Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.58
Liaison James Gordon
Submission Date March 3, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Thompson Rivers University
IN-3: Innovation 3

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 James Gordon
Environmental Programs and Research Coordinator
TRU Office of Environment and Sustainability
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Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Zero Waste Initiative

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

TRU decided in early 2014 to take steps to become a zero waste university. Achieving this goal requires it to divert 90% of its waste from the landfill. The short-term goal is to move from its 2010 diversion rate of 35% to a 60% divesion rate by 2019, and then the remaining 30% after that. In order to acheive these targets, TRU signed onto the new pan-Canadian National Zero-Waste Council, and has invested approximately $60,000 in purchasing almost ninety zero waste stations (ZWS) which each contain 3, 4 or 5 bins to capture almost all types of waste. A full campus-wide educational campaign will begin in February 2015 once all stations are installed.
The five bins that make up the seventy five indoor ZWSs consist of Mixed Recycling; Compost; Refundable Cans, Boxes and Bottles; Plastic Bags; and Landfill.
• Mixed Recycling (which takes all types of paper/cardboard, rigid plastics (with a recycling symbol from 1 to 7 on it) and metal cans) is then recycled through the City of Kamloops recycling program.
• Compost (which takes most types of organic material) is collected by TRU janitors; processed in the campus in-vessel Jora 5100 composter; then used by the TRU Grounds crew for landscaping purposes. Another innovation around composting that will begin in early 2015 is to buy an industrial-strength grinding machine which will grind up any type of food packing like paper cups, cardboard clam-shell containers, and/or plant-based cutlery. This ground-up material--since it's all organic material (wood, corn, etc.)--can then be added into the in-vessel composting machine for full composting. A longer-term goal regarding this grinder initiative, is to work with the TRU Purchasing department to ensure that any new food-service contracts with 3rd-party contractors, spell-out that all to-go type containers used must only be made from 100% compostable organic material.
• Refundable cans, juice boxes and bottles are collected by staff and students from a local audism school program to help with program costs and to teach students about good work habits and community involvement.
• Plastic Bags, since they will soon not be accepted in the regular City of Kamloops recycling system, are collected by TRU janitors; stock-piled until there’s a large load (i.e. ‘bags of bags’); then brought by TRU Facilities staff to special City of Kamloops plastic bags recycling bins for proper recycling (if this step was not taken by TRU, then all of those plastic bags would end up in the local landfill).
• Landfill waste is everything else.
The four bins for the ten outdoor ZWSs include the same bins as the indoor stations, except for Plastic Bags.
There will also be four 'Coffee Stations', which will be located near the four main coffee shops around campus. These recycling stations have three bins: cups/sleeves, lids, and liquids.
Other established recycling or waste-diversion programs that have been operating at TRU for years--and will continue to be improved upon--include the following:
• Through TRU’s Trades and Technology school, large volumes of scrap metal are collected and then brought for recycling.
• 17 specific battery recycling bins are located in high-traffic areas throughout the campus.
• All yard clippings-type organic material--roughly 90% of all the organic material that is disposed of from the TRU campus—is trucked off-site to a City of Kamloops composting facility designed for this type of material (which is then properly composted and sold back to the public for top-dressing fertilizer).
• All photocopier toner and ink cartridges are collected and returned to the manufacturer for refilling.
• All unusable electronic waste is picked up by a certified 3rd party recycler


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

After its initial zero-waste pilot project eneded in June 2014, there was an approximate $3000 savings because of fewer needed garbage dumpster tips over the same time period from the previous year. Once the zero waste program is fully operational by March 2015, it's anticipated there will be a $15,000/$18,000 yearly savings.
Another positive measurable outcome associated with this innovation--although only anecdotally measurable--is the regular stream of compliments from all walks of TRU community members regarding how pleased they are with the new zero waste stations.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum No
Research No
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement No
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services Yes
Energy No
Grounds Yes
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste Yes
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

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