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-23: Waste Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.17 / 3.00 Aaron Witham
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Materials diverted from the solid waste landfill or incinerator:
93.80 Tons

Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator :
147.30 Tons

A brief description of programs, policies, infrastructure investments, outreach efforts, and/or other factors that contributed to the diversion rate, including efforts made during the previous three years:

The major waste diversion programs are described below. In addition to these programs, the College also diverts waste from biomass ash, grocery bags, Terra Cycle products, white goods, lab equipment, furniture, cooking oil, metal, construction and demolition projects and other miscellaneous items.

GMC Recycling Program:
The GMC recycling program is directed by the sustainability office. Five waste crew members are responsible for collection of all recyclable items from indoor and outdoor receptacles and then delivery of those items to the central recycling trailer, where it is later picked up by the waste company, Casella. The delivery mechanism is a human-powered bicycle trailer. The recycling crew schedule is coordinated by the sustainability office manager (a student position). Volunteers often help collect recyclables to fulfill service hours that are required by their specialty floors or by disciplinary action. Recycling bins and bicycle trailers are purchased with support from the Student Campus Greening Fund on an as-needed basis. The recycling crew also helps the reuse manager collect material from e-waste collection boxes, grocery bag collection boxes, and Terra Cycle collection boxes.

Green Move Out and Green Move In:
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 (including sustainability office work study students, and other students) 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 during 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. Hundreds 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, 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 Freepo, and the Free Store to be given away/sold 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 IT offices and recycled. This project is sponsored by the Sustainability Office in collaboration with the Office of Residence Life. The effort regularly diverts over 5,000 lbs of reusable material. In 2014, it was 5,982 lbs.

Freestore and Freepo (Reuse stores):
A reuse manager working out of the sustainability office maintains the College’s Freestore and Freepo throughout the year. The Freestore, located in the student center, consists of appliances, clothes, books, and other items diverted from the waste stream via “free boxes” in the residence halls. Any student, staff or faculty member can take what they want from the store. The Freepo, located in the main administrative building, is a similar concept, with a focus on office supplies that are salvaged from campus offices and student donations.

The GMC Compost Program:
This program is directed by the sustainability office in collaboration with Cerridwen Farm. The five-member waste crew is responsible for daily collection of compostable food scraps from the kitchen/dining hall and transportation of this material to Cerridwen Farm on campus. Volunteers are responsible for compost pick-up in the residence halls. The sustainability office engages in educational outreach and volunteer recruitment to promote a culture of ownership over the program among residents. In FY 2015, the sustainability office will begin a transition to a much larger program to collect compost from every location on campus in a regular, systematic way. These programs are described in more detail under "pre-consumer" and "post-consumer" food waste sections below.

E-waste Collection Program:
The sustainability office collaborates with the IT department to collect e-waste from e-waste bins situated in every major building. The e-waste is stored in a vault room in the library and is then recycled every year using a certified e-waste company. The annual e-waste pick-up is carried out during Earth Week and streamlined with a public collection event. Volunteers sit in the student center with a large sign and collect e-waste on the spot, and also answer questions about the topic.


A brief description of any food donation programs employed by the institution:

Typically, at the end of a semester or prior to breaks, dining services donates any perishable food items with a limited shelf life to the Poultney Food Shelf. Additionally, every May the sustainability office's green move out team donates non-perishable items that the students leave behind to the Poultney Food Shelf.


A brief description of any pre-consumer food waste composting program employed by the institution:

The pre-consumer compost program is managed by the sustainability office. Pre-consumer food waste is deposited into compost buckets by Chartwell’s dining hall staff members. These food scraps are collected every evening by members of the sustainability office’s work-study compost crew.

In FY 2013, an estimated 10,602 lbs of pre-consumer food waste was diverted. This estimate is based on a statistical model, which was created from data collected in fall of 2012 for pre-consumer and post-consumer compost scraps. The two streams were weighed all semester and then a linear model was developed illustrating the relationship between the two. They are significantly related, so the sustainability office decided to minimize labor by continuing to weigh post-consumer compost, but estimating pre-consumer weights based on the model.

In the past, pre-consumer food scraps were fed to pigs (when appropriate) and all other food waste was put into an innovative compost pile that was strategically situated below the main chicken coop so that the chickens could eat some of the scraps, while their fecal waste could be added to the pile. The pre-consumer waste fed to the pigs significantly offset the feed grain that needed to be purchased, thus reducing the embodied energy from fossil fuels in the pigs’ food.

However, in the fall of 2013, due to excessive labor and the potential for health issues with the pigs, the College streamlined composting into a window system that does not involve feeding pigs or chickens. Leaves and woodchips from campus operations are mixed in as a source of carbon. Occasionally, animal manures from pigs and cows are also mixed in. The compost crew works closely with the farm manager for direction on compost pile processing.


A brief description of any post-consumer food waste composting program employed by the institution:

The post-consumer compost program is also managed by the sustainability office. The waste diversion crew is responsible for daily collection of post-consumer food scraps from the dining hall and transporting it to Cerridwen Farm on campus to be processed in the windrow system. All post-consumer food scraps are weighed and reported to the sustainability office daily. In FY 2013, 15,545 lbs of post-consumer compostable food scraps were diverted and processed on campus.

Compost collection also takes places in the residence halls on a volunteer basis with bins regulated by the sustainability office. Volunteers apply to have a bin for their floor each semester and sign a form, which outlines responsibilities and serves as a record for who is responsible. The locations of the bins are tracked and if sanitary issues arise, volunteers are given warnings and can ultimately lose the privilege of the bin if improvements are not made. Over FY 2013 and FY 2014, a vermiculture pilot program was tested, where half of the bins issued to students contained worms and bedding to process compost. This system also incorporated shredded office paper that would otherwise be recycled, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the waste disposal process. It was meant to serve as a way to educate students how to compost in an urban environment after they graduate. In FY 2015, the sustainability office will begin transitioning to a much larger collection process, where composting bins will be located in every area of campus.

Finished compost that has been processed on the farm is primarily used by the farm to fertilize vegetable plots and helps produce beautiful vegetables for the campus dining hall, Poultney Farmers’ Market, and CSA shares that are sold to members of the College and surrounding community. Compost from vermiculture bins is used by residence hall volunteers for their personal plants or to take home and give to their families who have gardens. Some of the finished compost may also be given to community members during compost outreach events in the summer where farm workers teach local children how to set up their own vermiculture bins.


Does the institution include the following materials in its waste diversion efforts?:
Yes or No
Paper, plastics, glass, metals, and other recyclable containers Yes
Food donations Yes
Food for animals No
Food composting Yes
Cooking oil Yes
Plant materials composting Yes
Animal bedding composting Yes
Batteries Yes
Light bulbs Yes
Toner/ink-jet cartridges Yes
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets No
Motor oil Yes
Tires Yes

Other materials that the institution includes in its waste diversion efforts:

E-waste is collected regularly through bins all over campus and through a special drop-off event during Earth Week (This is weighed and counted toward waste diversion percentage).

Metal is recycled by facilities (an estimated weight counts toward waste diversion), as well as a large portion of the wood (which is not weighed, estimated, nor counted toward diversion). Big items like furniture are donated to off-campus charity organizations through special trips whenever possible (an estimated weight of this is counted toward diversion).

Uncontaminated ash from the biomass plant (an estimated 30.2 tons in FY 2013) is also diverted from the waste stream by being donated to a local farmer who spreads it on his fields to sweeten his soil. The decision to use the ash for this came from a research project in a chemistry class that weighed the costs and benefits of various options, including making soap, repairing forest soil, and using it for compost. The least energy intensive and most beneficial option was to use it as a soil sweetener for agriculture. Ash is counted toward waste diversion because it is also counted against waste diversion when it is landfilled. Every year, the ash that is cleaned out of the smokestack is contaminated with oil residue so it is landfilled through the waste company. (weighed at 1.3 tons in FY 2013).

Terra-Cycle items and grocery bags in all residence halls are also recycled, but they are currently not weighed or counted toward the waste diversion number because their weight is minimal.


Performance year for the waste diversion rate is FY 2013, the most recent waste data available.

All cooking oil from dining services is recycled by Buffalo Bio Diesel, Inc.

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.