Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.48
Liaison Abraham (Avi) Henn
Submission Date Sept. 28, 2020

STARS v2.2

Northern Arizona University
OP-18: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 5.91 / 8.00 Matthew Muchna
Sustainability Manager
Office 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 390 Tons 800 Tons
Materials composted 396.83 Tons 0 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 23.12 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 1,254.24 Tons 1,700 Tons
Total waste generated 2,064.19 Tons 2,500 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility:
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Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Period July 1, 2018 June 30, 2019
Baseline Period July 1, 2005 June 30, 2006

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

The baseline year FY2006 was adopted because it was the first year that amounts were accounted for.


Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 9,834 6,053
Number of employees resident on-site 18 0
Number of other individuals resident on-site 1 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 30,512 11,140.76
Full-time equivalent of employees 3,455.67 2,297
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 9,345.67 581
Weighted campus users 20,930.50 11,155.82

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.10 Tons 0.22 Tons

Percentage reduction in total waste generated per weighted campus user from baseline:
55.99

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling, performance year:
39.24

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator (including up to 10 percent attributable to post-recycling residual conversion):
39.24

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
Electronics 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) No

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

Housing and Residence Life recycled 42,840 pounds of mattresses with LRP Recycling in July 2016.

Housing and Residence Life participates in multiple Terracycle programs. We have diverted 12,648 items from the landfill. We collect the following items: Mouthwash bottles and caps, deodorant containers and caps, toothpaste tubes and caps, soap packaging, floss containers, toothbrushes, Hair care packaging such as shampoo caps, conditioner caps, hair gel tubes and caps, hair spray triggers, and hair paste caps. Skin care packaging such as lip balm tubes and caps, soap dispensers and tubes, body wash caps, lotion dispensers and caps. Cosmetics packaging such as lipstick cases, lip gloss tubes, mascara tubes, eye shadow cases, bronzer cases, foundation packaging, powder cases, eyeliner cases, eyeliner pencils, eye shadow tubes, concealer tubes, concealer sticks, and lip liner pencils. Plastic cereal bags and box liners, all used writing utensils, and Family-size snack bags, individual snack bags, and multipack snack bags.

We also have collection stations for used batteries and ink cartridges in all residential communities.

Composting Efforts on Campus:
The university composts over 300,000 pounds of material, which prevents 250 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
Since collaborating with the city, NAU has received 700 yards of Flagstaff's grounds waste.


Materials intended for disposal but subsequently recovered and reused on campus, performance year:
396.83 Tons

Does the institution use single stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:
Yes

Does the institution use dual stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:
No

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:
No

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program:
37.80

A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed:

Due to a new international market, 5 of the 7 plastic types are no longer recyclable in the City of Flagstaff, thus leading to higher contamination rates with plastic that used to be accepted recycling in our City.

We utilize signage educated by behavior change research, bin uniformity and messaging consistency with the City of Flagstaff. We are working with the City's new recycling limitations to continually educate our student body. In Fall 2019, one of our Waste Min coordinators gave a presentation to the entire Residence Life staff and Resident Assistants to share updated recycling laws and provide residence halls with signage and programming. This presentation has led to additional educational efforts within individual residence halls and the creation of Thrift Jacks, a student club that works with dorms and Louie's Cupboard to donate or repurpose old clothing, shoes, and other school supplies by students, for students. Career Closet is another initiative that aims to provide donated professional attire for students to take at no cost.


A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives:

O2G0: The O2GO reusable container program was implemented in collaboration with the Green Fund in the Spring of 2018. The goal of the program is to reduce single-use disposable waste in our retail dining locations. In our first semester, we had over 6,000 uses in just 5 dining locations. Due to this success, the program was expanded in the Fall of 2018 to 14 dining locations with the addition of reusable coffee cups. Since it’s implementation, NAU Campus Dining’s operation has become the largest university (by population) using the program. For more information on O2GO visit: https://in.nau.edu/dining/reuse/

Sustainable Catering: Our catering program has taken steps to minimize plastic disposables by making reusable dishware a standard in University Union events Instead of using plastic disposables at catered events, reusable dishware can be requested in events outside of the University Union for no additional charge. Catering also offers compostable service ware for no-frills events however, the customer is responsible for taking care of the waste. For boxed lunch events, catering offers sustainable box-lunches in reusable containers (all utensils and cups are also reusable with this option). Behind the scenes, catering has also replaced disposable gel burners with refillable burners! Eco-Burners, allow us to minimize waste and get the most usage out of our fuel tanks!

LeanPath: Leanpath is a back-of-house program that measures food waste by type and allows our chefs to see patterns of food that are wasted which can then be adjusted when planning the week’s menus.

Louie's Leftovers: Louie’s Leftovers is a program that reduces food waste and helps reduce food insecurity on campus by providing notifications through NAUgo letting students know when there is leftover food at catered campus events. The food must be eaten at the event but is available on a first come first serve basis to anyone who is hungry.

Thrift Jacks

Property Surplus:

Straw-Free NAU: In Fall 2018, we removed plastic straws from all dining locations and compostable straws are available upon request only reducing our use of straws by 87% (in the first semester). Campus Dining chose to eliminate plastic straws as they are small and often unnecessary plastic disposable that causes a great amount of harm to the environment. We also saw this as an opportunity to get consumers to think about if they really need some of the disposables they use, sometimes several times a day. Removing plastic straws from our operations has eliminated about 1 million plastic straws from our waste stream. We still provide compostable straws upon request to be mindful of our peers who may need a straw for medical reasons.

Donate Don't Ditch:
Green Games:
Student Programming: Increased student engagement with on campus residences, international students, and sociology class projects.
Green Office:
Green Lab:
Green Events Guide:


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

On February 13, 2020, the Office of Sustainability's Waste Min Specialist audited seven recycling dumpsters for contamination levels across various locations on campus. It covered student dorms, classrooms, administrative and public spaces. We are also tracking uniformity of City dumpsters which are being repainted to accurately reflect consistent coloring (blue for recycling and gray for landfill). We also conducted a waste audit and educational event at the Fall 2019 Homecoming football game. We found that recycling needs to be clearly messaged as only aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard/paper products. The use of mixed recycling seemed to confuse participants, which has informed our current messaging. Food collection and diversion could be considered for future tailgating events, though the amounts were minimal.


A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

The NAU Purchasing department has established policies that address sustainable purchasing in the "Contracting and Purchasing Services Policy Manual." Among other items, when possible, practical and feasible, the University will strive to select products that are: Durable as opposed to single use or disposable, Non or minimally toxic, preferably biodegradable, contain a high recycled content, especially post consumer recycled content, highly recyclable at the end of the life-cycle, and shipped responsibly by combining shipments with other shipments to the University or region with
minimal packaging consistent with care of product made from recycled and/or recyclable materials.


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

Northern Arizona University is required by law to maximize use of all assets and, when it has no further use for them, maximize returns on their sale. We are not allowed to give surplus property away. The Property Surplus Department is the only NAU department authorized to dispose of surplus property. The primary role of the Property Surplus department is to ensure that the excess property generated by NAU will be handled in a method that both maximizes the return to the University and meets the disposal requirements of the state and federal governments.

Departments may use Property Surplus to obtain used materials such as computers, furniture, educational materials, and vehicles on campus and when materials are not used within the University, they are sold to the public at discounted rates.


A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse:

Thrift Jacks club often hosts clothing and personal item exchanges based on student donations in the residence halls throughout the year. Career Closet aims to provide second-hand professional clothing to students from donations.

Louie's Cupboard is a location for students to donate food to our on campus food pantry to address food insecurity on campus.


A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption:

In the library and computer labs on campus there either is no printing or charged printing. Free printing is limited to some Graduate Assistant Offices only. Facility Services has implemented three major changes to printing on most centralized printers; default duplex printing, default black and white instead of color printing, and enabled a secondary setting that reduced toner consumption by lowering the print density.

Facility Services was also awarded a Green Fund grant to purchase 12 tablets for building inspectors to reduce the need for printed plans. That translates to almost 600 plans a month that no longer need to be printed due to digital access with the tablets.


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

Course catalogs are available at: http://catalog.nau.edu/

Course schedules available through the student online LOUIE system.

Directory is found on the front page of the NAU website: http://nau.edu/


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

The "Donate Don't Ditch" campaign is the marketing effort to enhance the existing residence hall move-out waste diversion program benefiting local, not-for-profit agencies. Students can donate their unwanted goods during spring move-out that go to benefit non-profit partners. Donate Don't Ditch completed its tenth year in Spring 2019, and has partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Goodwill, and Sunshine Rescue Mission. Items that are collected include gently used clothing, furniture, small household items and electronics, books, cleaning supplies, and non-perishable food. Since the program’s inception, almost 390,672 pounds of items have been donated with over 47,680 pounds donated in the Spring of 2019 alone, our second highest yearly total.

The following is breakdown of the total weight of both materials and food collected for 2017-2019:
-2017: 50,080lbs total
Materials: 44,360lbs
Food: 5,720lbs

-2018: 46,242lbs total
Materials: 44,111
Food: 2,131lbs

-2019:47,680lbs total
Materials: 40,953lbs
Food: 6,727lbs

In 2018 and 2019, we worked with the City in a collaboration to address off campus student move-outs. The City partnered with Goodwill of Northern Arizona to successfully donate used items and divert items from the landfill from the surrounding neighborhoods comprised mainly of students.

During move-in, we provide additional roll offs for cardboard recycling. Temp staff is hired to ensure that cardboard is collected and that other materials are diverted to the other dumpsters.


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

Food waste is one of the biggest issues to solve, especially on a campus of over 30,000 students. For that reason, we are taking major steps to decrease food waste across all of our dining locations through a variety of initiatives.

Leanpath is a back-of-house program that measures food waste by type and allows our chefs to see patterns of food that are wasted which can then be adjusted when planning the week’s menus.

Food Recovery Network is an initiative that started in 2014, which utilizes student volunteers to pick up leftover food at dining locations and donate it to local Flagstaff food banks. This program is able to recover 4,000lbs of hot food every semester and donate it to those in need.

Compost machines are installed in both of our dining halls which collect both pre and post-consumer food waste. Everything from fruit trimmings, half-eaten pizza slices, and even the napkins and cups used in resident dining locations are composted diverting over 300,000 lbs of food waste each year and turned into the soil which is then used for the NAU campus.

Louie’s Leftovers is our newest program to minimize food waste at NAU catered events. The program allows for event hosts to notify students about leftover food after events through the NAUgo app creating an avenue for student’s with food insecurities to be notified about where to find food on campus.

At the University Union and Dubois center people can drop off batteries and printer cartridges to be recycled. Batteries can also be recycled at Facility Services as well as light bulbs. There is also a central drop-off location location for glass in parking lot P62B.


Website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization and diversion efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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For the Landfill and Recycling audits, the City of Flagstaff Solid Waste Department picked up all dumpsters for both streams. This daily amount was extrapolated to our average 3x times a week for average collection. This weekly average was then multiplied over 52 weeks to capture our annual total. We believe this estimation to be slightly inflated due to a majority of students being on campus 32 weeks, with decreased winter and summer classes and programming.

For composting, we launched an official pilot program in October 2019 with the City of Flagstaff to process their Green waste from City Parks and Recreation, and we are exploring processing additional waste streams such as pre and post consumer food waste and dog food from the Purina plant here in town.

Sodexo also purchased a new digestor for the two main dining locations to take all food waste diversion. Both of these changes have increased our composting totals substantially.

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.