Trash Sorts

Blog posts about Trash Audits here!

Click below to see the results from our trash sorts!

  • The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford/Somerville February 2012

    TuftsRecycles! sorted the trash from several locations within the Fletcher building complex and found the following:

    • Among the locations surveyed, on average about 33% of trash contents could have been recycled.
    • Among the locations surveyed, roughly 21% of all paper bin contents were in fact not recyclable
    • Among the locations surveyed , roughly 24% of all plastics bin contents were in fact not recyclable.

    Overall, the majority of people within the Fletcher complex seem to be recycling normally. A good portion of the 33% of recyclable trash and 23-30% of contaminated recycling can be attributed to laziness or carelessness, while some seem to be willing to recycle but are misguided or confused as to what goes where.

    Compared to previous trash sorts of Fletcher, contamination rates have remained relatively constant. In 2008, roughly 29% of trash could have been recycled, compared with 33% this year.

  • The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford/Somerville December 2008

    The sort from this building revealed that at least 80% of the trash that was not recyclable originated from take-out food and catering.




    One important finding was that the janitors cleaning this building were throwing away perfectly good paper towels and toilet paper because the rolls were almost out. This issue is being addressed.

  • Arts & Sciences Campus, Medford/Somerville November 2007

    Forty bags of trash from one dormitory was sorted. Almost 26% of the trash sorted could have been recycled (by volume, we did not weigh).

    Much of the recyclable waste found in the trash originated from
    food – cereal and cracker boxes, food containers, etc.

    Open and unopened groceries within their expiration date

    • Quart of milk
    • 2 rolls of toilette paper
    • Six packages of crackers
    • Two bags of chips
    • Bottle of water
    • Package of rice cakes
    • Handful of lollipops
    • Package of sliced ham

    Reusable items found in the trash

    • Bottle of nail polish remover
    • Pair of socks
    • Six bras
    • T-shirt
    • Towel
    • Two book bags


  • Dental School, August 2007


    "Recycling": "Trash":
    158 lbs. Total 571.5 lbs. Total
    0 lbs. B & C 0% 431 lbs. Non-Recyclables 64.20%
    156 lbs. Paper 98.73% 121 lbs.! Paper 21.92%
    2 lbs. Non-Recyclables (trash) 1.27% 19.5 lbs. B & C 13.88%
    Total Non-Recyclables in "recycling" 1.27% Total Recyclables in "trash" 35.80%

    A second audit of the dental school's waste revealed a big improvement in recycling contamination; only 1.3% of the recycling was contaminated with trash, down from 16% in 2005.

    Unfortunately, of the 571 pounds of trash sorted, a whopping 140 pounds was recyclable material, a 13% improvement from 2005.

    In total, 25% of the audited trash was recyclable material.

    The most common recyclables found in the trash were bottles and cans, paper and files. We also found two batteries, magazines, journals, and even a large text book. There were also unused items in the trash such as three sleeves of disposable cups, some type of dental tool kit, a box of medical gloves and two full bottles of “Super-Sep". Click here for the Daily article!

  • Dental School, August 2005

    The Tufts Dental School is set in a congested section of Boston and is attached to the Tufts New England Medical Center. Due to a lack of central storage space, waste from the dental school is mixed with the hospital's. It is essential that we audit the trash because we have no way to segregate the weight of our own trash.

    "Recycling": "Trash":
    75 lbs. Total 267 lbs. Total
    33 lbs. B & C 44.00% 165 lbs. Non-Recyclables 61.80%
    30 lbs. Paper 40.00% 74 lbs.! Paper 27.72%
    12 lbs. Non-Recyclables (trash) 16.00% 28 lbs. B & C 10.49%
    Total Non-Recyclables in "recycling" 16.00% Total Recyclables in "trash" 38.20%

    The first audit occured in the summer of 2005. As you can see, we found a lot of recycling in the trash! Thirty eight percent of the trash could have been recycled and the materials that were recycled contained sixteen percent trash contamination.