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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.06
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date April 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Columbia University
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.46 / 5.00 Helen Bielak
Manager
Environmental Stewardship
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 8,358.50 Tons 7,519 Tons
Materials composted 9.50 Tons 0 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 13 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 49,384.50 Tons 50,187.50 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 11,039 10,794
Number of residential employees 1,523 1,450
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 24,921 21,263
Full-time equivalent of employees 18,379 17,768
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 793 793

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2013 June 30, 2014
Baseline Year July 1, 2010 June 30, 2011

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted:

This is the earliest year for which we have data to report.


A brief description of any (non-food) waste audits employed by the institution:

A Recycling Improvement working Group was organized to analyze recycling behaviors in one first year & one senior residence halls. Waste Audits were conducted, dedicated recycling rooms were built, new color coded receptacles were purchased and staged and new signage from The New York city Department of Sanitation was placed


A brief description of any institutional procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

Sustainability Directive:

Storeroom Solutions is committed to supporting environmental initiatives that reduces impact on the environment. To this end, all purchasing personnel are directed to:

1. Identify and present to environmentally friendly materials which provide equivalent service and performance
2. Develop supply base that embraces “green” not only in their products but also in their operation and culture
3. Provide quarterly reporting on sustainability initiatives including actual dollars spend


A brief description of any surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

Surplus Reuse when possible is used on campus or given to schools or local non-profit organizations with priority to organizations affiliated with Columbia Community Service. Whatever remains unclaimed goes to the Build It Green, NYC Waste Match program, which includes non-profits in the other four boroughs. Columbia also partners with the Institutional Recycling Network (IRN) where changed out dorm furniture and used equipment – like kitchen equipment is given. In the past equipment has gone to several countries in the Caribbean and to disaster relief in Haiti. More information is on the Columbia Housing, Dining and Environmental Stewardship website.

Additionally, the Work/Life bulletin board, similar to an internal Craigslist, allows Columbia staff, faculty, and students to post personal household and office items to buy, sell, swap or reuse.
The undergraduate EcoReps program partners with Facilities and Housing for Give and Go Green and Facilities hosts Clean and Go Green.


A brief description of the institution's efforts to make materials available online by default rather than printing them:

Course catalogs, schedules, and directories are available only online with only some hard copy catalogs may be available by request. The URL below has links to the academic calendars, course management system, and Directory of Classes/course catalog.


A brief description of any limits on paper and ink consumption employed by the institution:

Students, faculty, instructors, and others have a weekly print quota which varies by affiliation. (See the website for details). In addition, all printing is duplex/double-sided by default to reduce paper waste. A locally-developed print queue management system called NINJA that has a queue management workstation at each public printer is used to reduce overprinting. Print jobs are not released for printing until the user logs in at the workstation with their University network ID and password. Thus, unclaimed print jobs are never printed. Also, a quota system is implemented to limit usage. Users needing additional printing have the option of paying online to add pages to their quota.

All NINJA printers and their queue management workstations are configured for maximum standby energy savings and to print duplex by default.


A brief description of any programs employed by the institution to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:

Give and Go Green EcoReps, in conjunction with Columbia Housing, have organized a campaign during spring move-out to help make donating stuff to local charities easy during Move-Out. Unwanted items are brought to a drop-off location instead of throwing them in the trash.
Items to Donate:
Non-perishable food, clothing in good condition, kitchenware, appliances, linens, accessories, books, small furniture, computers, toiletries
Supporting Local Charities: Salvation Army, City Harvest, Per Scholas, Goodwill, St. John the Divine and the Broadway Community, Inc. and more!
Students are also directed to a link on Green Check-Out tips that cover tips for move out to help reduce their environmental impact and reduce move out stress in the process. Storage, Packing Materials, Craigslist, Packing, and Item recycling and donation.
Hosted by Facilities, Clean and Go Green is offered during winter move-out and over the summer for all faculty, staff and students. Similar to Give and GO Green drop-off locations are designated for the recycling and donating of the items listed above but is expanded to include:

Reuse/Donation:
• Clothing
• Textiles & Linens
• Non-perishable Food
• Coats
• Shoes
• Books
• Small Household Items
• Newer, working Electronic Equipment

Recycling:
• Furniture
• Non-working Computer Monitors, Keyboards and CPUs
• Paper/Cardboard
• Batteries
• Non-working Electronic Equipment
• Non-working Desk Lamps
• Toner Cartridges
• Paint Cans

Refashion NYC textile recycling bins are provided in several University apartment buildings for faculty, staff and graduate students with signs on bins, buildings, and notes to all tenants to use the bins especially during move-out.

Additional information:
http://housing.columbia.edu/sustainability
http://housing.columbia.edu/check-out/give-go-green


A brief description of any other (non-food) waste minimization strategies employed by the institution:

“Recycling Makeover” is a recycling education /recycling consolidation initiative focusing on administration work space and recycling behavior. By removing desk side waste receptacles creating central waste and recycling stations the university hopes to increase recycling numbers.


A brief description of any food waste audits employed by the institution:

The Ecoreps perform plate scraping waste audits in the central dining room 3 times a semester and post data.


A brief description of any programs and/or practices to track and reduce pre-consumer food waste in the form of kitchen food waste, prep waste and spoilage:

Columbia University is the first urban university to pilot with the NY Department of Sanitation Organics Collection Program to collect prep waste and front of the house closing leftovers.


A brief description of programs and/or practices to track and reduce post-consumer food waste:

Columbia Dining adopted a 100% trayless policy in all dining halls in the Fall of 2009. Dining has determined an average saving of 3,000 gallons of water daily as well as approximately 50 pounds of wasted food per meal by removing 1,400 trays. The food removed from the waste stream not only has environmental benefits but it reduces the amount of food used and increases the amount of unserved food from Columbia donates each week to City Harvest, a non-profit agency whose mission is to end hunger in New York City and the surrounding boroughs. Columbia's donations have actually decreased to City Harvest, as the University is producing a significantly less amount of food waste than ever before.

Additional URL about Columbia's trayless dining program: http://www.environment.columbia.edu/newsandprofiles/traylessdiningatjohnjayyieldsimpressivegreenbenefits


A brief description of the institution's provision of reusable and/or third party certified compostable to-go containers for to-go food and beverage items (in conjunction with a composting program):

Columbia Dining provides reusable eco-containers for to-go food. In all dining halls, students who wish to carry out food are able to do so with reusable plastic containers. Each student who buys a meal plan receives a free token that he or she can exchange for an eco-container. When the student returns to the dining hall, he/she can receive a new eco-container or exchange it for a token. The containers, made of polypropylene, are made in the USA. They are microwave and dishwasher safe, with microbial protection that controls stains and odor-causing bacteria. At the end of their useful life, the containers are recyclable. Additionally, Columbia hands out BPA free, made in NYC, recyclable at end of life reusable water bottles to all first year undergraduate residential students to reduce the purchase of disposable cups and bottles. Students can fill these with the beverage of their choice at the dining halls when they are taking meals to go.


A brief description of the institution's provision of reusable service ware for “dine in” meals and reusable and/or third party certified compostable service ware for to-go meals (in conjunction with a composting program):

Columbia Dining provides reusable eco-containers for to-go food.  In all dining halls, students who wish to carry out food are able to do so with reusable plastic containers.  Each student who buys a meal plan receives a free token that he or she can exchange for an eco-container.  When the student returns to the dining hall, he/she can receive a new eco-container or exchange it for a token.  The containers, made of polypropylene, are made in the USA. They are microwave and dishwasher safe, with microbial protection that controls stains and odor-causing bacteria. At the end of their useful life, the containers are recyclable.  Additionally, Columbia hands out BPA free, made in NYC, recyclable at end of life reusable water bottles to all first year undergraduate residential students to reduce the purchase of disposable cups and bottles.  Students can fill these with the beverage of their choice at the dining halls when they are taking meals to go. All other take away containers are BPI Certified and compostable.


A brief description of any discounts offered to customers who use reusable containers (e.g. mugs) instead of disposable or compostable containers in to-go food service operations:

At all Blue Java Coffee Bar locations, customers who purchase a Blue Java mug receive a discount for all coffee or tea beverages purchased when they bring their mug. In addition, students and staff receive coffee refills for $0.99 with their Blue Java mugs or any outside reusable mug. In John Jay Dining Hall only reusable beverage containers are available when dining in house.

Additionally, Columbia hands out BPA free, made in NYC, recyclable at end of life reusable water bottles to all first year undergraduate residential students at no cost to reduce the purchase of disposable cups and bottles. Students can fill these with the beverage of their choice at the dining halls when they are taking meals to go.


A brief description of other dining services waste minimization programs and initiatives:

Dining recycles all of its cooking oil, glass metal plastic and containers, mixed paper and cardboard, all delivery pallets are returned to the vendor, and a composting pilot with the City of New York Department of Sanitation as well as the in-house Rocket composting.


The website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization initiatives is available:

Tonnage numbers are estimates based on the best available information provided by the city of NY for average waste and recycling
Collection Methods
The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) picks up the majority of Columbia’s waste and recycling through a collection system on the Morningside Campus and for all residential buildings at CUMC. All buildings within the Morningside Campus enclosure bring waste, plastic, glass, metal, paper, and some cardboard to a centralized location where the DSNY picks it up. LDEO hauls their recycling to the Rockland County Solid Waste recycling center.

*Columbia University Medical Center values are included below, to supplement the main submission for Morningside campus. CUMC's parameters are not included in the main area tally because the GHG emissions baseline years are different, therefore we formally report everything quantitative for the Morningside main campus, with the CUMC numbers explained in the public notes section, in order to include this campus in our submission.

CUMC statistics:
2011:
Trash 1,116.79 tons
Recycling: 29.47 tons

2013:
Trash 702.02 tons
Recycling: 300.85 tons

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.