summer of 2012. These waste audits are often completed as a partnership between multiple departments on campus, such as housekeeping and the Green Patriot student group.


A brief description of any institutional procurement policies designed to prevent waste:
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A brief description of any surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

George Mason University (Mason) collects surplus equipment and furniture from departments all over campus. Reusable equipment and furniture are stored at the warehouse to be redistributed to any Mason departments. After a period of time, the items get auctioned and the proceeds go to the state.


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

George Mason University (Mason) is a state institution of higher education within Virginia. As such, Mason follows and implements executive orders enacted by the Governor of Virginia. Within Virginia Executive Order 19 (2010) it states Virginia’s government must set the example in its use of all resources. Every effort should be made for publications of the executive branch agencies and institutions to be published in electronic form only, unless there is a statutory or regulatory requirement to the contrary, or a substantial portion of the intended recipients of the publication cannot be reached electronically. Many professors have started adopting paperless courses that use online resources like blackboard rather than brining printed materials to class.


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

In the last few years, George Mason University's Print Services eliminated the ability for students, faculty, and staff to use printers for free on campus, and started charging for paper. As a result, paper usage plummeted within the year this change took place.


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

In order to facilitate waste reduction at George Mason University (Mason), the Office of Community Relations, in collaboration with the Office of Recycling and Waste Management, instituted an end-of-year move-out recycling program in 2007 called Patriot Pack Out. Through this streamlined, low cost, volunteer outreach program, resident students who are leaving for the summer are encouraged to conveniently donate unwanted clothes and appliances, as well as unopened food items, which are delivered to charities benefitting our local community. In the past, these items would have just been left behind in the residence halls for university waste management staff to clear, attempt to separate, and haul to appropriate locations.

In 2014, Mason collected a total of 9,660 pounds of recyclable materials from the Patriot Pack Out Program. From this collection, the university donated 1,004 pounds of food to Food for Others. It has been estimated that 1 pound of food = 1 meal. The university also donated 8,656 pounds of clothing and small appliances to the Clock Tower Thrift Shop in Falls Church, which benefits Northern Virginia Family Services (NVFS). The Director of Business Services for NVFS estimates a revenue value of $33,994 toward their programs benefitting Fairfax County families.


A brief description of any other (non-food) waste minimization strategies employed by the institution:
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A brief description of any food waste audits employed by the institution:
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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:
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A brief description of programs and/or practices to track and reduce post-consumer food waste:

At George Mason University (Mason), trayless dining is implemented in all dining facilities. Trays are only available for students, staff and faculty with disabilities or special needs.


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):

Launched in Fall of 2012 the Choose to Reuse program offers reusable to-go containers to Mason affiliates for a one time fee of $7 (the equivalent of one meal swipe). Once a member of the program, the users receive a membership card that they trade in for the reusable container each time they buy a meal. Once the containers have been used they are returned to cashiers in the main dining area. The containers are then sterilized and redistributed to be reused.


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):

At Southside, Mason's largest dining hall, all flatware as well as plates and bowls are reusable and are washed with a high efficiency dishwashing system.


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:

George Mason University (Mason) gives discounts from 10 cents to 60 cents at various food establishments on campus for customers that use reusable mugs. Mason also designed and sold a plastic hot-holding travel mug and a cold beverage mug. Customers who use these “Greening Mason” mugs can refill any beverage for $1.19.

In addition, to discourage disposable cups from being used for water, guests are charged a 30 cent fee for their purchase.


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

Through the use of a SOMAT food waste Pulper and Dehydrator system at Mason Dining's Southside location they effectively take the raw food waste that we produce daily, approximately 450 lbs, and reduce the volume and weight by almost 80-90% so it can be more easily transported and disposed of. The remaining material is an organically-potent, shredded, powdery-dry & sterile substance the makes a perfect addition to any composting or mulching effort.


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

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.