Achieve Zero Waste

What is Zero Waste?

  • Conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health (Zero Waste International Alliance).
  • Achieved when 90% of waste is diverted from the landfill or incineration.
  • A whole-systems approach to rethink and redesign resource life cycles to mirror those found in nature.

Ways You Can Help Get to Zero

These programs provide ways for you to help us stop needless waste.

Choose to Reuse

On February 1, 2023, Boston University Dining launched “Choose to Reuse.” The program makes checking out a reusable container a lot like checking out a library book and allows the BU community to have their food served with a reusable container instead of disposables. The program is open to students, staff, and faculty, and available at multiple locations at the GSU (Basho, CRBC, Greens & Grains, Halal Shack, Panda Express, Rhett’s, and The Coop), and now available starting in the fall of 2023 at Saxbys, Late Nite @ Warren Towers, and Late Nite @ West Campus, and Bay State Underground.

The disposable container fee at participating locations is $2.50. Additionally, Saxbys now has reusable cups as part of the Choose to Reuse initiative, with a $1.00 fee for disposable cups. By selecting either ‘Choose to Reuse’ or ‘Dine In,’ you’ll save money and reduce waste!

*Choose to Reuse will be the only packaging option for food orders from Late Nite @ Warren Towers, and Late Nite @ West Campus. Bay State Underground will offer reusable dishware for ‘dine in’ and Choose to Reuse for to-go.

To learn more, click here.

Reusables @ BU

BU has numerous bottle-filling stations across campus and is installing more. To find the closest one to you, please refer to the interactive campus map. *Note as of FALL 2023*: There are multiple bottle filling stations that were installed in the summer of 2023 that have yet to be populated to the map.

Throughout the year, the BU community is able to win prizes such as reusable mugs, water bottles, bamboo utensils, or notebooks at events such as Sustainability Festival, Earth Week, Sustainability App Challenges, and more.

Surplus Furniture Program

University departments can browse available surplus or remanufactured furniture or donate gently used furniture for reuse within BU. This convenient and cost-effective option allows departments to outfit spaces while reusing furniture.

Goodwill, Not Landfill

Boston University students donate items to Goodwill during move-out. Donation bins are located in the largest residence halls across campus. This program has successfully diverted hundreds of tons of clothing, household items, and more from the landfill.

Paper Reduction

Paper reduction includes reducing student printing quotas, eliminating cover sheets from printing stations, and implementing paperless payroll for all employees.

Sustainability Ambassadors

During undergraduate orientation, Sustainability Ambassadors help new students learn how to incorporate reusables into daily life and engage in proper waste sorting.

Student Programs

BU Sustainability supports a variety of student groups with their initiatives throughout campus. Examples include:

  • Questrom Mug Spot, which provides reusable mugs at the Questrom Starbucks
  • Paper straws in retail locations
  • Food waste diversion at the Medical Campus
  • Zero Waste event consultation
  • Enhanced recycling in residence halls

Cardboard Recycling during Move-In Week

Every year at Move-In Week, BU designates areas at residence halls across campus to facilitate recycling of cardboard boxes.

Shredding Day with IS&T

Each semester, BU Sustainability and IS&T work together to collect surplus e-waste, paper, batteries, lightbulbs, toners, and more from the Boston University community to facilitate secure disposal and promote recycling.

Learn more

Read BU’s Zero Waste Plan and meet the Zero Waste Implementation Task Force.

Follow BU’s progress on waste diversion.

Learn how to recycle at BU.