Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.83
Liaison Mark Lichtenstein
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2023

STARS v2.2

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
OP-18: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.47 / 8.00 Sue Fassler
Sustainable Facilities Manager
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 100.17 Tons 73.82 Tons
Materials composted 17.62 Tons 0 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 107.43 Tons 182.46 Tons
Total waste generated 225.22 Tons 256.28 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility:

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Period Jan. 1, 2022 Dec. 31, 2022
Baseline Period Jan. 1, 2018 Dec. 31, 2018

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

2018 serves as ESF's baseline year for its zero waste programs because it is the calendar year directly preceding the launch of many zero waste programs. August 2019 saw the launch of linerless mini office trash bins, a robust compost program, corridor bin standardization and the addition of educational signage to all corridor and office bins (at the Syracuse campus). These programs had an immediate impact on the campus diversion rate and the amount of discarded material being sent to landfill and incineration.

The Syracuse Campus began receiving actual weight for its trash and recyclables during February 2019. These actual weights (pre intervention) were used as a proxy to estimate 2018 trash and recycling weight at the Syracuse campus. The 2018 tracking document linked below explains the assumptions used in this process in greater detail.

The College had access to actual trash and recycling weights for the Ranger School in 2018, as well as for the majority of trash and recycling at Centennial Hall in 2018.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 595 538
Number of employees resident on-site 25 9
Number of other individuals resident on-site 12 1
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 1,889.18 1,911.60
Full-time equivalent of employees 520.76 418
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 31.31 2
Weighted campus users 1,950.97 1,883.45

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.12 Tons 0.14 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 No
Plant materials Yes
Animal bedding No
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Electronics Yes
Laboratory equipment No
Furniture No
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste No
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets Yes
Tires No
Other (please specify below) Yes

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

Recycled: Shredded paper, batteries (alkaline and rechargeable), hardcover books

Furniture was resold following the NYS surplus property process, but weight for these items was not tracked, therefore not included in the data above. Similarly, a move out/in donation program was active in Centennial Hall (residence hall) during the Spring and Fall of 2022. However, weight of diverted materials was not tracked, therefore is not included in the data above.

The college does have an active tire recycling program, which operates on an as needed basis. Tires were last recycled in 2021.

Materials intended for disposal but subsequently recovered and reused on campus, performance year:

Does the institution use single stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Does the institution use dual stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program:

A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed:

The 13% contamination rate reported above is based upon one recycling audit, performed by students and staff, during the Fall 2022 semester. A trash audit, also performed during the Fall 2022 semester, showed that close to 60% of the material discarded in the trash should have been recycled or composted. The majority of this poor sorting was the result of a large campus event, where food scraps and leftover food was thrown in the trash instead of composted or donated. After talking to event organizers, it was discovered that the catering kitchen lacked trash/recycling/compost bins. Bins were purchased for the catering kitchen and the Office of Sustainability is working with event staff and catering companies to ensure that bins are properly used.

Every bin on campus (whether in an office or in a corridor) features educational signage explaining what should be placed in each bin. Beginning in the Fall 2022 semester, student Sustainability Engagement Assistants began "trash talking" by busy bins on campus to help educate their peers about proper recycling and composting practices.

Single use compostable items continue to be a source of confusion on campus. Therefore, the Office of Sustainability has worked extensively with the campus food service provider to transition to reusable to-go clamshells and reusable lidded soup cups beginning in the Spring 2023 semester. ESF's zero waste programs focus on replacing single use items with durable alternatives whenever possible, both for environmental impact and education/outreach reasons.

A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives:

Office Mini Bins (linerless):
- In August 2019, all office trash cans were replaced with 1.15 gallon mini bins. These bins do not have liners and are not washed by custodial staff. Office occupants are expected to bring compostable material to compost bins, located on every floor of every build (next to corridor trash and recycling bins). Custodial staff empty office mini bin trash and recycling once per week (Wednesdays). Office occupants are encouraged to empty their mini bins in the hall if they need a greater level of service. All mini bins and office recycling bins feature educational signage explaining what belongs in each bin.

Color coded corridor trash/recycling/compost bins:
- Co located and color coordinated trash/recycling/compost bins are located on every floor of every build on campus. Longer hallways feature two sets of bins. Each bin features educational signage.

Educational display at Trailhead Cafe:
- The trash/recycling/compost bins located by the Trailhead Cafe feature a display wall complete with a clear description and examples of actual items that belong in each bin. Most of the to go items offered at the Cafe are compostable, but not all. This causes confusion! The goal of this display wall is to show what actually belongs in each bin, using the real products that are available on campus as examples.

Reusable Containers:
- As mentioned above, single use compostable containers cause confusion on campus. The College has piloted different versions of a reusable container program at the Trailhead Cafe over the last few years. Last year, reusable containers were available for a fee and on a voluntary basis. Only 2% of to-go orders were placed in reusable containers. The 2023 Spring semester will see a full scale launch of a reusable container program at the Cafe. Containers will be free and tied to campus community member ID cards. Beginning in Fall 2023, people with outstanding container balances will be charged a fee.

Campus Race to Zero Waste:
- Each year, the campus participates in Campus Race to Zero Waste. Results are periodically shared with the campus community via email and social media.

Student Sustainability Engagement Assistants:
- Students are paid to "trash talk" at busy bins on campus. They are also available upon request to attend large events. These "trash talkers" educate their peers as to what materials belong in each bin (trash, recycling, compost).

- ESF employs 10 student peer to peer educators (EcoReps), who live in Centennial Hall (dorm). EcoReps perform a trash and recycling audit during September and April of each year. These pre and post audits help inform program messaging throughout the academic year. The first month of each academic year is focused on zero waste education.

Custodial and Grounds Team Zero Waste Professional Development:
- Each month, the Director of Sustainable Operations holds a team meeting with the grounds and custodial staff. Each meeting concludes with zero waste training and data sharing. Staff buy in has increased greatly as staff understand the impact of their work on campus and why it is important.

Green Office Certification:
- This engagement program has 10 focus areas, which include suggestions for behavior change/action in each. Participants receive points based upon their performance. One category is focused on Materials & Zero Waste.

Sustainable Event Certification:
-This engagement program has seven focus areas, which include suggestions for behavior change/action in each. Participants receive points based upon their performance. One category is focused on Zero Waste Infrastructure.

Sustainability Pledge:
- Members of the campus community are encouraged to take the ESF Sustainability Pledge. One category is focused on Materials and Zero Waste and includes multiple suggestions for how to keep the pledge.

Sustainability Ambassadors:
- Each academic year, the Office of Sustainability seeks out Sustainability Ambassadors to represent every department, division or office on campus. Paid faculty and staff Ambassadors join monthly meetings, led by Office of Sustainability staff, to learn about various sustainability programs and topics. They then creatively share what they learned with colleagues in their home department, division or office! One month is completely focused on zero waste.

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

The Mighty Oak Student Assembly's SustainabiliTEAM conducts monthly trash or recycling audits during the academic year. Results are posted on a white board by the campus café and are shared with the Director of Sustainable Operations. Beginning in Fall 2022, the Office of Sustainability led open to all trash and recycling audits (one of each). These audits will be repeated during each Spring and Fall moving forward. Special attention is paid to common contaminants. Results of these audits are shared in a campus-wide email and on social media.

A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

Green Purchasing & Break Free From Plastic Policy & Guide:

This Policy was adopted in November 2021. It reiterates ESF's commitment to upholding NYS GreenNY purchasing requirements and bans the purchase of many single use plastics with state funds for use on campus and at College events. The Green Purchasing Guide was created as an implementation tool and is updated three or four times per year by the Office of Sustainability.


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

ESF follows the NYS surplus property process and is actively working to modernize this system on campus. Currently, the Business Office sends an email to departmental designees when a piece of furniture or other surplus property is available for use on campus. This is an antiquated and cumbersome process that does not adequately reflect all of the material available for reuse on campus.

During Spring 2023, an RFP will be released to hire a firm to create a virtual surplus property marketplace for ESF. This marketplace will serve as a one stop shop where every member of the campus community can post and see materials that are available for reuse on campus.

A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse:

See above.

A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption:

ESF has a managed print initiative that disallows the purchase of new desktop printers. Steps are being taken to centralize printing through interdepartmental sharing. Use of shared electronic documents are popular on campus (exp: Microsoft Teams and Google Docs).

Students are assigned print quotas for each semester.

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

All course catalogs, course scheduled and directors are available online.

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

The Mighty Oak Student Assembly's SustainabiliTEAM began leading a move in/out reuse program in 2019. Each year it has gained momentum in terms of popularity and coordination. At the end of the academic year, donation drop spots are designated in Centennial Hall (dorm). Student volunteers spend the last few weeks of the semester sorting, inventorying and preparing donated items for storage. The college rents a POD for summer storage. During Fall 2022 move in, SustainabiliTEAM partnered with Student Affairs and the orientation leaders to facilitate distribution of the donated items. Any left over items were donated to a local non profit.

EcoReps and Office of Sustainability staff members performed a trash and recycling audit during move in (Fall 2022) to get a sense of how well new students and their families understood trash and recycling signage and expectations.

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

Website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization and diversion efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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.