Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Phil Valko
Submission Date March 6, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Washington University in St. Louis
OP-19: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Cassandra Hage
Sustainability Manager
Office of 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 3,227.17 Tons 1,128.80 Tons
Materials composted 695.31 Tons 2.70 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 3.50 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 4,762.44 Tons 7,123 Tons
Total waste generated 8,688.42 Tons 8,254.50 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility, including affirmation that materials are sorted prior to conversion to recover recyclables and compostable materials:
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Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2018 June 30, 2019
Baseline Year July 1, 2009 June 30, 2010

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):

N/A


Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 4,902 3,998
Number of employees resident on-site 13 20
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 25 1,124
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 16,323 11,548
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 15,923 10,413
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 190 0
Weighted campus users 25,295.75 18,599.25

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.34 Tons 0.44 Tons

Percentage reduction in total waste generated per weighted campus user from baseline:
22.61

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling, performance year:
45.19

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator (including up to 10 percent attributable to post-recycling residual conversion):
45.19

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 No
Pallets No
Tires No
Other (please specify below) Yes

A brief description of other materials the institution has recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold:

Construction & Demolition Waste (included in C&D section); electronics and recyclable universal wastes (through the EH&S department) is included under Hazardous Waste. Labrotory equipment is also captured in ewaste in the Hazardous Waste category.

White goods/appliances, while recycled are not reported above because while they were separately recorded from electronics in our baseline year (FY2010), they are reported within electronics in FY2019 (because our vendor accepts "anything with a cord").

Many surplus furniture items are recirculated within the university or donated outside of the university. However, tracking systems are decentralized and immature, so this material stream is absent from diversion data.


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) :
2 Tons

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?:
Yes

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?:
No

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?:
No

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program (percentage, 0-100):
5

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:

The Office of Sustainability works closely with waste haulers to identify areas that have unacceptable contamination. When an area is flagged, sustainbility staff notify custodial or kitchen teams.

The compost hauler rejects all 64 gallon totes that have contamination above 3%. The university is fined when this happens. The tote "owner" is notified and asked to address the issue through training or alerts.

Custodial teams are trained to recognize when bags of recycling have too much contamination and are empowered to throw out the contaminated bags when they see them.

Recycling and compost haulers send monthly weight reports to the Office of Sustainability and flag any rejected loads. Load rejections have significantly decreased over the last 3 years.


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:

The Green Ambassador program challenges students to take leadership in promoting recycling and composting at the dining halls. 30+ students participate in a variety of outreach initiates during the 9-day freshman orientation program and the first couple weeks of classes. The most important strategy is having staffed stations in the residential halls to help new students learn to sort waste.

Residential composting is available as an opt-in program to the 3,500 students living on campus in the freshman and sophomore housing area. It serves about 1,500 residents.

Signage with graphics identifying which materials go where are displayed above sorting containers at all of the major dining areas. All bins also have labels with images for the recycle/landfill containers across campus.

The university employs green waste stations at large events to create near-zero waste events, diverting as much as 95% of waste from landfill. Waste stations are available to rent for any campus event, and are utilized at around 50 events/year.

WashU shifted to a "straws upon request" policy in 2019, effectively removing straws from the dining areas. "Sippy cup" lids are now universal as an alternative for to-go cups.

WashU was the first university in North America to ban bottled water sales on campus in 2009, installing water fountain retrofits with accompanying signage to show the impact of the ban, saving 500,000 bottles annually, the equivalent of 15,000 gallons of oil each year.


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

The Office of Sustainability works closely with its waste haulers, dining partners, custodial staff and the MRF facilities to monitor contamination rates and rejected loads.

Occasional waste audits are performed in Residential Halls and high-use dining areas. In FY20 (starting Sept 2019), frequent visual audits of front-of-house collection containers have been conducted, particularly where compost collection has been introduced or is in place as an ongoing service to gauge if the sorting process is happening properly. This enables quick feedback for staff and has confirmed low rates of contamination.

In areas where grab-and-go dining are offered, contamination in waste recepticals tends to be much higher.

Whenever contamination loads occur, alerts are sent to the Office of Sustainability, Dining Partners, and Custodial Managers to identify potential issues and notify staff.

Larger waste audits are conducted by student volunteers and Office of Sustainability interns. The
students receive and sort two full pulls of all three waste streams (compost, recycling and
landfill) weighing the waste both before and after the sorting process. Audits are conducted in food service/dining areas, which tend to be more contaminated that office and classroom containers.

2-4 waste audits are conducted annually in target dining areas.


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

A section within the Environmental Purchasing Policy sums up the relevant procurement policies designed to prevent and reduce waste (https://resourcemanagement.wustl.edu/purchasing-services/environmental/environmentally-preferred-purchasing/):

1. Waste Reduction

Reducing unnecessary waste on the front-end allows the university to both minimize the inefficient use of our natural resources and benefit economically from decreased handling and disposal costs.

Examples may include:

Purchase remanufactured products such as laser toner cartridges, furniture, equipment and automotive parts whenever practicable, but without reducing safety, quality or effectiveness or adding to cost.
Purchase products that are durable, long lasting, reusable or refillable.
Require suppliers to reduce packaging, where possible, without affecting the safety of the products during transit.
Request packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable when suitable uses and programs exist.
Reuse pallets and packaging materials.

Major initiatives to reduce waste through purchasing include the ban on the sale of bottled water and the strawless lids on to-go cups.

Major vendors, like Dell and Apple are encouraged to send minimal packaging and shift packaging to recyclable when possible. The Resource Management (Purchasing) department encourages purchases through approved vendors. The IT Department sources the majority of their machines from the same source.


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

Many departments dispose of surplus property through informal networks. Donation to charities is easy, so it happens often. On both main campuses, facilities and building managers promote items for internal reuse frequently.

Two programs have launched within the last year to support more internal and external reuse: the Office Supply Exchange and an online Exchange platform for the university community (via 3rd party Rheaply).

The Office Supply Exchange (https://sustainability.wustl.edu/get-involved/staff-faculty/green-offices/office-supply-exchange/) is an internal program where surplus office supplies are sent to a central location (Campus Mail & Receiving) where they are sorted and posted online. Other offices can request from this inventory, which is then delivered to them via campus mail (partnership with Campus Mail and Office of Sustainability).

The Rheaply tool is an online platform where people can post what they want or what they have, and others can request or fulfill the posted requests. We are still building up the user base, but the tool is streamline, cross departmental, and easy to access. (https://sustainability.wustl.edu/surplus-property/)


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):

The on campus student free-store, the Trading Post, collects and gives away many student items while gathering and selling the higher quality second-hand items at the end of the year.

The Rheaply platform and Office Supply Exchange facilitates peer to peer exchange and reuse; rentals/borrowing can also be facilitated through this tool.

Our Green Office Program encourages seeking reuse items before purchasing new.


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):

Students receive a limited printing quota each semester for printing on-campus in academic labs as well as in residential areas. In 2009, WashU began using PaperCut, a software system that all students use to put their print job in a virtual queue and release the job upon arrival at the printer. If they don't go to the printer to release the job, the print job goes away after 12 hrs. When students view their print account balance, it shows them the environmental impact of their annual printing (# of trees, CO2 emissions, etc.)

Duplex printing is less expensive per page than single sheets. Black and white printing is much less expensive than color. (https://sts.wustl.edu/services/printing/)

WashU IT is integrating a practice to set up all new computer to include paper and ink saving defaults (double sided, gray scale).


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:

An increasing number of schools and departments across our campuses are pursuing a paperless office by shifting from paper to electronic records.

Our Green Office Program encourages offices to consider their paper use and document printing to identify documents that may be able to be provided electronically. We are aware of several departments who have made these changes, resulting in significant paper savings.

High count print jobs are commonly published electronically. The Public Affairs Office supports the design and web development of electronic media. The course catalog, bulletins, course schedules and directories have been exclusively online for years.

There are many examples where course catalogs, schedules, directories, etc. have been switched to digital media. Commencement and other events use apps for getting information to attendees, rather than print material. All course descriptions and registration is online. Canvas is a robust education platform that is used for all courses. Many instructors rely on canvas for online testing, posting slides and syllabus, and submitting assignments.


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

WU Green Ambassadors partner with housekeeping staff to sort and recycle most of the move-in waste, including special collections for styrofoam and soft plastics. Cardboard and other collected recyclables are also sorted through to ensure they are not contaminated with packaging materials. The rate of recycling at Move-in is very high. In addition, the First Year Center and ResLife send out materials encouraging students to coordinate with their roommates and informs them of items available in common spaces so students reduce what they bring or buy for their rooms.

Share Our Stuff (S.O.S.) is the University's annual event to protect the environment and support those in need in our community by donating the unwanted goods discarded during campus move out. This university-wide collaborative is designed to make it quick and easy for all students to recycle their unwanted items in a location convenient to them whether on or off-campus. 10 box trucks were filled with donated materials in May 2016. (https://sustainability.wustl.edu/share-our-stuff-campaign-supports-regional-community/)

Every year, the Office of Sustainability partners with Residential Life, our housing subsidiary in Quadrangle Management Co., Community and Government Relations, and various student groups to collect, recycle, and donate these goods to those in need within our community. Proceeds go to support local charities.


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

E-waste collection sites give students and faculty the ability to recycle valuable electronic materials. All university-owned e-waste must be properly recycled through the EH&S Department. We also hold 2 annual e-waste recycling drives for students, staff and faculty. In addition, this year we posted signage in the trash rooms of all residential halls informing students that they can take their e-waste to the Student Technology Center for recycling.

In 2017, 10,000 board feet of lumber was salvaged from 20 100-year trees that were removed for a construction project. Local craftsman consulted to ensure that the trees were cut to a variety of sizes that would easily facilitate creative reuse in interior and exterior design/furnishing applications.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.