Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 67.16
Liaison Mike Versteege
Submission Date June 24, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Alberta
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.14 / 8.00 John Benson
Director, Buildings Grounds and Environmental Services
Facilities and Operations
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 1,329.94 Metric tons 862 Metric tons
Materials composted 206.28 Metric tons 0 Metric tons
Materials donated or re-sold 8.14 Metric tons 0 Metric tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Metric tons 0 Metric tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 2,277.39 Metric tons 3,086.50 Metric tons
Total waste generated 3,821.75 Metric tons 3,948.50 Metric tons

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

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year Jan. 1, 2019 Dec. 31, 2019
Baseline Year Jan. 1, 2005 Dec. 31, 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):

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 4,504 3,952
Number of employees resident on-site 8 0
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 573 746
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 37,267.38 32,326.13
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 9,788.70 8,354.40
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 36,993.06 32,244.40

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 3,821.75 Metric tons 3,948.50 Metric 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) No
Laboratory equipment No
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
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:

In addition to the items listed above, the recycling data includes dry cell batteries, and fluorescent tube and bulb recycling.

While the university has programs to divert vehicle tires from the landfill as well, due to a lack of information on weights, these items are not included in the recycling data above.

All electronics data including any white goods recycled, are included in OP-21 Hazardous Waste.

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:


In June 2013, a Waste Diversion Working Group was established to advise on the advancement of recycling and solid waste management at the university. This group meets once every 3 months to provide updates on existing waste diversion initiatives, plan further waste reduction activities, and/or collaborate on new ideas for the university's best waste management practices.


Recycle staff have also been trained to conduct pre-screening of recyclables, mixed paper, and organics rolling carts prior to tipping them into the on-campus Recycle Transfer Station compactors. If a rolling cart has a single or small amount of incorrectly placed waste material, the waste material will be removed and placed into the correct waste material compactor/bin. If the rolling cart is full of incorrectly placed waste materials, the whole rolling cart will be emptied into a landfill waste bin instead.


Periodic waste audits are conducted in randomly selected buildings for quality control purposes. These audits are mainly visual in nature and are conducted to gauge participation and contamination rates. The results of the audits are further used to improve education and training material for the betterment of the 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:


All recycling and Zero Waste stations have clear recycling signage aligned with the colour-coded stations.

In addition to regular signage, several shadow boxes (plexiglass boxes containing real-life discard items to demonstrate correct sorting) are deployed in major dining areas to minimize contamination. These shadow boxes sit directly on top of the Zero Waste bins. Each shadow box is customized with discard items that are commonly found in the area where it is currently placed. The boxes have proven to be good education/training tools and contamination rates are lower in those bins with boxes.


In 2016, when the new Zero Waste (ZW) program started being rolled out in buildings across campus, a ZW implementation guide was developed to ensure proper communications with building occupants. The ZW implementation guide includes emails with program details and acceptable material information; bookmarks that are handed out to building occupants; two sets of outreach tabling that includes a survey and hands-on Recycle it Right game to help building occupants learn to sort their waste materials correctly; and Recycle it Right lunch and learns that are offered to building occupants.


Buildings, Grounds and Environmental Services (BGES) within F&O conducts waste education for students during Week of Welcome and Orientation. Educational banners, bin labels and contests help familiarize students with the waste system, and a the Recycling Street Team (part of the SC volunteer program) educates attendees of several large events including WoW Pancake Breakfast and Athletic events. The new uab.ca/zero webpage on F&O website has comprehensive recycling information for university members and the community at large. BGES in collaboration with EMSO supports Residence Services with educating students about composting and waste diversion in residences.


The Waste Diversion/Recycling Coordinator provides annual training to Buildings and Grounds staff, contracted staff, and food service vendors on the campus recycling and organics collection programs.

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


Buildings, Grounds, and Environmental Services and Energy Management and Sustainable Operations collaborated with researchers from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence to develop a waste audit methodology and to conduct a North Campus waste audit in 2011, and a subsequent audit specific to organics generation in 2012.

The waste audit methodology enables periodic audits and consistent monitoring to enable ongoing improvement of waste diversion at the university. This research partnership also led to a literature review of the waste audit methodologies used at large post-secondary institutions across North America to further inform the waste audit methodology.


To monitor and assess the level of success of the zero waste pilot program before its expansion, three key elements were investigated: (i) material generation; (ii) material composition; and (iii) user behaviour. Material generation and composition are related to the amount of materials in each material stream and their level of contamination (incorrect material in a specified material stream). User behaviour is how users (e.g. students, staff, and visitors) interact with the new Zero Waste stations, such as pause time, ease of use, and opinions on signage. To understand the three elements, two key activities were conducted: container monitoring and spot audits. This evaluation was done for three consecutive years after initial program implementation.


Each semester at Augustana Campus, the Community Service-Learning students perform a waste audit. The audits determine how well the recycling and waste diversion systems are working and identify where changes or improvements are needed to uphold the campus-wide commitment to sustainable practices. Over the years, this waste sort has shown just how much of Augustana’s total waste could be diverted from the landfill, and highlighted the gains made in shrinking the ecological footprint.


In October 2019, the University of Alberta commissioned 13 third-party waste audits for individual buildings on North Campus. These audits are done periodically as part of the process of certifying buildings under the BOMA BEST certification program for sustainable building operations and maintenance. They will also be used to inform overall institutional waste initiatives.

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

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


All items purchased by the university are the property of the institution. Departments are required to manage their assets appropriately by ensuring that all goods, once they have completed their useful purposes for the department, are available for use by other departments on campus.

Departments that have surplus equipment are to contact SMS Surplus Services (smssurp@ualberta.ca), obtain a surplus disposal declaration number, and submit a completed surplus form. The surplus operations department of Supply Management Services picks up all items declared surplus and brings them to the central warehouse.

After items are brought to the warehouse, a sort is completed and it is determined if the goods can be reused on campus or should be disposed of off campus. Items that still have value on campus are kept within the warehouse until an appropriate home is found. In most cases, the equipment is transferred at no cost to another department.

Goods that cannot be reused on campus are disposed of in a number of different ways. Goods that have value but are unusable on campus are offered for sale on different websites and removed from campus by buyers. Electronic waste is taken to a local, provincially-approved recycler for processing. All metal is separated and sent to a metal recycler; batteries, plastics and wood products are sent to recyclers for reuse. Items are also donated to charities, schools and other organizations. Many office supplies are reused on campus, including toner cartridges and stationery products. All waste is minimized and very few items are sent to the landfill.

Equipment assets are tracked through a central database. Units looking for a particular item can contact Equipment Services (eilist@ualberta.ca) to search for the item on campus. If items are found, the requesting unit can contact the owner of the equipment and discuss whether the equipment is available. If successful, this can eliminate the requirement for a new purchase.

Surplus Services also supports university initiatives with space, staffing resources, and expertise. The department maintains a list of equipment that campus users are seeking. When usable equipment comes in, people on the list are notified. This system acts as an internal exchange network for goods between departments.

The university also has a furniture surplus group that redeploys used furniture on the university's campuses. This group manages an inventory of mainstream furniture (desks, tables, chairs, shelves, filing cabinets, etc.) that departments can request at no charge to them, often eliminating the need to purchase new furniture.

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):


There is a University of Alberta Swap n’ Trade group on Facebook where members of the University of Alberta community can trade items for reuse purposes such as foot rests, binders, filing cabinets, etc.


Energy Management and Sustainable Operations (EMSO), in partnership with SMS and Buildings, Grounds, and Environmental Services (BGES) host the "Freecycle Your Labware" swap-and-trade event. The event is an opportunity for labs to donate excess or unused lab supplies, as well as take items from the event for free.

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):

All university-operated computer labs and libraries charge students, staff and faculty to use printing services. Prices are standardized at $0.12 per black and white printed page and $0.35 per colour printed page. Standardized pricing is coordinated by the ONEcard office.

To encourage the use of efficient printers over less efficient stand-alone printers, students and staff can print from their own computer from anywhere on campus (including Augustana) and retrieve their print job securely from any multifunction device. Students and staff can also securely scan ​and send documents to their university email address at no charge.

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:


​All university course schedules and registration directories are available to current students through an online tool called Bear Tracks.​ ​The annual academic calendar is publicly available online only (printing was discontinued in 2014); this major publication includes admission procedures and deadlines, academic regulations and standards, programs of study, degree requirements, and general university policies and codes for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The following historic print numbers are provided for reference.
- In 2012/13 academic year, 9,000 calendars were printed.
- In 2011/12 academic year, 12 000 calendars were printed.
- In 2009/10 academic year, 15 000 calendars were printed.
- In 2006/07 academic year, 24 000 calendars were printed.
- In 2005/06 academic year, 25 000 calendars were printed.


The university operates an online staff directory, which reduces printing demands.

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


The move-in waste reduction strategy is a multi-pronged approach to engaging students that are new to campus and residences about ways they can get involved in sustainability. One priority topic area relates to sharing with students how they can recycle and compost on campus. To rise above the noise of other campus messages during the busy move-in and orientation season, a Sustainability eClass module was designed and made available for residents as a resource to review.


Thousands of students move in and out of the university's residences every year, and the material waste and costs associated with this cycle are large. Since 2011, Eco Move Out has provided a coordinated, large-scale effort to recycle and reuse materials. Eco Move Out is currently operated by Residence Services, in collaboration with various units within Facilities & Operations, as well as community partners and sponsors.

Eco Move Out offers coordination in planning, communicating and the implementation of a system of waste diversion that ensures that material waste resulting from residents’ move-out can be diverted from landfill to appropriate recycling and reuse facilities.

The Eco Move Out program consists of the following components:
- Meeting with partner organizations to develop the program and incorporate improvements derived from participant and organizer feedback.
- Securing and distributing a variety of bins at each residence.
- Direct communication with each residence about Eco Move Out, including information about bin locations, signage and acceptable materials.
- Coordinating the collection, measurement and distribution of all donated and recyclable materials.

The items collected during this time include: traditional recyclables; electronics; non-perishable food items and toiletries; empty personal care and beauty containers; and reusable clothing and household items.

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

The university coordinates a number of less conventional recycling programs designed to target specific waste items including ink cartridges, pen recycling, wood pallets, construction and demolition waste, and electronics.

Transportation Services coordinates a fluids recycling program that includes the collection and recycling of used motor oil and transmission fluid. Vehicle tires, oil filters and batteries are also collected.

The university also runs a Freon Recapture Program for refrigerants that ensures no Freon escapes and that Freon is reused.

Instead of being sent to landfill, the university uses road sweepings from spring clean-up are to fill potholes in gravel roads on farms and research stations.

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

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:


Shannon Leblanc
Program Team Lead
Energy Management and Sustainable Operations
Facilities & Operations

Sobia Samad
Zero Waste Program Coordinator
Buildings, Grounds, and Environmental Services
Facilities & Operations

Kris Urbanczyk
Associate Director, Distribution Services
Supply Management Services


Shannon Leblanc
Program Team Lead
Energy Management and Sustainable Operations
Facilities & Operations

Sobia Samad
Zero Waste Program Coordinator
Buildings, Grounds, and Environmental Services
Facilities & Operations

Kris Urbanczyk
Associate Director, Distribution Services
Supply Management Services

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.