Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 81.82
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Feb. 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Green Mountain College
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.73 / 8.00 Ryan Ihrke
Director of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 38.15 Tons 11.20 Tons
Materials composted 57.49 Tons 3 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 3.58 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 81.12 Tons 187 Tons
Total waste generated 180.34 Tons 201.20 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility, including affirmation that materials are sorted prior to conversion to recover recyclables and compostable materials:

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017
Baseline Year July 1, 2004 June 30, 2005

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted (e.g. in sustainability plans and policies or in the context of other reporting obligations):

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.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 394 449
Number of employees resident on-site 12 5
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 7 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 740 617
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 167.20 160.20
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 266 0
Weighted campus users 589.40 696.40

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.31 Tons 0.29 Tons

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

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

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

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

A brief description of other materials the institution has recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold:

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 38.81 tons in FY 2017) 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. The ash that is cleaned out of the smokestack is contaminated with oil residue so it is landfilled through the waste company.

Materials intended for disposal but subsequently recovered and reused on campus, performance year (e.g. materials that are actively diverted from the landfill or incinerator and refurbished/repurposed) :
1.76 Tons

Does the institution use single stream recycling (a single container for commingled recyclables) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:

Does the institution use dual stream (two separate containers for recyclables, e.g. one for paper and another for plastic, glass, and metals) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling (multiple containers that further separate different types of materials) to collect standard recyclables (i.e. paper, plastic, glass, metals) in common areas?:

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program (percentage, 0-100):

A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed, e.g. efforts to minimize contamination and/or monitor the discard rates of the materials recovery facilities and mills to which materials are diverted:

A percentage of contamination has not be provided by our materials recovery facility, but in conversation with our account manager, they indicate our contamination rate is low and not a concern for their facility.

A team seven student waste diversion specialists collects recycling five days per week. When picking up the recycling outside of the halls in the morning, students look at the clear landfill bags and if a significant amount of recycling is in the landfill bags, they collect these bags as well. When transferring the recycling bags into the recycling trailer, they open each bag. If they find large or significant amounts of non-recyclable materials during this transfer, they take these items to the adjacent landfill compactor. They also scan the recycling trailer and remove any unauthorized dumping of landfill materials in the the unit.

A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives, e.g. initiatives to shift individual attitudes and practices such as signage and competitions:

During the fall 2016 semester, the sustainability office hosted an educational programs on waste management including the Three Bin Challenge during student orientation and the Zero-Wasting event in December.

The Three Bin Challenge provided students with a collection of items to dispose in a three bin system the College uses to collect waste. Students were educated on the different types of waste that is recyclable and compostable at the College and all participants earned a chance to win a gift certificate to the local food coop.

The Zero Wasting event highlighted the results of the semester-long waste audit and offered college community members solutions to reduce the amount of recyclable and compostable items being placed in the landfill bins. A art station was set up for students to customize personal recycle and compost bins for them to keep in their rooms. Information was provided on zero waste feminine hygiene products and bulk purchasing options in the surrounding community.

An additional initiative launched during the fall 2016 semester was encouraging the use of reusable hand towels as opposed to single use paper-towels when drying hands in the bathroom. Interested students signed a commitment to limit their paper towel use and were provided towels created out of t-shirts donated to the campus Freestore.

A brief description of the institution's waste audits and other initiatives to assess its materials management efforts and identify areas for improvement:

During 2016's fall semester an audit of the landfill bags for the whole campus was conducted one day each month. The sort were conducted outside in front of the student center and passers-by are encouraged to participate.

The audits revealed that only 30%(by weight) of the waste in the landfill bags was landfill material. The remaining 70% of items was either recyclable, compostable, or could be reused. Compostable items represented the largest amount of items in the landfill bags,, representing and average of 42% of the contents of the landfill bags.

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. In FY 2015, the professor has hired two URAs (undergraduate research assistants) to carry out these audits.

A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste (e.g. by minimizing packaging and purchasing in bulk):

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. When office supplies are not available at the Freepo, employees must make a request for purchasing items through centralized offices to better control the amount of items purchased and encourage bulk purchases.

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, the dining service began offering reusable to-go-containers. All new students since Fall of 2014 aer given a free to-go container during orientation and current students were able to buy a to-go container for a one-time charge of $6.50. After the purchase, 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 the institution's surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

Green Mountain College offers a Freepo full of used office supplies in the basement of the administrative building, Pollock. The store is free to members of the GMC community and accept donations of second-hand items and is stocked regularly from free boxes that are located all around campus. Sustainability office workers collect these boxes when they get full and stock them in the store.

A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse (e.g. of electronics, furnishings, books and other goods):

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. Like the Freepo, the Freestore is free to members of the GMC community and accept donations of second-hand items. The stores are stocked regularly from free boxes located across campus, including one box on each floor in the residence halls. The student workers keep the stores organized and market them using Facebook and Twitter. T-shirts from the Freestore are re-purposed for Sustainability Office uniforms by turning the shirts inside-out and printing a logo for the office on the shirt.

A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption (e.g. restricting free printing and/or mandating doubled-sided printing in libraries and computer labs):

The Sustainability Office and Computer and Technology Services have held a series of meetings in 2016 to work towards further limiting the paper and ink consumption at Green Mountain College. Actions to address paper and ink usage have included:
-A campus-wide e-mail from the director of sustainability identifying current paper usage, what it equals to in trees and carbon emissions, and suggestions on how to reduce paper usage.
- Purchase and installation of printing software on the campus network that tracks printing, sets print job page limits, communicates total pages printed compared to average use over semester or year time-spans, set's double-sided default printing and can limit overall printing per specified time-span.
-Limit access to printing that isn't connected to an individual account to better track individual usage.
-Provide information to students and employees about training resources available for reducing paper in classes

Additional initiatives at the College in recent years have included:
-Providing tablets to faculty to reduce their dependence on hard-copy documents and note-taking for meetings and classes.
-Restricting the purchase of personal printers and printer supplies with College budgets to encourage the use of more efficient network printers.

A brief description of the institution's initiatives to make materials (e.g. course catalogs, course schedules, and directories) available online by default rather than printing them:

Most campus communications are exclusively online. The course catalog and schedules are provided online and no physical copies are printed. The new employee guide to the College is also available exclusively online.

In 2014, Admissions modified their communication plan for incomplete and complete applicants to eliminate more paper- routine correspondence is communicated electronically. There are still some communications -- acceptance letters, change of status (transfer) and certificates of enrollment--that are send via paper.

A brief description of the institution's program 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 Goodwill thrift sore in Rutland, the Young at Heart Senior Center in Poultney, and the Stone Valley Community Market Food Co-op for sale at the their town-wide yard sale booth. Non-perishable food items are provided to student workers who are residing on campus during the summer.

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 and C & W, our facilities contractor. Generally, between 4,500 lbs-6,000 lbs of material is diverted from the waste stream each year through this program (not including zero-sort recycling and e-waste). In 2017, 4,602 lbs of reusable material was diverted.

A brief description of the institution's programs or initiatives to recover and reuse other materials intended for disposal:

When construction or office relocation projects happen across campus, departments and facilities staff communicate about items no-longer needed or being removed. Examples include office and student desks and lockers from a remodel in our athletic center. The sustainability office also communicates with artists who re-purpose items and local furniture re-sellers and re-finishers who collect and repair items for their business.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Performance year for waste totals is FY 2017. 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. Active recover and reuse numbers include material diverted to our two free reuse stores on campus and refrigerators held by facilities for replacement in student hubs. Materials donated or re-sold includes material collected during the year and at Green Move out and donated to charities as well as food recovered and served at community meals. Recycling numbers include zero-sort recycling, cardboard recycling, and metal recycling.

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.