Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.52
Liaison Gina Talt
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Princeton University
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.18 / 8.00 Regan Winston
Building Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 990 Tons 1,370 Tons
Materials composted 1,266 Tons 830 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 63.83 Tons 50 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 12.50 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 2,792 Tons 3,250 Tons
Total waste generated 5,124.33 Tons 5,500 Tons

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

Cooking oil is recovered at campus dining locations and sent to Waste Oil Recyclers which reuses it for biofuel production.

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, 2005 June 30, 2006

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):

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

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 7,093 6,111
Number of employees resident on-site 557 474
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 504 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 8,032 6,935
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 6,468 5,400
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 13,291.50 10,897.50

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.39 Tons 0.50 Tons

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

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

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

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) No

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

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) :

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?:

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?:

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?:

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

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:

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:

After a successful pilot, the University recently began implementing a student’s idea to have resource recovery stations as a zero-waste solution at large campus events. The stations reduce contamination and the amount of waste sent to the landfill by educating attendees about what goes in each bin (recycling, landfill, compost) through informational signage and directions from staffed volunteers. Therefore, the centers make waste more apparent to people on a regular basis, while encouraging them to actively think what materials can be recycled or composted versus landfilled.

Other waste-related behavior change initiatives include: periodic recycling education tabling and study breaks hosted by student EcoReps; and Greening Dining’s food waste weigh-in events at campus dining halls.

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

In spring 2017, a waste audit and recycling signage pilot was conducted by students and staff in the basement of Robertson Hall to determine the effectiveness of new recycling and landfill instructional posters on proper waste disposal. With the instructional signage in place, the total recycling rate experienced only a slight increase, but the biggest benefit was a reduction in recycling contamination. The results of this audit will inform an upcoming effort to develop campus-wide waste bin disposal guidelines.
In fall 2017, another waste audit was held outdoors on a frequently trafficked area on campus. The goal of the public audit was to collect data on how much recyclable material had been improperly thrown out and to raise awareness about the poorly understood or unknown problem of recycling contamination. Of all the recycling bags that were sorted, 77% contained more than 20% contamination. The most common contaminants were small bags of trash placed in recycling bags, with plastic wrappers, solo cups and napkins being the next most frequent. Printer paper and plastic bottles were the most common recyclables that were found in the landfill bags.
The compiled data indicated that there is still more work to be done to educate the campus community on proper recycling habits, due to the high levels of contamination in the recycling bags audited. The organizers are planning the next public waste audit for the annual campus Earth Day Celebration in April.

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

Princeton uses reusable boxes for supply deliveries from our office supply supplier. This simple shift has prevented the disposal of over 17,000 cardboard boxes in the past four years. In the near future, the University will be partnering with its new office products supplier as they evaluate the use of an electric truck to be used in the future for all campus deliveries.
In 2017, the University transitioned to a new campus-wide copier program. Using new multifunctional devices is less costly than printing to a local desktop or network printer and reduces the amount of used toner cartridges entering the waste stream. Additionally, all parts of the toner cartridges and waste toner cartridges are 100% recyclable and can be placed in regular office recycling.

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

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 University 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.

There is also a “Free Office Supplies” listserv in which subscribers may receive or send emails offering new or gently used office supplies for free to the Princeton University community.

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):

Two outlets exist that encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse including:
• Tiger-Trade for the exchange of furniture, books, housing, jobs, and more.
• University Surplus Program for donating or finding furniture, electronics, office supplies and other equipment

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):

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 the institution's initiatives to make materials (e.g. course catalogs, course schedules, and directories) 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 the institution's program 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.

In 2017, The EcoReps and the Office of Sustainability piloted a program last year to collect these items and other donations to resell at affordable prices during the move-in period for the fall semester, saving material that would otherwise be sent to a landfill.
The effort was very successful with nearly every item being sold or given away, and the money earned helped make the project break-even. The goal for 2018 is to expand the program and increase the efficiency of operations to further lower costs.

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

Clothing donations are accepted year-round in a collection box at the far end of parking lot 20 and sent to the Trenton Rescue Mission.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Waste Oil Recyclers: https://wasteoilrecyclers.com/

University Surplus Program: https://facilities.princeton.edu/services/university-surplus-program

Tiger-Trade exchange platform: https://ttrade.tigerapps.org/

Recovery and Reuse programs: https://sustain.princeton.edu/recycle

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

Materials composted represents composted food waste as well as biomass (brush, leaves, wood chips, grass).

Materials donated or re-sold for the performance year represents 2.83 tons of clothing donated to Goodwill and 4,068 pieces of furniture donated or re-sold to University departments/individuals through the Surplus program. Furniture tonnage was estimated by applying a conservative estimate of 30lbs per piece of furniture.

130 pieces of office supplies/specialized equipment was also donated or re-sold to University departments/individuals through the Surplus program.

Princeton University is an EPA WasteWise Partner. EPA WasteWise is a voluntary program for businesses and nonprofit institutions to demonstrate how they reduce waste and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste-handling processes. To become a Partner, Princeton uploaded its past year’s tonnage information of items recycled and reused, and has agreed to decrease waste by at least 5% per year.

The 504 “other individuals resident on site” represents family members of University employees (faculty and staff) who live in University rental housing including Merwick Stanworth (Merwick Stanworth is owned and operated by American Campus Communities on Princeton University-owned land. All market rate units are currently occupied by Princeton affiliates (faculty and staff) and are included in the count).
Some of the 557 resident employees are also family members within the same household.

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.