Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Chelsea Hamilton
Submission Date March 3, 2023

STARS v2.2

Vanderbilt University
OP-18: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Chelsea Hamilton
Sustainability Outreach Program Manager
Environmental Health, Safety, and Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 3,280.31 Tons 5,058.25 Tons
Materials composted 231.51 Tons 117.76 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 217.26 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 4,850.18 Tons 5,806.24 Tons
Total waste generated 8,579.26 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, 2021 June 30, 2022
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 5,618 6,210
Number of employees resident on-site 24 7
Number of other individuals resident on-site 28 832
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 13,198 11,037
Full-time equivalent of employees 5,492 19,437
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 15,456 25,241.75

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.56 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:
314.46 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:

In 2019, Vanderbilt 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 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.

Vanderbilt University is committed to environmental stewardship and natural resource protection. As part of that commitment, Vanderbilt Campus Dining, the university’s nationally-recognized foodservice operator launched a reusable container program, designed to significantly reduce the institution’s dependence on disposable to-go containers.

Starting in 2022, Campus Dining partnered with Fill it Forward to offer reusable to-go containers at all residential dining halls. Each undergraduate student received one free container that can be used in all-you-care-to-eat residential dining locations and can be returned for cleaning and sanitizing. Using the Fill it Forward app, students can track their return, then scan a new code to rent a new container. https://campusdining.vanderbilt.edu/campus-dining-introduces-new-reusable-to-go-program/

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 2020 Vanderbilt announced a new partnership with PepsiCo as the official beverage provider of the university in efforts to continue reducing waste. PepsiCo will provide the university with beverages packaged in either glass or aluminum to align with Vanderbilt Campus Dining’s “No More Plastic” campaign, while also providing a variety of drinks to account for student needs.

In 2016 an 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.

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.

Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) Environmental Affairs Committee regularly hosts a pop-up thrift shop. Over a thousand items including blouses, pants, shoes, coats, blankets, and even some electronics were donated and were available at the event for students to “shop” for free. The event was intended to reduce clothing waste, bring awareness to sustainable fashion, and promote equity, while allowing students to add “new-to-them” items into their wardrobe without a cost.

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 FutureVU Sustainability website https://www.vanderbilt.edu/sustainability/reduce-waste/

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 nine years, 1171 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.

Vanderbilt also collects and saves trees that have fallen due to storm damage or must be removed for other reasons. The trees are then available to be milled and used in future projects, creating a cycle of reuse of the trees that once grew 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.