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 2012 BU had reduced its total waste (incinerated, recycled, composted, & donated) by 11% while the waste diversion rate had improved from 3% to 32%. These improvements in waste reduction and recycling can be attributed to several factors: trayless dining, food waste composting, and a grassroots effort by concerned faculty, staff and students across campus.
In November 2009, the University began to roll-out the recycling infrastructure needed to support a more complete program. The campus was divided into sections to best implement the system. Each week a new area was assessed by a team from Facilities Management & Planning and a representative from Save That Stuff, the University’s recycling vendor. The team walked through each floor in every building to design integrated recycling and waste stream systems that would increase the convenience of recycling, clearly communicate what can be recycled, and reduce the volume of the University’s waste.
In 2012, Boston University’s total waste (excluding construction projects) was 9,765 tons, of which 68% was incinerated at a waste-to-energy facility and 32% of total waste was diverted:
- About 16% of total waste was recycled
- About 13% of total waste was composted
- About 3% of total waste was donated
Currently, Boston University recycles many materials including aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper, coffee cups, plastics, and clean milk and juice containers. In addition to these traditional materials, BU recycles batteries, cell phones, computers and other electronic waste, fluorescent light bulbs and ballasts, ink & toner cartridges, appliances, metals, and construction materials.
Learn more about Boston University’s Recycling Program
Learn more about Boston University’s Medical Campus Recycling Program
Recycling coordinators across campus work with the sustainability@BU team and Mike Lyons, senior buyer in Facilities Management & Planning. If you’re interested in becoming a recycling coordinator for your area, please contact us.
The University continues to identify best practices and find opportunities to reduce waste, reuse materials, and recycle products at the end of their useful life.
Some of the Boston University’s recent waste reduction projects:
- Construction projects completed in 2011 leading to 351 tons of waste diversion
- Donating 54 tons of furniture for reuse overseas in May 2009
- Installing bailers in all dining facilities to accommodate cardboard recycling
- “Zero Waste” commencement efforts leading to 86.6 tons of material diverted since May 2009
- Annual reusable mug distribution to provide a sustainable alternative to the use of paper cups and single use plastic bottles
- $.25 reusable mug discount at every coffee-serving location on campus
- “We Bagged the Box” program to replace cardboard boxes with paper bags, a collaboration with Office Depot for all office deliveries
- Paperless payroll
- Electronic recycling through the Institutional Recycling Network (IRN)
- Extending ink cartridge and battery recycling to Resident Life Offices
- Online chemical reuse inventory for laboratories on campus
- Limiting printing for all students with a fee for exceeding allocation
- Double-sided printing available at all on-campus print center locations
- All course catalogs, student schedules, and directories available online
- Integrating the Green Team with Scarlet Squad volunteers for 2012 move-in
- Yard waste composting program