Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 58.08
Liaison Kristi Wiedemann
Submission Date March 13, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Princeton University
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.47 / 5.00 Jonathan Baer
Director, Building Services
Building Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 970 Tons 1,370 Tons
Materials composted 2,230 Tons 830 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 50 Tons 50 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 2,440 Tons 3,250 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 6,836 6,111
Number of residential employees 241 474
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 7,910 6,935
Full-time equivalent of employees 6,323 5,400
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 July 1, 2013 June 30, 2014
Baseline Year July 1, 2005 June 30, 2006

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

The baseline was adopted because this timeframe was prior to the inception of the University’s Sustainability Plan in 2007-2008.

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

In preparation for Princeton’s conversion to single-stream recycling, students conducted waste audits before and after the pilot in fall 2013.

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

Princeton uses reusable boxes for supply deliveries from OfficeMax. This simple shift has prevented the disposal of over 17,000 cardboard boxes in the past four years.

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

The University Surplus Program has donated, reused, or sold more than 95 percent of discarded furniture and electronics in the past year. Year-end donations from Princeton students have risen significantly since 2008.

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

While making the above materials available online rather than in print is not official university policy (meaning it is not mandatory), it has increasingly become the practice here to publish online instead of in print. This began as a cost-cutting method, implemented aggressively in early 2009, and has become accepted practice.

Additionally, any unit that publishes newsletters or other informational products has been strongly encouraged to publish online only, where possible, providing print publications only upon request or in situations where the print version is necessary.

All course catalogs and schedules are offered online. As of 2012/2013, Princeton’s Admissions Office transitioned to only taking online applications and only notifying students about their application electronically.

During 2014, OIT has worked with several offices on campus to develop and implement a new paperless advising system. These ‘advising tools’ were used for the first time in September to facilitate the valuable discussions between the students of the class of 2017 and their residential college advisers. A significant undertaking, the project concluded with great success in large part due to the strong partnerships between the Office of the Dean of the College, the six Residential Colleges, the Office of International Programs, the Office of the Registrar, and several groups within OIT working collaboratively toward the same end. New electronic student folders, a restructured AB/BSE program form, and several custom advising “dashboards” within the Peoplesoft Teaching and Advising system work together to streamline and enhance first-term student advising in the residential colleges. The new electronic folders also align with University sustainability and paperless initiatives and feature enhanced security protections.

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

Each student is given a quota for the number of pages per semester that he/she may print. Princeton also highly encourages students to print less and view documents electronically. In addition, the University's printers automatically print double sided (unless otherwise specified by the student) to conserve paper.

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

Any student may store their belongings during the summer through the Princeton Student Agencies Moving and Storage Agency for a fee. Additionally, by providing summer storage to international students and students studying abroad, the University is helping to reduce potential waste that could otherwise result from packaging and shipping.

To reduce the amount of move-out waste, the Eco-Reps work with Building Services each year to place collection bins at about 20 sites across campus. Students are encouraged to donate books, school supplies, clothing, unopened food and toiletries, furniture, and other reusable materials.

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

In an effort to be good stewards of University resources, quality surplus materials, including various types of equipment and furniture are reused on campus whenever possible via the Surplus Program. What’s no longer needed in one department often finds a home in another. And, if the surplus can’t be used on campus, the University makes it available for purchase by employees and the public, or coordinates the donation to a charity. The Surplus Program also handles the disposition of items that must be scrapped or discarded due to federal and state disposal regulations, as well as for health and safety reasons.

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

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:

Campus Dining uses “Food Pro,” a food procurement and ordering program that uses historical data and yield-tested recipes to forecast quantities and servings that limits the daily amount of food wasted in dining operations. The historical data includes the time that the recipe was cooked in the last year, how much of the recipe was cooked, and how much of the recipe was taken by students or remained as leftovers that were later composted, repurposed or frozen for later use. The program uses an algorithm to analyze these numbers to create new recipes that prevents cooking too much food.

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

In spring 2009, Greening Princeton advocated for Princeton Campus Dining to remove trays from their dining halls. Greening Princeton and Campus Dining conducted two pilot trayless dining nights at Forbes College, in which Campus Dining monitored changes in food waste, water, and energy usage and Greening Princeton members manned a table at the dining hall entrance to educate students on the benefits of trayless dining and took a survey to gauge student support for the initiative. Once students were informed of the impressive benefits of trayless dining, 81% said that they supported the switch. Greening Princeton conducted a campus-wide publicity campaign to inform the student body of these benefits and help Campus Dining make a smooth transition to removing trays. As of summer 2011, all campus dining halls became "trayless."

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):

All campus eateries that offer to-go options provide recyclable, recycled content, or compostable containers. Additionally, students who eat at Café Vivian, the organic, sustainable eatery on campus, can elect to participate in its reusable container program. The program, called ‘Go Viv!’, allows students to purchase a token which they exchange for a reusable container at checkout.

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 campus eateries that offer dine-in meals provide reusable plateware and silverware for use. Additionally, Catering Operations offers reusable, recyclable, recycled content, and compostable plateware and silverware for use.

All campus eateries that offer to-go options use third-party certified compostable containers in conjunction with Campus Dining’s composting program. Additionally, students who eat at Café Vivian, the organic, sustainable eatery on campus, can elect to participate in its reusable container program. The program, called ‘Go Viv!’, allows students to purchase a token which they exchange for a reusable container at checkout.

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:

Anyone can provide their own coffee mug or bottle at campus eateries to receive a 25¢ discount on hot and cold beverages.

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

The Undergraduate Student Government owns and operates a “free food” listserv for students, staff, and faculty. Any member of the campus community can advertise to this listserv when free food is available, including extra food leftover from group or campus meetings. This provides an effective means of advertising when and where extra food is available so that interested individuals can eat the food and limit the amount of food waste produced by Princeton’s campus.

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

The baseline data for materials reused, donated or re-sold is from fiscal year 2007 because the data from fiscal year 2006 is unavailable.

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.