Overall Rating Reporter - expired
Overall Score
Liaison Chelsea Hamilton
Submission Date March 5, 2020

STARS v2.2

Vanderbilt University
OP-18: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Chelsea Hamilton
Sustainability Outreach Coordinator
Sustainability and Environmental Management Office
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 5,450.93 Tons 5,058.25 Tons
Materials composted 335.56 Tons 117.76 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 26.55 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 6,439.71 Tons 5,806.24 Tons
Total waste generated 12,252.75 Tons 10,982.25 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 July 1, 2018 June 30, 2019
Baseline Period Jan. 1, 2017 Dec. 31, 2017

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


Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 6,449 6,210
Number of employees resident on-site 24 7
Number of other individuals resident on-site 51 832
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 12,344 11,037
Full-time equivalent of employees 8,715 19,437
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 17,463.50 25,241.75

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.70 Tons 0.44 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
Electronics Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
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:

batteries, ballasts, and lamps

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

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:

All recycling is visually inspected and is collected in clear bags during collection to remove contamination before the recycling is taken off campus.

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

VU recently announced its Zero Waste Goal for 2030. The Zero Waste Study and Master Plan was developed by the Zero Waste Advisory Committee to address the portion of Scope 3 emissions related to waste disposal and recycling and to help progress towards Vanderbilt’s carbon neutral and Net Positive + Resilience energy goals by 2050.

Vanderbilt’s history of recycling has expanded in recent years to include food and material waste reduction. The Zero Waste Master Plan continues this forward progress to attain a higher standard of waste prevention, reduction, reuse and diversion.

Based on past data, the Committee recommended that the university consider the following two goals, along with two supporting actions:
• Goal 1: Achieve Zero waste (90 percent diversion from landfill) by 2030
• Goal 2: Achieve 30% waste generation reduction from 2017 levels by 2030

Supporting Actions:
• End institutional single-use plastic purchases by 2025, except in laboratories*; and
• Expand food waste collection to include all dining areas and residential halls by 2025

Vanderbilt includes signage at all of the residential recycling areas and dining areas that instruct what materials are recyclable and what containers they should be recycled in. This signage includes text and pictures, with an emphasis on materials that should be recycled, and also includes trouble items that are common contaminators.

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

Vanderbilt’s waste and recycling vendor, Waste Management, Inc., conducts thorough waste audits periodically as part of their contract with the University.

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

In 2016 a new agreement was signed which consolidated construction and demolition waste under Vanderbilt’s master service agreement with Waste Management. Communication efforts around the new agreement have been made and all projects are aware of diversion efforts with the intent of increasing diversion rates, performing more robust due diligence, and developing better metrics.

In 2014, Procurement partnered with our office supply vendor to mandate that orders for many brand-name printer toner cartridges and various general office supplies are fulfilled with comparable re-manufactured toner cartridges. This supports Vanderbilt’s ongoing efforts to lower costs while enhancing sustainability efforts by using recycled products.

Office supply orders require a $25 minimum order. This change eliminates 988 pounds of shipping waste per quarter, further contributing to Vanderbilt’s commitment to sustainability.

Vanderbilt Campus Dining has eliminated plastic water and soda bottles from their dining facilities, straw, bag, and lid use. In addition, they have replaced all to-go containers and utensils with compostable materials.

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

The Vanderbilt ReUse Surplus program disposes of unwanted, Vanderbilt-owned items. After items are collected by surplus, they are either: donated, sold, or otherwise recycled or disposed of. Surplus items that can be redistributed through Vanderbilt are handled by Vanderbilt Procurement. This includes items such as: furniture, office supplies, office equipment, laboratory equipment, etc. https://www.vanderbilt.edu/sustainvu/what-we-do/surplus/

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

Vanderbilt also has an online “Vandy FreeSwap” initiative to allow students, faculty and staff the opportunity to give their items away to others on campus.

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

VUprint, Vanderbilt’s pay-for-print service, is designed to provide convenient, cost-effective and sustainable public access printing to students, faculty, staff and eligible guests at a variety of locations across campus. All public access printers in libraries, most computer labs and common areas use this system. Most libraries on campus are set to default double-sided printing.

Vanderbilt also implemented the CampusPrint initiative in 2016. The CampusPrint program allows users to print a document remotely to any CampusPrint-enabled device, and only release the print job when they scan their ID card. The benefits of the program include:
• Pay-per-use pricing model
• Secure printing using your Vanderbilt ID/Commodore Card
• Campus-wide access, giving you the ability to send and release your print job at any CampusPrint-enabled device
• Unlimited training and support
• Reduced administrative burden for departments - no individual leases, POs, or service agreements
• Energy-efficient machines, stocked with environmentally-friendly FSC® certified paper
• Multi-function devices, combining copy, print, scan, and fax (most devices) in one machine.
This new initiative will have a direct impact on Vanderbilt University’s office paper use and the efficiency and number of the devices across campus.

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

Vanderbilt course catalogs, schedules and directories are available online. Printed copies of the Undergraduate Catalog are available on request from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Catalogs of the Graduate School and post-baccalaureate professional schools of the university are available on request from the dean of the appropriate school. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/catalogs/undergrad/

In 2009, Vanderbilt stopped automatically printing hard copies of the phone directory for all staff. The phone directory is now only available online through Vanderbilt People Finder. https://phonedirectory.vanderbilt.edu/cdb/

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

Vanderbilt has a robust move-in and move-out waste reduction strategy. During move-in, extra recycling bins are placed around campus and in addition to normal recycling collections, cardboard, plastic film, packing materials, and molded Styrofoam are also collected. Water bottles have been completely eliminated during move-in activities in favor of eco-friendly, recyclable cups and large coolers of water placed around campus. In 2017, 47 tons of cardboard recycled. This equaled a 570% increase since 2007. Cardboard crew also recycled 2 large box trucks of plastic film, Styrofoam and packing materials.

During Earth Friendly Move Out, Vanderbilt’s Office of Housing and Residential Education (OHARE) sets up donation locations across campus benefitting a variety of non-profit charities. Students can donate many items, including clothing and old textbooks, at any of these locations or post them on Vandy FreeSwap. In addition to donating, there are many convenient locations for recycling common items on campus. Electronics, tablets, computers and appliances, such as refrigerators, can be placed in the specially designated areas outdoors around the residence halls that are set up only during move out. For ink and toner cartridges, batteries, and pens, markers and mechanical pencils, recycling is available year round at the Sarratt and Commons Center main desks. Battery recycling is also available at all Reeve desks. For more traditional recycling items such as plastic, paper (including textbooks), aluminum and flattened cardboard, students are encouraged to use the residential recycling areas located next to their dumpsters rather than throwing items away. Vanderbilt also has award-winning recycling videos (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZXoHg7lHPyzt-wK9p_pZ8A) which instruct students on how to properly recycle items from their residence halls. Maps and descriptions of all recycling locations can be found on the SustainVU website (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/sustainvu/what-we-do/waste-and-recycling/)

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

A scrap metal collection program was implemented in 2014. In six years, 973 tons of scrap metal were recycled. Also in 2014, Vanderbilt donated 35 tons of wood chips to the TN State Parks Department to be used on walking paths. The wood chips resulted from downed tree limbs and debris on campus.

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

Data source(s) and notes about 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.