Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.81 / 5.00 Aaron Witham
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 47.40 Tons 11.20 Tons
Materials composted 43.30 Tons 3 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 3.10 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 147.30 Tons 187 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 540 449
Number of residential employees 5 5
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 799 617
Full-time equivalent of employees 198.60 160.20
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 173 0

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2012 June 30, 2013
Baseline Year July 1, 2004 June 30, 2005

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

FY 2005 is the earliest data set we have that includes compost and recycling numbers for comparison. We cannot use FY 2007 as the baseline as we have for other credits because we don't have waste data from that year.


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

Multiple waste audits are performed throughout the year by two particular groups. A professor in the biology department usually covers solid waste as a component of his class and has his students perform an audit of every bag coming out of the residence halls on particular days of the week. Each bag is weighed and the estimated percentage of garbage, paper, tissue paper, and bottles/cans is recorded. This was done in the fall and the spring of FY 2013. In FY 2015, the professor will have his two URAs (undergraduate research assistants) carry out the audits. Additionally, the sustainability office does a smaller scale audit for the dual purpose of collecting data and making waste visible. The sort is done outside in front of the student center and passers-by are encouraged to participate. The most recent sustainability office audit was done in the fall of 2013. It examined a sample of one bag from every residence hall, as well as the student center. Results suggested that only 26.7% of the waste found in bags (by weight) should actually go to the landfill. The rest could be diverted with better education and collection systems.


A brief description of any institutional procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

The office of student involvement and the sustainability office run a program called Event Certification, where student clubs can apply for a certification similar to LEED that applies to their event. A large portion of the points are allocated based on students designing their event to minimize the creation of waste. They can get points for minimizing what they purchase, only purchasing items that can be recycled, and providing well marked recycling/composting receptacles at their events. The applications are reviewed by members of the student involvement and sustainability office, recommendations are made to improve the environmental impact of the events, and then students are awarded certification which allows them to use a logo on all marketing material with their level of rating. To aid the program, the sustainability office rents out reusable plates and bowls to student clubs for free.

Employees are strongly encouraged to obtain office supplies from the campus Freepo when they need anything rather than purchase new supplies. New hires receive information about the Freepo and other sustainability services in the online packet they are offered to help them navigate the campus.

Chartwells (dining services) purchases "compostable" dinnerware for all special events, for which reusable dinnerware is difficult to use. These are generally not composted on campus, but they will break down faster in the landfill stream than traditional disposable ware. In 2014, Chartwells began offering reusable to-go-containers, which can be purchased for a one-time charge of $6.50. After the purchases, students, staff, and faculty can turn in a plastic card and get the reusable container and then dropped it off when they are done, at which point they'll be given a card again.


A brief description of any surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

GMC offers a Freestore of reclaimed items in the basement of the Withey student center. Students, staff, and faculty can "shop" at the Freestore Monday through Friday. GMC also offers a Freepo full of used office supplies in the basement of the administrative building, Pollock. Both stores are free to members of the GMC community and accept donations of second-hand items. The stores are stocked regularly from free boxes that are located all around campus (one on each floor in the residence halls). Sustainability office workers collect these boxes when they get full and stock them in the store. They also keep the stores organized and market them using Facebook and Twitter. See the Free at GMC Facebook page for an example: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-At-GMC/304499169664558.


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

The course catalog is now provided online by default, with the exception of 100 copies printed for faculty. The new employee guide to the College is also available exclusively online. As of 2014, the bi-annual IR report is exclusively online. The green guide is also almost exclusively available online except for a handful of copies that are printed to display at orientation, so that students will be curious to check out the online version.


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

Since 2011, the communications office stopped printing the academic catalog with the exception of 100 copies for faculty; catalog distribution is now entirely online. In 2014, the College distributed the bi-annual institutional report (IR) electronically instead of printing it. The communications office also uses electronic "flipbook" software to share periodicals like the Bulletin, the AR online, and the Green Guide without having to print as many copies; in fact, this effort has reduced printing from approximately 7,000 to 4,000 per year.


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

Each May, the Green Move Out program at GMC diverts reusable items from the landfill that students dispose of when moving out of the residence halls. A team of over ten volunteers and sustainability office staff works during the last week of finals through the day after commencement on this project. Signs and emails advertise the event in the residence halls the week before students begin to vacate the campus for the summer break. Students are encouraged to bring unbroken, working and pre-owned items to designated areas in the first-floor lounges of their residence halls.

Many students also leave a number of items in the hubs of each floor (where recycling bins and compost bins are located). The Green Move Out Team moves usable items that could be donated/saved down to the lounges the week of move-out. “Lounge Shopping” is advertised among the campus community during the week prior to graduation. Most undergraduates move out during this week. A number of faculty, staff and other students take advantage of this opportunity to take unwanted items. Thousands of pounds of clothing, furnishing, bedding, appliances, etc. are taken to new homes.

Before Commencement, the Green Move Out Team bags up unwanted clothes and bedding and donates them to local charities such as the Poultney thrift store, the Rutland Women’s Shelter, the Salvation Army and the Rutland Area Humane Society (all items go through quality control to ensure cleanliness and usability). Non-perishable food items are donated to the Poultney Food Shelf.

Other reusable items are placed in storage closets, the Free Store, and the Freepo to be given away to new students in the fall. Volunteers are allowed to move back into the residence halls a few days early to help facilitate this Green Move-In Sale during Orientation. E-waste is also collected, stored in a special e-waste storage area, and then later recycled.

This project is sponsored by the sustainability office in collaboration with the office of residence life. Generally, over 5,000 lbs of material is diverted from the waste stream each year through this program (not including zero-sort recycling and e-waste). In 2013 5,322 lbs of reusable material was diverted, and in 2014 it was 5,982 lbs.


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

The sustainability office puts Terra-cycle and grocery bag collection boxes in all of the residence halls to supplement zero-sort recycling bins, compost bins, freestore boxes, freepo boxes, and e-waste bins. Both the Terra-cycle and grocery bag bins are collected by sustainability office staff and shipped to recycling facilities.


A brief description of any food waste audits employed by the institution:

The waste diversion crew that works for the sustainability office collects data daily on the weight of post-consumer food waste and notes particularly wasteful trends.


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:

As a matter of practice the cooks try to minimize waste by buying appropriate amounts, making stock out of vegetable scraps, and donating perishable food to donation centers at the end of the semesters and before breaks. The sustainability office estimates daily amounts of pre-consumer food waste as a function of post-consumer food waste based on a statistical formula developed after a semester of weighing both waste streams.


A brief description of programs and/or practices to track and reduce post-consumer food waste:

The waste diversion crew that works for the sustainability office collects data daily on the weight of post-consumer food waste and notes particularly wasteful trends.


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):

Dining services used compostable Greenware to-go containers in 2013. The containers were manufactured by both Fabri-Kal & Pactiv and could be composted in the composting system on campus. In 2014, a student projected helped launch a reusable to-go container program. Now students, staff, and faculty pay an up front cost of $6.50 in return for unlimited use of a reusable to-go container, which can be returned and washed by the dining hall. Participants have a plastic card that shows they are in the program.


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):

China serviceware is utilized for dine in use in the dining hall. Take-out containers are available as well for us in the dining hall and are made of reusable plastic as described above. Additionally, reusable plastic baskets are used in the retail location ("The Butter"). These baskets are washed and sanitized in house for reuse.


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:

Customers utilizing reusable mugs may purchase a refill of coffee at the 12oz price regardless of the size of their mug.


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

Project Green Plate: students are encouraged to take only the food that they will eat and reduce the amount of waste.

Trayless Dining: students only take what they can carry and no longer fill their trays with items that will ultimately be wasted. Dining services also saves on water, labor and power by not having to clean the extensive amount of trays that would be needed for service if they were to be included in the program.

Project Green Thumb-encourages recycling and composting in kitchen and prep areas. Bins are provided in the kitchen for the recycling of all packaging as well as for compost.


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

Performance year is FY 2013. The numbers of waste generation include the Poultney and Killington campuses. Compost numbers include compostable food scraps that are composted on the campus farm and uncontaminated ash from the biomass plant that has a similar fate in that it becomes part of the working landscape (The ash is donated to a local farmer who spreads it on his fields to "sweeten" the soil or raise the pH). We include it under waste diversion because we also count the portion of it that is landfilled when it is removed from the smoke stack and contaminated with oil residue. Reuse numbers include material diverted to our two free reuse stores on campus, as well as material donated to charities during Green Move Out. Recycling numbers include zero-sort recycling, cardboard recycling, e-waste recycling, metal recycling, and construction/demolition recycling. GMC also diverts plastic grocery bags and items that can be shipped to Terra Cycle, but those items are not weighed at this time because they are generally very light in comparison to other waste streams. Therefore, diverted grocery bags and Terra Cycle items are not reported here.

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.