Waste Management

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


FMP works with Waste Management, Inc. to manage compactors and dumpsters on campus.

After a two-year pilot, we are rolling out an expansion to address the remaining 65% of campus by installing 36 more BigBelly Solar Compactors in addition to the 33 that were installed in the pilot program.  Once complete, nearly all of the waste & recycling operations conducted by Facilities will be through the BigBelly Solar system.

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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. Collection vehicles are alerted wirelessly 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. The solar compaction therefore reduces fuel use and associated greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. The University is completing the expansion of this program to provide coverage of nearly 100% of the campus.

The pilot was so successful in reducing labor time and waste, that we are installing several stations where there is no solar energy available – in our parking structures. These will be hard wired so that the compactors and transmitters will still let us know when trash needs to be collected. Big Belly stations will not be installed at the athletic fields because there is a high volume of waste during game times but little activity at other times. We are able to track peak times so that we can collect at the appropriate times.

Also on campus are Cardboard Balers, machines that are used to create “bales” of cardboard that, when fully packed, can weigh-in between 600-800 pounds. In February of 2009, the balers captured and recycled 6.1 tons of cardboard. These 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, & donated) by 12% while the waste diversion rate had improved from 3% to 30%. FMP works with Save That Stuff to recycle standard items like paper and cardboard, and with the Institutional Recycling Network (IRN) for removal of bulky or hazardous items (known as “universal waste“).