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In fiscal year 2016, Emory diverted 55 percent of waste materials from landfill

Emory Report | March 22, 2017

During the 2016 fiscal year, Emory successfully diverted 55 percent of waste materials from the landfill. With an almost 5 percent increase from 2015, the university is making progress toward achieving the goal of 95 percent diversion by 2025.

“Food waste composting, which increased by 772.34 tons, had a big impact on this year’s numbers,” says Deena Keeler, assistant director of auxiliary services. “Emory Dining expanded composting to all of their satellite dining outlets outside of Cox Hall and the DUC.  I believe capturing food waste from production, as well as consumption, has contributed to our large increase. We are also collecting more animal bedding from the Division of Animal Resources research facilities."

Emory Recycles collects and sorts materials from university, research and hospital facilities. Sorted materials are picked up by compost or recycling vendors and processed offsite. The most common materials collected include food waste, paper products and reusable materials like books, textiles and surplus furniture.

When possible, Emory creates a closed loop cycle for waste materials. Compost, which comprises 41 percent of Emory’s diverted waste, breaks down into soil and returns to campus for use in landscaping. Additionally, furniture from on-campus departments is available for purchase through Emory’s Surplus Property.

Each November, Emory Recycles and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives coordinate a campus-wide building recycling competition to encourage students, faculty and staff to recycle and compost more, improving the university's diversion rates. Composting and recycling totals are collected for all participating buildings and compared to totals from the prior November to determine which building’s total increased the most from the previous year.

The 2016 winner is Cox Hall, diverting 6,890 more pounds from the landfill than in 2015. The $3,000 prize will be utilized to further enhance the sustainability features of the building.

To continue Emory’s collective progress, Emory’s Campus Services hired a consulting team made up of Seattle-based Cascadia Consulting Group and Kansas City-based Burns & McDonnell to create a comprehensive Materials Management Master Plan. The plan will include an assessment of all of Emory University’s waste streams and present actionable means of increasing landfill diversion.

Faculty, staff and students can help Emory reach the goal of 95 percent waste diversion by composting, recycling and reusing materials when possible. Join the Office of Sustainability Initiatives weekly newsletter to learn more recycling and composting tips, to learn about the on-going nationwide Recyclemania competition in which Emory is enrolled, and to sign up as a Commencement zero-waste volunteer to help keep waste out of the landfill. Additionally, if your office needs appropriate waste diversion bins, please contact Emory Recycles.