Campus Sustainability Council update: Waste Working Group

Since the beginning of March, the three Working Groups of the Campus Sustainability Council have been meeting to discuss the current state of energy/emissions, water, and waste policies and practices at Tufts, and to create new policy measures in these areas.

The Waste Working Group met for the first time on March 12th and reviewed its roles and responsibilities, which include collaborating to create university-wide solid waste reduction/avoidance goals, presenting goals to the main Council for feedback and approval, and creating strategies to meet the goals, including implementation planning.

The group reviewed how Tufts manages its waste as well as consumption data. They learned that causes of waste output variations are usually hard to determine but that waste increases noticeably during a strong economy and times of high consumption, and that reduced consumption and reusing materials could impact waste output considerably. The group reviewed the waste breakdown for the past several years on the Boston and Medford campuses. Finally, the group looked into strategies for waste reduction. The waste management hierarchy follows, from most preferred to least preferred:

  • Source reduction and reuse
  • Recycling/composting
  • Energy recovery
  • Treatment and disposal

In the second meeting, the Waste Working Group decided to break down into smaller sub-groups, and the third meeting was spent working within those groups. The groups, along with their objectives, are:

  • Waste Management
    • To identify gaps and weaknesses in current waste management and address gaps, and to achieve uniformity in waste management practices wherever possible
    • Group will cover practices and metrics
  • Source Reduction
    • Group will impact waste reduction and responsible choices through purchasing contracts and client interface
  • Labs and Hospitals
    • Group will focus on laboratory and hospital waste management including animal facilities
  • Marketing and Education
    • Group will raise the level of awareness for waste reduction across all Tufts communities through behavior change

The working group members are now in the process of brainstorming goals and areas of policy change within their subgroups. Once this process is complete, the sub-groups will discuss their findings and the Waste Working Group will make a report to the Sustainability Council. The working group is co-chaired by Gretchen Kaufman, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Medicine in the Department of Environmental and Population Health and Director of the Tufts Center for Conservation Medicine at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and Dawn Quirk, Waste Reduction Program Manager in Tufts Facilities Services.

As always, Tufts community members are welcome to add their own suggestions for the working group through the easy, on-line form available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

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