Institutional Recycling Network (IRN)

For the past decade Boston University has made notable efforts to reuse University and non- University furnishings that are left behind each year. When properties are renovated and furniture is upgraded, the items are donated to local and overseas organizations in need through a partnership with the Institutional Recycling Network (IRN).

The IRN networks with dozens of charitable and relief organizations that use millions of pounds of surplus every year. They arrange reuse of nearly 100% of the surplus that they handle and what they can’t reuse, they recycle–at a cost that’s typically much less than disposal. Since the Surplus Program was established in 2002, it has facilitated the reuse of 25 million pounds of furniture, equipment, and supplies for relief and development in the U.S. and overseas. School and classrooms supplies are the most desperately needed for global relief.

The success rate of recycling surplus goods is reflected in numbers: In 2005, 71.35 tons of ResLife furniture (1,100 pieces of furniture) were diverted from landfills and reused. Between 2009-2010 170.109 tons (5,157 pieces of furniture) were reused.

The BU commitment also extends to off- site BU projects as well.  In 2009 the residential properties affiliated with the Tanglewood program were upgraded, and the replaced items were shipped to Honduras.  Most frequently goods are shipped to Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

IRN has also supported the BU community with additional services which include metal, electronics, appliances, wood, Universal Waste (light bulbs/ hazardous materials/ lamps), pallets, and other surplus projects such as old gymnasium floors.

The additional efforts toward a Green BU have yielded collection of the following items this past academic year:

  • 13.3 tons – appliances
  • 81.7 tons – electronics
  • 12.94 tons – metal waste