Waste Minimization

Waste Minimization

In the Waste Minimization category schools compete to see which produces the least amount of both recyclables and trash on a per person basis. Where other categories recognize school efforts to collect the recyclables generated on campus, this competition focuses on their efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated, including recyclables.  Results are calculated by combining the core recyclable materials (paper, cardboard and cans and bottles) and with the total trash weights for a campus and dividing this number with the campus’s population figure. Schools are recognized based on the lowest overall per person quantity.

Results are calculated using the following equation:

Weight of Recyclables + Weight of Trash
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Campus Population

Waste Minimization is unique from other categories by requiring participating schools to pledge to undertake at least three specific waste reduction practices in addition to reporting their waste generation. Schools indicate on their registration form the three practices they are or intend to implement, either choosing from a preselected list or writing in their own. The actual practices are not benchmarked or measured as part of the 8 week ranking, but rather are intended as a simple pledge of action the school will undertake.

Participation in the Waste Minimization competition may be credited by a school as one of their two required “tangible actions” under the Presidents Climate Commitment. For more information about the Commitment rules, visit: http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/.

Examples of waste minimization activities:

  1. Purchasing office equipment with waste prevention in mind (e.g. electronic interface, double-sided capabilities; sourcing and purchasing for durability, etc.)
  2. Creating accrual mechanisms to use savings in disposal costs to fund further waste reduction initiatives.
  3. Active program to sell or donate campus surplus property.
  4. Working with vendors to reduce transportation packaging (e.g. require vendors shipping on a pallet to take it back with the next delivery; redesign shipping packaging for waste minimization or recyclability, etc).
  5. Reusing and/or redistribute packing materials from central stores and campus distribution centers.
  6. Promoting inter-office reusable envelopes for campus mail and review/improve campus systems for reclaiming extra envelopes for reuse.
  7. Replacing paper documents with online alternatives wherever possible (e.g. telephone directories, course catalogs, room selection, bill payment, grade distribution, etc.) .
  8. Active program to reduce unwanted bulk mail from off-campus sources (e.g. creating an opt-out registry for staff and faculty; housing mail room send out bulk mail removal postcards on behalf of former residents, encouraging the cancellation of unnecessary or duplicate subscriptions etc.).
  9. Implementing campus printing initiatives which prohibit or discourage unlimited printing in computer labs and copy rooms (e.g. pay-per sheet pricing, etc.).
  10. Promoting the use of printer settings and paper reduction software (e.g. GreenPrint).
  11. Creating an office supplies exchange program on campus.
  12. Offering discounts or other incentives for using reusable mugs in campus dining operations.
  13. Offering reusable dinnerware and utensils in all sit-down dining facilities.
  14. Converting all-you-can-eat dining facilities to pay-per-portion system.
  15. Establishing post-consumer waste and biodegradable dinnerware composting program.
  16. Creating and promoting a system for the campus community to report wasteful practices and offer suggestions for waste reduction.
  17. Creating active program to educate employee and students about waste minimization practices (e.g. incorporating waste minimization information into new employee / new student orientation programs; giving regular presentations to campus groups and departments; setting up public displays, etc.).
  18. Recognizing waste reduction / materials management roles in relevant staff job descriptions including administrative assistants, purchasing officials, and building proctors.