Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 71.02
Liaison Dennis Cochrane
Submission Date Oct. 15, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Virginia Tech
OP-18: Waste Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.48 / 3.00 Dennis Cochrane
Director, Office of Sustainability
Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure and Facilities
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Materials recycled, composted, reused, donated, re-sold, or otherwise diverted :
17,336.20 Tons

Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator :
3,613.84 Tons

A brief description of programs, policies, infrastructure investments, outreach efforts, and/or other factors that contributed to the diversion rate:

The Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment (VTCAC) Resolution was approved by our Board of Visitors on June 1, 2009. Point #8 stated “Virginia Tech will adopt a goal to achieve a 35% recycling rate by 2012 and 50% by 2025.” Using the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Environmental Quality formula, the university achieved a 36.5% recycling rate in calendar year 2009 and surpassed the 35% recycling rate goal three years ahead of schedule.

The recycling rates for calendar years 2010, 2011, and 2012 recycling rates continued upward and were 37.5%, 40.14% and 44.13% respectively. The 44.13% represented the highest recycling rate the university has ever achieved. Simultaneously the amount of municipal solid waste was downward.
Point #6 in the VTCAC states “Virginia Tech will improve the sustainability of its built environment by achieving LEED Silver certification or better for all eligible and applicable new buildings and major renovations.” In calendar year 2012 our robust construction program reused or recycled 16,780.24 tons of construction material which directly contributed to our achieving an 84.0% waste diversion rate-the highest ever. In calendar year 2013 we reused or recycled 15,100.11 tons of construction material and we achieved an 82.75% diversion rate.

As a result of our recycling successes, the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment (VTCAC) was revised by the Energy and Sustainability Committee, a university governance committee, and it approved by the University Council on May 6, 2013. Point #8 timeframe to reach a 50% recycling rate was accelerated 5 years from 2025 to 2020. It now reads: “Virginia Tech will minimize waste and achieve a 50% recycle rate by 2020.” See point #8: http://www.it.vpas.vt.edu/docs/sust/op18/PPM262rev1.pdf

In January 2014 Virginia Tech initiated the deployment of 100 Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors with accompanying Bottle & Can Recycling Containers. Using wireless technology sensors located in each unit transmits a signal to the collection team informing them of the status of that particular station. Big Belly Daily Fullness Reports are provided to the collection team each morning alerting them as to which specific container needs to be served. The trash compactor is activated by a battery powered by solar power. It can compact up to five times and holds approximately 175 pounds of waste. It will streamline our collection process, it will reduce our labor costs, and it will reduce the use of vehicles which lowers maintenance costs and GHGs. See: http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2014/01/012314-vpa-bigbelly.html

Dining Services has established a dynamic compositing program. In Calendar Year 2008 Virginia Tech established a partnership with Poplar Manor Enterprises, LLC and introduced a composting pilot program at our Southgate Food Processing Center. Results were very impressive. The following year composting was introduced at the Owens Hall Dining Facility and these two facilities composted 131 tons of food waste. During Calendar Year 2010 the university introduced composting at the Dietrick Dining Hall (the largest dining facility on campus), several other smaller dining venues, and at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. Composting was a key feature in the design of the dining facility “Turner Place at Lavery Hall,” the largest component of our new administration and student affairs building. Over 325, 406, and 582 tons of food waste were composted at Virginia Tech in Calendar Years 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively. Dining Services is now composting in all 12 on campus dining facilities, with a total amount of nearly 600 tons for 2013. Without question, composting has played a significant role in Virginia Tech achieving increased recycling rates.

The Ytoss Program is a partnership with the YMCA at Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech Recycling. Held during student move-out at the end of the spring semester, this program has the goal of capturing no longer needed, but reusable, residence hall furniture, appliances, etc. that would have been gone in the trash and delivered to the local landfill. Ytoss 2011 captured 20,000 pounds of reusable products which were later resold during student move-in at the beginning of the following fall semester. The Ytoss 2012 event collected 27,000 pounds of reusable materials and Ytoss 2013 collected over 10,000 pounds.

Revision 2 to University Policy 5505 “Campus Energy, Water, and Waste Reduction” was approved by the Vice President for Administration on February 28, 2011, and the waste reduction section was added. See: http://www.policies.vt.edu/5505.pdf
The Office of Energy and Sustainability developed the “Comprehensive Waste Management Plan for Virginia Tech” on July 15, 2011. See: http://facilities.vt.edu/documents/sustainability/unlinked/Comprehensive_Waste_Mangement_Plan_Virginia_Tech_7_15_2011_Final.pdf

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