Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.13
Liaison Bridget Flynn
Submission Date March 9, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Oberlin College
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.21 / 5.00 Bridget Flynn
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 51.60 Tons 34.80 Tons
Materials composted 46.20 Tons 0.18 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 15 Tons 1 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 1565 Tons 1685 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 2631 2171
Number of residential employees 25 20
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 2959 2171
Full-time equivalent of employees 965 950
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 0 115

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2010 June 30, 2011
Baseline Year July 1, 2004 June 30, 2005

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

The baseline was the year the Environmental Policy was written.


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

The student-powered Resource Conservation Team (RCT) and Office of Environmental Sustainability interns conduct periodic waste audits on campus. The group pulled bags of waste destined for the landfill from various dorms across campus and laid it out on a tarp during a popular outdoor event. These awesome students sorted through the waste to display to other students and members of campus that there are some items that could be recycled instead of landfilled! Further, that food items could be composted.


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

When purchase card users are issued a card, along with their instructions, they are given a link to the College's Green Purchasing policy. This policy encourages users to think about green purchasing, which also includes minimal and/or reusable and/or recyclable packaging and the like.


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

Excess furniture is stored and reused where appropriate. The Resource Conservation Team runs a Free Store, which collects and offers surplus items. The Recycled Products Co-op, a student organization, has a mission to "provide affordable recycled office supplies to the Oberlin community at large, specifically Oberlin College students and other interested parties, thereby stimulating the larger market for recycled products manufacture and development, while at the same time creating a sustainable, at-cost product option for all economic classes of office supply users."


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

Oberlin used to print course catalogs and directories and distribute them widely. Now directories are no longer printed and a small number of course catalogs are printed for a limited number of specific purposes. The course catalog, course registration and the directory are all available online.


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

Students are given a print quota each semester and must add money to their card if they exceed that limit. Departments are given a particular printing allocation to curb excessive printing of materials. Many departments have default settings marked to print double-sided. Computer labs on campus are now automatically on duplex printing settings.


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

The Resource Conservation Team runs the Little and Big Swap, which collects students' unwanted items, at the end of each semester. In 2012 for the first time, the RCT ran the Fresh Swap specifically for first year students to find items they need for their dorms (i.e. hangers, trash cans, school supplies, etc.) that they might otherwise purchase. Throughout the school year they also run the Free Store.


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

Grounds collects all yard waste to compost and reuse in flower beds.

Oberlin College has had an informal printing toner and ink cartridge recycling program in place for a few years. In 2013-2014, the Sustainable Purchasing Intern conducted research on different programs, talked with staff, and initiated a new cartridge recycling program to be rolled out across campus.


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

The CDS Recyclers and the Resource Conservation Team have performed informal audits at various events and dining halls on campus.


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:

CDS employees keep tabs on which foods sell and adjust their production accordingly.


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

In Stevenson in 2012-2014 CDS employees were asked to keep specific track of food leftovers and food temperatures. This way the College would know what foods are not being eaten and we'd be able to begin participating in food rescue (health code requires that food temperatures must be meticulously tracked in order to be deemed safe to be eaten).

Additionally, CDS practices allow for food to be served and leftovers to be cooled appropriately and re-heated for the next day. This reduces food waste since dishes that don't run out when they are first served are not thrown away, but rather reserved.

The trays at Stevenson and Lord Saunders Dining at Afrikan Heritage House have been removed to encourage mindful eating habits and to engage in more sustainable practices.


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):

We provide reusable containers to students who wish to carry out food at our largest to go facility. A three dollar deposit is required to join the program, although this is returned if students decide to return the container at the end of the semester. Students also receive a $0.25 incentive every time the reusable container is used.

Most dining facilities use compostable materials.


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):

The largest dining hall on campus, Stevenson, only serves on reusable ware. Dascomb mostly utilizes reusable ware, with the exception of compostable take-away cups and lids and coffee cups (coffee lids recyclable). To-go dining locations offer compostable plates, coffee cups, and silverware. To-go boxed sandwiches are in recyclable containers.


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:

Campus Dining Service offers a $0.25 discount when reusable mugs are used. In 2014 for the first time, coffee purchasers were charged $0.25 extra for a paper cup instead of using a reusable mug.


A brief description of other dining services waste minimization programs and initiatives:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization initiatives is available:
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Landfill tonnage for 2005 and performance year was estimated by multiplying total trash dumpster volume by number of annual pickups, and using a 60% fill ratio. Dumpster pickup schedule is set whether dumpsters are full or not. Estimated wt/cu yd used = 150 lbs.

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.