Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.17
Liaison Toby Cain
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Luther College
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.52 / 8.00 Toby Cain
Sustainability Coordinator
Center for Sustainable Communities
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 328.70 Tons 133 Tons
Materials composted 60 Tons 6.72 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 6.50 Tons 1 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 418 Tons 631 Tons
Total waste generated 813.20 Tons 771.72 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 June 1, 2017 May 31, 2018
Baseline Year June 1, 2003 May 31, 2004

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):

We chose 2003-2004 as our baseline year, despite the fact that waste was oddly high in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. We threw those numbers out and chose 631 tons from 2003-2004 as a reasonable peak. This year also aligns with our energy baseline.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 2112 2064
Number of employees resident on-site 7 6
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 2 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 2327 2534
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 475 559
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 2633.25 2837.25

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.31 Tons 0.27 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 No
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
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:

Styrofoam in the form of Packing Peanuts is collected and distributed to local businesses for their shipping needs, providing at least one more life cycle.

We pulled a trash compactor out of one of our residence halls and re-sold it through the Iowa Waste Exchange.

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) :

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:

We regularly conduct formal waste audits of the dumpsters across campus to learn about sources of contamination in our waste stream and keep our eye on contents in the four-compartment bins across campus. Our messaging and educational initiatives are geared around our findings. For example, we know that disposable coffee cups are often disposed of incorrectly so we have messaging campaigns and monthly "challenges" to educate and encourage people to recycle the plastic top, throw away the cup in the landfill and recycling the paper sleeve. Our Sustainability Educators host a monthly event called Coffee & Conversation in our student union. There are always activities related to recycling and waste, whether it is trivia or waste-sorting challenges.

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:

In 2017-2018, thet Center for Sustainable Communities employed two students to work as "Zero Waste Educators." These students conduct dozens of waste audits throughout the year, develop competitions and campaigns and assist with education efforts. Presentations are given at the start of each year to dining services and custodial staff about waste goals, trends and infrastructure. The campus underwent significant changes to waste infrastructure in 2016. We consolidated waste infrastructure by introducing a four-stream system in all campus buildings while at the same time removing trash and recycling bins from classrooms. This centralization means users will always have most options that they need to properly dispose of their waste wherever they are on campus. At the same time, excess, stand-along trash cans have been removed from across campus with the goal that in the near future there will never be a trash can without an accompanying recycling bin. The Recycling and Compost crew moved from being managed by the Center for Sustainable Communities to the Facilities office during this change. There is signage above every 4-compartment bin on campus that shows how to recycle / compost / landfill common materials, and a poster that encourages folks to compost. These posters are regularly updated if recycling standards change.

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

The Center for Sustainable Communities developed a new strategic plan for 2019-2022 that emphasizes waste management systems:
Develop and implement a zero-waste plan that continues reductions in landfill disposal (achieve 70% reduction from 2004 baseline by 2021 -- 2017-18 was more than 50% below baseline).
-Expand waste and recycling infrastructure to increase the amount of waste diversion
-Educate all campus constituencies about our waste reduction goal and related GHG emission reductions
-Explore elimination of single use, disposable containers on campus such as water bottles and packaging in the grab-n-go line
-Work with all departments on purchasing and source reduction
-Explore innovative partnerships such as community composting to leverage partnerships and economies of scale

The 2016-2017 year was the start of our robust waste audit program. 18 waste audits were systematically conducted across campus within the first 7 weeks of school. Similar numbers of waste audits were also implemented in the second semester of that year. Waste audits continued regularly through the Fall 2017 into the Spring 2018 semester. Our Energy and Waste Fellow and two Zero Waste Educators were responsible for scheduling and conducting these waste audits, though often audits will involve student recyclers or volunteers. These audits allow us to track the impacts of changes to infrastructure and also to identify problem areas in our waste stream.

In 2018, Luther College's Assistant Director for the Center for Sustainable Communities moved on after almost 10 years at the college. There was a 6-month gap in hiring a replacement, and waste audits were not conducted in Fall 2018. They will continue in Spring 2019. There are no longer funds for Energy and Waste Fellows at the college but we do have two Sustainability Educators who are tasked with helping the Center for Sustainable Communities develop and implement a zero-waste plan moving forward.

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

No such policies exist but there are practices that work to prevent waste. Some of these include dining services' willingness to receive product from the Luther Gardens in reusable totes, purchasing pallets of frozen vegetables from a local processor as a way to buy in bulk and save packaging and working with our local yogurt supplier to switch from plastic 5# containers of yogurt to bags, thus generating less material waste.

A brief description of the institution's surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

The Office Supply Reuse Closet is open M-F from 8am-5pm and is a location for students, faculty and staff to drop off and pick up used office and school supplies. The Luther Facilities Department also works through the Iowa Waste Exchange to ensure that college furniture and other items are distributed to other organizations for reuse whenever possible.

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):

The College hosts a used book sale once a year through which members of the community have the opportunity to donate books they no longer need and pick up new books in the meantime. The Office Supply Reuse Closet also serves as a platform for peer-to-peer exchange and reuse.

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):

PaperCut is Luther’s print management solution deployed by Information Technology Services (ITS) in 2016. Print management services allow us to more accurately track individual usage and allocate costs in providing print services on campus. They are part of our effort to help cut down on waste and encourage better management of printing resources. Our first print management solution, GoPrint, was installed in 2009. We are currently in the process of phasing out GoPrint on campus.

Luther students are given an allowance of 400 pages ($20.00) of printing for Fall and Spring semesters and 100 pages ($7.00) for the J-Term semester. Printing is tracked by the student’s Norse Key. Students will be charged for printing only when their printing allowance is empty. Unused pages are not carried over from semester to semester.

There is a discount for printing double-sided.

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:

Luther does not print course schedules and directories for students. They are available online through the student's my.luther.edu account. The course catalog is now available fully online and the volume of printed copies has declined significantly since making that switch. Faculty and staff all receive copies of paper directories but all information is also available online.

A brief description of the institution's program to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:

In Summer 2015 the college placed large recycling roll-offs next to the dumpsters at each residence hall and, at the same time, outfitted each student room with a recycling bin to encourage sort of trash and recyclables. This recycling infrastructure aids greatly in our efforts to reduce the total tons sent to the landfill during move-out week. Each residence hall has a designated area where items are collected for donation to local thrift stores. Food pantry donations are another part of that stream and in May 2018 over 1,600 pounds were collected and donated to the First Lutheran Church Food Pantry. We work with two local thrift stores during move-out week. These two organizations make trips through campus at least once/day to take donations from donation rooms. In 2018 we filled 17 18' trucks! Our Move Out program has decreased move out waste by 50% in 6 years.

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

Sustainability Educators hosted a clothing swap in December 2018 to educate the campus about textile waste. Over 50 students participated in the popular, week-long event. https://www.luther.edu/events/?event_id=840555&date=2018-12-06

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

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.