Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.47
Liaison Jenny McNamara
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Portland State University
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.19 / 8.00 Amanda Wolf
Program + Assessment Coordinator
Campus Sustainability Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 717.05 Tons 606.34 Tons
Materials composted 142.48 Tons 131.10 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 17.22 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 2060.47 Tons 1885.48 Tons
Total waste generated 2937.22 Tons 2622.92 Tons

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

Residual conversion facilities are not utilized in the state of Oregon, thus Portland State University does not have access to this technology. Our campus collects a variety of source separated material streams for proper disposal and recovery, such as: municipal solid waste, commingled recyclables, glass, and organic compostables. Materials are sorted by generates at specified waste and recycling stations across campus. Staff bring each waste stream to a centralized service location for collection and transportation by our hauler. Solid waste is transported to a government owned transfer station to be audited prior to being transferred to a local landfill. The landfill that our materials are sent incorporates gas recovery technology for electric generation. Commingled recyclable materials are transferred to a local materials recovery facility, were materials are sorted initially by hand, and then ran through equipment that utilizes optics, magnetic, and float/sink technologies to further sort out the materials into source specific commodities. Glass materials are processed at a local glass recycling and manufacturing facility. Organic compostable materials are transferred to an in-state facility for processing, where materials are first hand sorted to remove contaminates, and then placed in aerated static piles for aerobic digestion.


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):

Historically, this baseline year has been utilized to compare our year to year totals for waste/recycling diversion due to City requirements that mandated garbage and recycling companies report this information to commercial customers The City provided every business customer with printed information about the 50 percent recycling requirement, and required that every customer sign a commitment to recycle at least 50 percent of their waste, specifying which materials they would recycle.


Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 2232 1272
Number of employees resident on-site 73 30
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 0 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 20844 15296
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 2758 3264
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 1011 0
Weighted campus users 17519.50 14245.50

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.17 Tons 0.18 Tons

Percentage reduction in total waste generated per weighted campus user from baseline:
8.94

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling, performance year:
29.85

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator (including up to 10 percent attributable to post-recycling residual conversion):
29.85

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:

Polystyrene Foam - Through one of our vendors, polystyrene materials are collected onsite and sent to a local company that processes/densifies the materials for feedstock.

Specialty Rigid Plastics #5 – Partnering with PSU labs on campus, we collect specialty rigid plastics (pipet tip boxes) for recycling through a local plastics manufacturing company. This material is processed and ground into new feedstock.

Ink Toners – Spent ink toners are collected and palletized to be recycled through an established recovery program offered by one of our contracted vendors.

e-Recycling – Per State of Oregon regulations, electronics that are no longer in working condition are collected and palletized onsite for proper disposal at an Oregon based non-profit. These materials are disassembled, and recyclable materials (scrap metals, precious metals, plastics, etc.) are recovered and sold as commodities.

Food Donation – PSU Food Pantry collects food donation across campus from a number of groups. Specifically, PSU Eats provides food donations from catering events. Dependent on the type of food that is donated, these items will either stay on campus for students, or be provided to a local non-profit for redistribution within the community.


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) :
14.20 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?:
No

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?:
Yes

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?:
No

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program (percentage, 0-100):
10

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:

PSU conducts regular audits of our waste and recycling streams as a form of quality control mechanisms to inform and reduce the amount of contamination being produced on campus. When audits are performed, we will report these findings to users that have been identified as a potential user of the space/containers. These audits can take place both formally through a sort/audit, or informally through visual inspection of the containers contents.

Additionally, if contamination issues are found by our hauler or at the material recovery facility, we will be notified of the issue. This allows for PSU to further engage staff on how to proper discard of materials, and what materials are accepted in our recycling program.


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:

RecycleMania – PSU has participated in the national competition, Recyclemania, to promote and encourage waste reduction efforts with our student population.

EcoChallenge – PSU participates in the Northwest Earth Institutes yearly EcoChallenge event. This competition allows participants to identify focus areas (waste reduction being one of them) to reduce their impacts, and record their efforts/actions in meeting their goals. This engaging competition is open to the entire PSU community for registration.

Movie Screenings – In partnership with PSU Eats, CSO has co-sponsored movie screenings each term that stresses the importance recycling, waste reduction, and resource conservation. These events are intended to bring together those interested in reducing their impacts. Panels are also coordinated with industry experts to further discuss the movies topic of focus.

Retailer Waste Reduction Onboarding and Outreach – As an urban campus, we are unique in having mixed-use buildings across campus. PSU leases space to retailers on ground floors, and we work very closely with them to train staff on proper disposal, incorporating recycling and composting into their daily operations, and providing onsite cooking oil collection that is refined and repurposed as bio-fuel through a locally owned and operated company (Sequential Bio-Fuels).

Food Donations – Excess food from PSU Eats, catering, and onsite food retailors/carts are collected and redistributed to the PSU Food Pantry for students to access. This program continues to grow as our institution brings on more dining option. By working with these groups, we are able to share the importance of capturing food that would otherwise be discarded as composting.

Outreach Events – PSU hosts a number of onsite events, where departments are invited to engage with students, staff, and faculty on the work their department is performing. These events provide CSO face to face interaction with those who utilize our waste and recycling programming. CSO provide literature on materials accepted in our recycling program, answer questions, and collect contact information for electronic communications (e.g. newsletters and social media platforms).

No Scraps Left Behind – Since 2014, PSU has been targeting dining halls to promote our NSLB campaign to reduce food waste. We utilize posters, displays, and surveys to engage and track food waste behavior among the PSU community. A key visual component to the NSLB program it the use of food waste buffets, displaying the total amount of uneaten food items that guests have left on their plates after a meal. Additionally, we have moved to tray-less dining in our main residential cafeteria/eatery (Victor’s) to reduce food waste generated from the patrons dining experience.

Reuse Room/Supply Studio - The PSU ReUse Room and Supply Studio redistributes donated office, school, and art supplies to the campus community free of charge. Items are collected through donation drop-off sites, work orders, and other outreach events. By collecting these materials, we are reducing the amount of items that would potentially otherwise be discarded as landfill bound waste.

Water Bottle Refilling Stations – Units are installed across campus, allowing users to easily refill their reusable water bottles with filtered water, reducing waste associated with purchased single-use plastic bottles. Digital meters on the station allows users to know how many times the station has been utilized, thus highlighting the number of single use containers were avoided from being used/purchased.


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

The Campus Sustainability Office conducts periodic waste audits across campus to access our materials management efforts to identify areas for process improvement. This information helps drive decisions on how to increase our diversion efforts and refine programs to better meet the needs of the building’s occupants. These audits are either conducted through our Living Labs program, or internally sourced through Community Environmental Services (CES).

The PSU Living Lab’s Waste Audit Living Lab Experience (WALL-E) program is a partnership between the PSU Campus Sustainability Office, Facilities and Property Management department, and Institute for Sustainable Solutions that matches motivated faculty and students with University staff to work on projects that support PSU’s campus sustainability goals. The WALL-E team has found that 33 percent of what is thrown away at PSU is actually compostable; 11 percent is easily recyclable as part of the school’s regular recycling program; 26 percent could have been recycled with a little more effort, donated, or reused; and only 30 percent should have been sent to the landfill as true waste. The data generated by WALL-E helps the Campus Sustainability Office plan strategies for helping Portland State divert more waste from the landfill by increasing rates of reuse, recycling, and composting.

CES is a research and service unit of PSU that provides opportunities for students to get real world experience in waste management, preparing them for careers. In the process, they provide excellent technical assistance and research for partners looking to minimize their waste. CES identifies opportunities for improving waste management programs by utilizing data-based recommendations for advancing waste minimization efforts.

Additionally, by working in partnership with our contracted hauler, we have built into our contract language that our hauler will spot check and audit materials collected for disposal/recycling on campus. This provides us with an additional insights to work directly with onsite staff to inform them of concerns with improper disposal, or areas where contamination is a concern.


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

Since 2016, PSU has used our Sustainable Procurement and Life Cycle Consideration Policy to help guide the reduction of excess materials generated from campus purchases. By working with our Contracting department and preferred vendors, the Campus Sustainability Office has provided recommendations and strategies on reducing/eliminating packaging, bundling/minimum quantities per order/delivery, and requesting reusable pallets/totes when possible.


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

The PSU Reuse Room collects and redistributes gently used, surplus office, school, and small household supplies for free that would otherwise be recycled or discarded. This program is primarily ran by volunteers from the University to help reduce waste generated throughout campus, but is overseen by the CSO’s Waste Management Coordinator and a part-time student employee who is designated as the Reuse Coordinator for the campus. The Reuse room is dependent upon item donations from PSU students, staff, and faculty to help make our campus a more sustainable environment to live, work, and play.

The Supply Studio replicates the PSU Reuse Room program, but primarily focuses on the recovery and redistribution of art supplies. In collaboration between the Art & Design department and the Campus Sustainability Office, this space offers the PSU community art supplies ranging from acrylic paints and colored pencils, to drawing paper and rubber cement. This program celebrates the spirit of collaboration, and our culture to give, take, and share.

PSU Mug Runners is a water bottle and thermos collection program that partners with campus computer labs to collect and retain abandoned, durable containers for redistribution. This program also highlights the value of making sustainable choices by providing university members with a free, clean, reused, and reusable drink containers. Water bottles and mugs are available in the PSU Reuse Room after they are collected. At this time, we have partnered with 7 computer labs to collect containers that were left by users.

The PSU Surplus Store offers the general public an opportunity to purchase PSU surplus property that has not been acquired by University departments, state/local government agencies, or qualified non-profit organizations. Items are available for purchase via onsite, online storefront auctions, sealed bids, and contract bids.


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 PSU Student Sustainability Center, in partnership with the Campus Sustainability Office, facilitates the Waste Reduction Taskforce. The taskforce is made up of student volunteers who advance waste reduction efforts on campus through hosting clothing/materials exchanges and pop-up swaps. Since these are student-centric hosted events, this programming allows for students to explore unique avenues to engage the PSU community, and highlight the beneficial factors to recirculating items that would otherwise be discarded.


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):

To reduce the amount of printing at Portland State University is controlled by printing quotas. All students, employees, and affiliate accounts are allocated 500 credits per term. The quota does not carry over to subsequent academic terms and resets at the beginning of each term. Each type of printing style (paper size, black/white or color) has a predetermined credit amount, where double sided, black/white copies are defaulted as the most cost-effective choice for users. This program encourages users to be mindful of their impacts by limiting the amount of copies generated each term by users.

Additionally, department specific printers are defaulted to double sided printing to reduce the amount of paper used for general purposes. This supports our waste reduction efforts, while also saving vital resources associated to printing that occurs through our daily work.


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:

PSU no longer prints course bulletins/catalogs/schedules/directories.

PDFs of the course bulletins/catalogs are available for free online: http://www.pdx.edu/oaa/psu-bulletin.

Official transcripts can be processed and delivered electronically, via a third party vendor.

Course schedules and directories are only available online.


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

Move In – The Campus Sustainability Office works closely with University Housing and Residential Life and Facilities Housing Maintenance to coordinate waste collection and recycling services for students that are moving on to campus for the academic year. Resident advisors are informed of container placement, and are encouraged to inform students to first recycle materials before disposing of items into the landfill bound waste stream. This is also an opportunity for staff to connect with new students, and help share PSU’s goals of reducing our environmental impacts through waste reduction measures.

Move Out – Our annual Chuck-It for Charity event is hosted during the last two weeks of spring term. This event collects unwanted household items, such as food, clothing, appliances, office supplies, and electronics. Collection stations are placed in centralized locations within resident halls for ease of use. In spring of 2017, PSU diverted an estimated 23,689 pounds of donated items. These items were donated to local non-profits, shared with PSU student groups, and used to stock our Reuse Room and Supply Studio.


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

PSU partners with Cascadia Gaia Movement to place collection stations around residential buildings on campus, capturing and redistributing slightly used clothing and footwear to underserved communities. On average, this program is able to remove nearly 7.5 tons of materials from our landfill bound waste stream, while also reducing resource consumption and environmental impacts associated to green-house gas emissions from disposal.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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For the vast majority of our serviced containers, waste and recycling totals provided are based on a standard estimated formula that averages the total pounds per yard of the container. There are no state or local regulations currently in place that states haulers have to have scales on their trucks/equipment. Per our contract, we require that this formula is audited yearly for accuracy.

True totals are provided for materials processed in drop boxes, where a ticket receipt is provided by a calibrated scale house. These totals are provided on our hauler’s monthly data tracking report.

Performance Year: FY 2017

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.