Waste management at Boston University is an important part of maintaining a sanitary and environmentally friendly community. Campus Planning & Operations oversees both the disposal of trash and the recycling of an increasing amount of material, from paper to furniture.


CPO works with Waste Management, Inc. to manage compactors and dumpsters on campus. BU has nearly 100 Bigbelly solar compactors on campus.

These compacting trash receptacles are self-powered, harnessing the sun’s rays for 100% of their energy needs. The units take up about the same space as traditional trash bins, but have five times the capacity for trash. Through a wireless connection, collection vehicles are alerted when Bigbelly receptacles are full. Bigbelly trash compactors have reduced on-campus trash collection from 14 times/week to an average of 1.6 times/week. Solar compaction has reduced fuel use and associated greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. The University is completing the expansion of this program to provide coverage to nearly 100% of the campus.

Also on campus are cardboard balers, machines that are used to create “bales” of cardboard that, when fully packed, can weigh between 600 and 800 pounds. Annually, these balers capture and recycle around 150 tons of cardboard on the Charles River and Medical Campuses. The balers are located at the dining facilities and a few other locations where large volumes of cardboard are produced.


In 2006, Boston University performed a waste audit on the Charles River Campus to lay the groundwork for a recycling program and discovered a waste diversion rate of 3%. By 2013, BU had reduced its total waste (incinerated, recycled, composted, and donated) by 9% while the waste diversion rate had improved from 3% to 33%. CPO works with Save That Stuff to recycle standard items like paper and cardboard, and with the Institution Recycling Network (IRN) for removal of bulky or hazardous items (known as “universal waste”).