Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.74
Liaison David Cullmer
Submission Date Oct. 20, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Pennsylvania State University
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.19 / 5.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 2,502 Tons 2,295 Tons
Materials composted 4,535 Tons 1,955 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 113 Tons 77 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 5,723 Tons 6,184 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 14,801 13,795
Number of residential employees 0 0
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 44,935 39,043
Full-time equivalent of employees 16,703 14,183
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 0 0

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year Jan. 1, 2013 Dec. 31, 2013
Baseline Year Jan. 1, 2005 Dec. 31, 2005

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

2005 was adopted as the baseline year to be consistent with our previous STARS report. Waste data are collected and reported on a calendar year basis.

Enrollment/ employment data are most readily available as a fall snapshot; the values above are for Fall 2005 and Fall 2013. Distance education students are NOT included in the FTE enrollment figures; thus we do not provide a value for them above to allow a more accurate calculation of "Weighted Campus Users". Employee FTE was not available; instead we use employee headcount.


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

Spot audits of trash bins are being conducted prior to a building's inclusion in the new office composting program, to establish a waste baseline against which the program's impact can be measured. Buildings with low diversion rates are re-audited after the office composting program has been in effect for several months. In addition, audits were conducted as part of a pilot program with Centre County Recycling & Refuse, to investigate the feasibility of adding miscellaneous plastics to the recycling stream. These plastics are now being recycled on campus and in the community.


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

The following procurement policies and initiatives were developed to reduce waste:

eBuy, the University’s e-procurement system, reduces paper usage by electronically delivering purchasing orders and electronically processing invoices and payments.

Travel Services uses a paperless transaction process, including accepting electronic documents as official receipts for reconciliation and reimbursement.

The following vendor requirements have been implemented to reduce waste:
- Required DELL to provide eco friendly and more efficient packaging when shipping computers.
- Required PEPSI to use less plastic in their bottled products.
- Required the elimination of Styrofoam peanuts in the packaging of products sent to PSU.

For ceiling tiles and carpet, worked with vendors to implement recycling of old product when replaced with new product.


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

Penn State's Furniture Re-use Program collects and redistributes furniture among Penn State University offices.

Lion Surplus also operates a public sales store open to students, faculty, staff, and the general public. Lion Surplus disposes of University-owned equipment such as desks, chairs, filing cabinets, electronics, and scientific equipment through sales, bids, or auctions.


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

Course schedules and semester offerings can be found online at the University Registrar's Schedule of Courses website: http://schedule.psu.edu/.

Course and program descriptions are available online for undergrads http://bulletins.psu.edu/undergrad and graduate students. http://bulletins.psu.edu/graduate

Classes are scheduled online using the student's Elion page. http://elion.psu.edu
Additionally, the advising handbook for course sequencing can be found online and the student's degree audit and transcripts are online.

The Penn State directory is online and lists contact information for students, faculty, and staff. This can be found at: http://www.work.psu.edu/ldap/
Electronic documents and data entry systems have replaced many that formerly relied on paper, including Time and Attendance reporting (ESSIC), online General Stores catalog, online OPP Stores catalog, electronic pay checks, mobile application in OPP’s FAM to reduce printed work orders, electronic reporting, online data warehouses, etc.


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

Students using lab and classroom printers managed by Information Technology Services (ITS) may print up to 110 black-and-white pages each semester without charge. Usage is tracked by a centralized system. Over the 110-page limit students must purchase additional sheets. Faculty and staff are also allotted a limited number of sheets on lab and classroom printers; additional sheets may be purchased by the employee's unit, or by the employee. See http://clc.its.psu.edu/ItAdminSupport/printing


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

Penn State's Trash to Treasure event (T2T) collects donated goods and sells them in a one day sale. The program raises approximately $50,000 for the Centre County United Way and saves more than 60 tons of usable goods from going to a landfill. Beginning the week before finals, collection bins are placed in residence halls. Specific areas in the dorms are designated for rugs and furniture. Penn State staff and United Way volunteers sort the goods and man the sale held at Beaver Stadium in early June each year. http://sites.psu.edu/trash2treasure/.


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

Recycling sorting stations are conveniently located in all building on campus. A wide variety of materials are accepted, including: mixed paper & newspaper; glass; metal; plastic bottles and film; miscellaneous plastics, and compostables. By Spring 2015, all buildings at the University Park campus will have sorting stations that include miscellaneous plastics and composting bins. Special pick-up is available for additional recyclable items, including: CDs, DVDs, cassette and VHS tapes; batteries; flourescent light tubes; unempty aerosol and paint cans; electronic equipment; corrugated cardboard; hardcover books, and polystyrene packaging.

Penn State has installed over 44 Water Bottle Refilling Stations at select "high traffic" locations on campus, to encourage the use of refillable bottles and reduce the use of disposables. Plans are in place for additional installations in the future.
http://sustainability.psu.edu/mobius-hydration-stations

Custodial services uses super concentrated cleaning products in automatic dispensers that reduces packaging and usage waste. Jumbo dispensers are used for paper towels and toilet tissue to reduce packaging and use.


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

Spot audits of trash bins are being conducted prior to a building's inclusion in the new office composting program, to establish a waste baseline against which the program's impact can be measured.

Food Services conducts post-consumer waste audits periodically (usually semi-annually). Post-consumer waste is collected and weighed in an effort to quantify. The information is compared audit to audit to identify trends and evaluate the effectiveness of our reduction efforts.


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:

Penn State Food Services' Culinary Support Division continually evaluates the quantity of trim waste and spoilage. They then conduct training programs for our professional culinary staff and for our student employees with regard to reducing trim waste. To decrease the spoilage quantities, all of our employees (100%) must pass a certified food safety class. The increased knowledge from these classes with respect to proper storage and handling techniques reduces our spoilage factor tremendously.


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

Penn State Food Services has reduced the size of the plates used in the dining hall, which encourages smaller portion size and less food waste. Leftover food is donated to several local efforts nightly, including the Meals on Wheels program. Pre-production food stuffs are donated to Meals on Wheels at each school break or holiday period.


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):

A pilot program to bring reusable carryout food containers to campus dining halls was conducted in the Pollack Dining Commons during spring 2014. The goal of this program was to reduce the number of disposable containers used and to demonstrate student participation. With the pilot's success, the program will be rolled out at all the dining halls on campus in Fall 2014.


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):

All dining units default to china and silverware as the first position of service. To-go packaging is the second position at the guest’s request. Food Services also supports the university’s overall mission of 85% diversion through recycling. Recyclables are captured on both the pre-consumer and post-consumer side of our operations. While not compostable, 95% of our packaging is recyclable. Our clear “plastics” are actually specified as PLA compostable, however our current compost facility does not process these items.


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:

All retail dining facilities have reusable coffee mugs and water bottles available for purchase. When individuals bring these reusable beverage containers back, they receive ~15% discount on their purchase. At many of the locations, a person can bring their own mug and receive the same discount.


A brief description of other dining services waste minimization programs and initiatives:

A "Green Meetings Guide", produced by Penn State, offers staff guidelines for providing a zero waste meal. Campus catering offers this service, which has encouraged some off-campus caterers to follow suit.

Ongoing efforts by Food Services to reduce waste include:
Portion size reductions on all serving lines.
Smaller serving utensils.
Mixed office paper recycling in all kitchens.
Recycling/compost training annually for all employees.
Unit chefs in all kitchens.


The website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization initiatives is available:

Previous base year values have been adjusted to remove asphalt, C&D, electronics, and haz mat tonnage from all waste values (total, diverted, disposed), per STARS guidance.

Materials reused = Trash to Treasure amounts; internal reuse of furniture not available; items sold through Lion Surplus do not appear to be tracked as tonnage on the recycling report.

The employee FTE values given above are actually headcounts. FTE values are not tracked.

FTE of distance education students is entered as zero above, because these students are not included in the FTE enrollment values (thus there is no need to adjust for them when computing Weighted Campus Users).

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.