Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.57
Liaison Jeff Spoelstra
Submission Date July 22, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Western Michigan University
OP-23: Waste Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.38 / 3.00 Carolyn Noack
Manager-Waste Reduction Services
Office for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Materials diverted from the solid waste landfill or incinerator:
1,377.53 Tons

Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator :
1,606.46 Tons

A brief description of programs, policies, infrastructure investments, outreach efforts, and/or other factors that contributed to the diversion rate, including efforts made during the previous three years:

WMU’s waste reduction program is housed in the Office for Sustainability. There is an extensive recycling program from common recyclables such as paper and cardboard to less common materials such as electronic media, gypsum board and antifreeze. The university is writing a formal solid waste management plan which is expected to be implemented by fall 2014. We recycle paper, cardboard, metal containers, plastic containers #1-#7, brown, green and clear glass containers, batteries (rechargeable and non-rechargeable), carpet, electronics, electronic media, fluorescent bulbs, scrap metal, motor oil, polystyrene foam, tires, antifreeze and inkjet and toner cartridges. We compost yard waste and have a pilot vermicomposting system for pre-consumer food waste. Dining Services collects all pre-consumer food waste from kitchens and donates to a local farmer for animal food. Some prepared food is distributed to local shelters. Our surplus operation handles sales and donations of all useable materials and equipment from vehicles and furniture to electronics and laboratory supplies.

Starting in January of 2012, WMU has been transferring the handling of recyclables from buildings from student staff to regular custodial staff. This has shifted some of the responsibility for handling waste materials to the generator, thereby making him/her more aware of which materials are recyclable. Also, custodians are always in building so unsightly overflows have been eliminated.

In addition to the transfer of recycling to custodial staff, we are phasing in new stainless steel recycling and trash stations to replace our plastic recycling bins and multiple types of trash containers. These new stations have updated signage in bold colors explaining what can be placed into each container and where the contents will go (landfill, recycling or compost).

A brief description of any food donation programs employed by the institution:

WMU collects kitchen prep waste (fruit and vegetable only) and donates it to Bearfoot Farms for use as hog food. Bearfoot Farms provides the transportation. Last year (calendar year 2013) we donated 78,500 pounds.

For all other food donations we work with the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission. The Gospel Mission uses a volunteer driver to come to campus most Saturdays to pick up donated food. At the end of the fall and spring semester, they come to each dining unit to pick up food.

The primary food donated is produce items. At the end of the semesters, we also donate left over dairy products and in some cases, bread products. Occasionally, we have left over prepared food that has been properly cooled per Food Code, and these items are donated, such as Macaroni and Cheese or Lasagna. At the end of the semesters, we may have some items to donate that are getting close to a manufacturer's best used by date such as cereals or salad dressings.

A food product is only donated if we are certain it cannot be used in Dining Services. It is never our plan to purchase or produce food that will be donated or disposed of. Purchasing and production are the keys to minimizing food waste, and that is what we emphasize and put our effort into. Given that we want to provide all customers with a choice of all menu items, we do generate waste as the student entering five minutes before we close should have the same choices as the student entering when we open. Some of the items that do get disposed of are items we cannot reuse or save or donate, such as left over French Fries. If items were on a customer's plate or could have been contaminated by a customer, we dispose of the item.

We have recipes for every item we prepare and the cooling instructions is at the bottom of every recipe per Food Code requirements.

Dining Service moves food around campus to avoid letting it go out of date. The idea is food is rotated throughout all of campus, in addition to each individual dining location.

A brief description of any pre-consumer food waste composting program employed by the institution:

WMU has a pilot vermicomposting project in our greenhouse. We collect food waste and paper towel from the Office for Sustainability for this project.

A brief description of any post-consumer food waste composting program employed by the institution:


Does the institution include the following materials in its waste diversion efforts?:
Yes or No
Paper, plastics, glass, metals, and other recyclable containers Yes
Food donations Yes
Food for animals Yes
Food composting No
Cooking oil Yes
Plant materials composting Yes
Animal bedding composting No
Batteries Yes
Light bulbs Yes
Toner/ink-jet cartridges Yes
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets Yes
Motor oil Yes
Tires Yes

Other materials that the institution includes in its waste diversion efforts:


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.