2021 Move Out: Donations, Recycling, and Waste

DONATIONS

Each year during spring semester Move-Out, the Tufts Office of Sustainability collects donation items as part of its “Trash to Treasures” program. The purpose of Trash to Treasures is to divert salvageable goods from landfills and instead provide them to community members who will use them.

DONATION STATION LOCATIONS

Visualization of donation station locations.

There will be two staffed donation stations, equipped with trailers and collection bins:  

  1. Lower Campus (Haskell Hall on Latin Way)
  2. Upper Campus (Carmichael Hall Parking Lot) 

There will be four 24/7 UPod drop-off locations:*

  1. Haskell Hall on Latin Way
  2. Carmichael Hall Parking Lot
  3. Lot next to 123 Packard Ave
  4. Hill Hall parking lot

For more information about donation station and drop-off locations, visit our 2021 Move Out Donations Map.

DONATION STATION DATES AND HOURS

Wednesday, May 4th – Friday May 7th: No donation stations, but students may drop off accepted donation items at any of the four UPods 24/7

Saturday, May 8th – Saturday, May 15th: Lower and upper campus donation stations are open and staffed from 10:00am-5:00pm daily

Picture of UPods. Peel apart velcro and open using handle on side door.

OFF-HOUR DONATING

UPods are open for drop-off at all hours from May 4th through May 15th at 5:00pm.

If someone needs to donate at night or early morning when the donation stations are closed, please drop-off donations inside of one of the four UPod locations.

ACCEPTED DONATION ITEMS 

  • Clothing, sheets, shoes
  • Household items: storage containers, dorm decor, fans, vacuums, large and small lamps, mirrors, waste bins, laundry baskets
  • Dining hall dishes 
  • Books and school supplies 
  • Crutches and exercise/sports equipment
  • Unopened, non-perishable food
  • Cleaning supplies: laundry detergent, brooms and sweepers
  • Toiletries: Unopened bottles, feminine hygiene products
  • Kitchen cookware, working kitchen appliances
  • Working electronics
  • Furniture
  • Rugs
  • Media items (DVDs, VHS, CDs, vinyl records, Blu-Ray, etc.)

We will have additional collection bins at both the lower and upper campus donation stations for recycling the following:  

  • Plastic film, including grocery bags, air pillows, bubble wrap, and produce bags 
  • Broken small electronics   

We DO NOT accept:

  • Mattresses
  • Pillows
  • Hangers
  • Hazardous items (for more information about battery and lightbulb recycling at Tufts, visit our specialty recycling webpage)

RECYCLING AND WASTE 

To increase the efficiency of Tufts’ Move Out process, bring your recycling and trash to an outside dumpster. This will ease the load on our hardworking custodial and Facilities staff.

RECYCLING

Recycling dumpsters have blue lids. View up-to-date locations of campus recycling dumpsters on our Eco-Map.

View our website for more information about how-to-recycle and specialty recycling at Tufts.

TRASH

Trash dumpsters have black lids. View up to date locations of campus trash dumpsters on our Eco-Map.

There will additional be large open top trash dumpsters placed at the following locations: Harleston Hall (2), Latin Way (1), Carmichael (1), Talbot (1), Miller Hall (1), and Hill Hall (1).

View our website for more information about how to properly dispose of your waste at Tufts.

QUESTIONS?

Email recycle@tufts.edu.

New Solar Carport Installation at the Medford Campus

Design Rendering Provided by iSun Energy

Tufts University’s Auxiliary and Transportation Services department has announced the construction of a new solar carport for charging electric vehicles. The carport will be located in the Cohen Parking Lot on Lower Campus Road in Medford. It will provide charging for up to six electric vehicles. Construction of the carport will begin April 15, 2021 and is expected to be completed on April 30, 2021.

In the near term, parking spots in the carport will be on a first-come-first-served basis for Tufts University permit holders. Possible future enhancements may include the ability for electric vehicle drivers to reserve spaces using a parking management system app.

“We’re really pleased to be able to offer additional electric vehicle charging stations on the Medford campus. Not only is this a positive step toward promoting more green methods of transportation, but the carport fits squarely within Tufts’ overall commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Jason McClellan, senior director of Tufts University Auxiliary Services.

This pilot program, offered in partnership with iSun Energy, will generate energy measured by a separate meter, and excess power produced will be distributed to the grid. “By partnering with iSun and our electricity utility, the solar carport joins Tufts other solar projects in helping the Commonwealth reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2050, as required under the new comprehensive climate change legislation signed into law by Governor Baker in March, 2021,” said Tina Woolston, director of the Office of Sustainability. “This in turn, helps Tufts reach its own goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Learn about Tufts’ other solar installations

Learn about Tufts’ other sustainable transportation and commuting options.

Tufts won a bench made out of recycled plastic film!

The bench, located in the backyard of CoHo

Tufts has a range of specialty recycling programs through which its community members can sustainably dispose of items that cannot be conventionally recycled. This includes items such as batteries, ink and toner, textiles, and as of 2018—plastic film! Tufts’ plastic film recycling program is a partnership between local grocers and Trex, a composite decking company.

In September 2019, Tufts signed-up for a Trex challenge to recycle 500 pounds of plastic film in 6 months. Between student Move-In, Dining Center kitchens, the mail room, and a range of other efforts, Tufts was able to meet this goal. In turn, we won a Trex bench made out of recycled plastic film!

The plaque on the bench.

How did we win the challenge?

Learn more about how we engaged the Tufts community and recycled enough plastic film to win the challenge:  

Student Move-In and plastic film recycling:

Some plastic film from Move In 2019.

Each fall when students move back to campus, they bring with them a range of packing items, often including a large amount of plastic film such as air pillows and bubble wrap. During Fall 2019 Move-In, our recycling workers circulated the residence halls and dumpsters with special bags for collecting plastic film from students. We were able to collect 192 pounds of film during Move-In alone!

Residence hall recycling competition and waste audits:

Contamination in the recycling from one of our waste audits, mostly consisting of plastic film items.

Later in the 2019 fall semester, the Office of Sustainability (OOS) recycling team partnered with the Eco-Reps to hold a residence hall recycling competition. We judged the competition through a series of 11 waste audits in the residence halls. Through good-spirited competition, we educated about and encouraged proper recycling.

The waste audits also provided valuable qualitative and quantitative data about diversion rate, contamination rate, and the most common contaminants in the recycling stream. Contaminants are when items that cannot be conventionally recycled are placed in the recycling bin, thereby contaminating it.

Plastic film bin expansion and educational campaign:

After noting from the waste audits that plastic film items were one of the most common contaminants in the conventional recycling stream, the Eco-Reps and OOS recycling team embarked upon a plastic film recycling educational campaign. This involved a range of efforts, including but not limited to:

A plastic film specialty recycling bin
  • Starting a new plastic film specialty recycling bin at the Boston campus (currently on hiatus during COVID)
  • Creating new audience-specific plastic film recycling signage (a general sign, a mail room sign, and a sign for the Dining Center kitchens catered to their specific items)
  • Fielding staff and faculty Eco-Ambassador requests for new bins in select spots
  • Creating and sharing social media and newsletter content educating about plastic film and the specialty recycling program
  • Eco-Reps put out “pop-up” plastic film recycling collection bins in the residence halls

How can I recycle plastic film at Tufts?

Plastic film items include soft plastics such as grocery bags, bubble wrap, plastic padded-envelopes, air pillows, and even bread, cereal, and produce bags.

Our general plastic film recycling sign.

These items cannot be conventionally recycled because they get tangled in the machinery at the sorting facility. This can shut things down, costing time and money and posing a safety hazard to the people working at the facility. Watch this video to learn more about the hazards that plastic film poses when placed in the conventional recycling bin.

Reducing waste is a great away to avoid this problem, such as through using reusable bags instead of grocery bags. However, if you do find yourself with a plastic film item, specialty recycling it at Tufts or at your local grocer is a great way to divert it from the landfill!

Though the plastic film specialty recycling program was paused at Tufts due to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as of February 2021, the program is back up and running. Learn more about what to recycle on our webpage and find specialty recycling bin locations on our Eco-Map.

What happens when I recycle plastic film at Tufts?

Here’s how the full process works:

  1. Tufts community member drops their plastic film items into a plastic film specialty recycling bin on campus
  2. The Office of Sustainability’s specialty recycling intern services the bins on a regular schedule, taking the plastic film to a local grocer accepting plastic film in partnership with Trex
  3. Trex picks up the film from the grocery store. They clean and grind the film into granules and combine and heat it with sawdust. The resulting mixture is formed into boards.
  4. Plastic film is recycled into eco-friendly decking, benches, and other outdoor living products! You can learn more about this process from Trex here.
The circular economy and product transformation of plastic film recycled at Tufts.

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Green Fund Winners!

On Thursday December 10th, forty members of the Tufts community gathered virtually to watch the Green Fund finalists pitch their project ideas. After the event, the committee deliberated and the following three projects were awarded funding: 

Medford/Somerville Campus: 

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FlowGreen at Tufts, presented by Mia Nixon: FlowGreen uses QR code and landing page technology to make up-to-date recycling information and options readily accessible for Tufts community members, encouraging both a greener campus and a community committed to Zero Waste. This project will help people make informed decisions on what to recycle, and all recycling bins on campus will be outfitted with visible QR codes which are directly linked to local recycling guidelines. These FlowGreen stickers will promote engagement around proper recycling and help minimize the waste created by traditional flyers and pamphlets.  

This project was awarded funding totaling $3,590.  

Link to final presentation slides:  https://tufts.box.com/s/z6oolj76uergb8auuyqncxidu6dm3pkn 

Link to final proposal:  https://tufts.box.com/s/rbcfzwetooyuk8yqhmgyyb47bw4mvntr 

 

Boston Health Sciences Campus: 

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Tufts Hydroponics Collaboration, presented by Kevin Cody & René LaPointe Jameson: This collaborative project will fund the initial operation and implementation of hydroponics equipment recently gifted to New Entry Sustainable Farming Project creating research and experiential learning opportunities for Tufts students, as well as community engagement opportunities with an innovative agricultural technical school and grassroots non-profit organization. This project will establish a collaboration with Building Audacity of Lynn, MA and Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School to design, build, and operate commercial hydroponics equipment to achieve three primary objectives: 

  1. Develop a hydroponics farm-to-school pipeline. This will be done with Essex Tech where they will build and operate a portion of the hydroponics equipment in an already existing greenhouse on their campus in Danvers, MA with the produce going primarily to the school cafeteria. 
  2. Support food access efforts already underway with Building Audacity, a nonprofit that will build and operate a portion of the hydroponics equipment at a facility in Lynn to serve low-income communities of color.  
  3. Integrate the Tufts community in ways that will support the development of an online training course in hydroponic farming, create opportunities for workshops in adult education that serve Tufts/New Entry participants and integrate students and courses from Environmental Engineering, The Friedman School, Urban Environmental Planning, Environmental Studies/Biology, and the Department of Education.  

This project was awarded funding totaling $21,319.65

Link to final presentation slides: https://tufts.box.com/s/uzjoqhv9hs4ntqj5onvscyxotfaathqi 

Link to final proposal: https://tufts.box.com/s/t5zuev49xp42bjgwm2qrknkolj4b9w3l

 

Grafton Campus: 

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Disposable Mask Recycling, presented by Juliette Nye: This project will establish recycling boxes for disposable masks at the Grafton Campus. These boxes will be situated in the Jean Mayer Administrative Building on the Grafton Campus where students, faculty, and staff are administered their COVID-19 tests. Community members will be able to recycle their masks as opposed to throwing them in the trash, reducing waste. PPE waste can also harm wildlife through ingestion and entanglement.  

This project was awarded funding totaling $1,000

Link to final presentation slides:  https://tufts.box.com/s/nlg4g63ioo9tjbdrpj95ihqxcz71o5z5 

Link to final proposal: https://tufts.box.com/s/wemrkhj9s039jh0u9yl0ytkx7kbhokrp 

Trash Talk November: Recycling and Environmental Justice

What does recycling have to do with environmental justice? Turns out, a lot! This month, we decided to explore the intersections between recycling and waste, environmental racism, and justice. Read on to find out what we learned.

Part 1: Landfills and Plastic Production Plants

How are recycling and waste connected to environmental justice? Part 1: Landfills and Plastic Production Plants
How are recycling and waste connected to environmental justice? Part 1: Landfills and Plastic Production Plants
When we throw something in the trash, it goes to a landfill or incinerator.

Landfills release methane, the most potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
Unlike landfills, waste-to-energy incinerators burn the waste for energy, thereby reducing emissions.

Similar to landfills, however, incinerators still have negative impacts on the environment and human health.
Landfills and incinerators are disproportionately located in low income and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities, and have negative public health impacts on these communities.
Plastic Production Plants: Plastic production plants are petrochemical facilities that use fossil fuels and emit toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water.
Both surrounding residents and workers at these plants are at high risk of contracting respiratory disease, cancer, or other illness.

Like landfills and incinerators, plastic production plants are disproportionately located in low-income and BIPOC communities.
Waste reduction and recycling are forms of environmental justice.

Reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills and incinerators by making smart purchasing decisions that avoid trash items, and even better: refuse to buy into the waste system all together and say no to plastic.

Part 2: Recycling Workers

How are recycling and waste connected to environmental justice? Part 2: Recycling Workers
Recycling is a glamorous topic in the world of sustainability, but we don’t often think about the dirty underbelly. When we throw something away, it doesn’t just go “poof” and disappear. It goes somewhere, and from landfills to sorting facilities, there is someone on the other end of our waste!
When contaminants end up in the recycling bin, they can get caught in the machinery at the sorting facility, shutting it down, costing money, and posing a safety hazard to the workers who sort them out at the conveyer belt. Such contaminants include wires, hoses, and any soft plastics such as grocery bags.
Additionally, placing sharp items into the recycling bin can pose a hazard to custodial staff, who are not expecting it when handling the bags.
What does this mean for us? For the safety of our recycling and waste workers, who are often members of the communities that we advocate for, avoid contaminating the recycling stream. Know your local recycling rules, and when in doubt about whether something can be recycled, throw it out!

Part 3: Where does Trash from Tufts Go?

Part 3: Where does Trash from Tufts go?
Proximity to waste facilities increases the vulnerability of communities. We decided to learn more about the people and places near where trash from Tufts goes.
The majority of Tufts’ trash goes to the Covanta Haverfill Facility, a waste-to-energy facility.

Waste-to-energy facilities burn waste for energy and are preferable to landfills. Covanta Haverfull is committed to sustainable waste management.

Still, the incineration process pollutes nearby communities with toxins that diminish health.
In the area surrounding the facility:
44% of residents identify as a racial minority
34% of residents are low-income
17% of adults have less than a high school education
17% of households are linguistically isolated
Reducing waste and choosing to recycle your recyclable items lessens the impact Tufts has on these communities.

What will you do to reduce waste, starting today?

Part 4: Massachusetts Landfills and their Communities

Recycling and Environmental Justice Part 4: Massachusetts Landfills and their communities
Graphic depicts the locations of active landfills in Massachusetts, Environmental Justice communities in Massachusetts, and the geographical relation between the two.
Graphic depicts a close-up of the destinations of Tufts’ trash and their relation to Environmental Justice communities.
As defined by MassGIS, EJ communities meet one or all of the following conditions:
-Greater than 25% minority population (M)
-Median income less than or equal to 65% of state median income (I)
-greater than 25% of the population is English-isolated, meaning no person over the age of 14 speaks English “very well” in a household (E)

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