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

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.39
Liaison Tina Woolston
Submission Date Nov. 12, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Tufts University
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.97 / 5.00 Betsy Isenstein
Director of Facilities Technical Services
Facilities Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 762.24 Tons 888.43 Tons
Materials composted 844.61 Tons 593 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 20.47 Tons 2.53 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 1,962.50 Tons 2,374.60 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 3,519 3,491
Number of residential employees 11 9
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 10,461.50 9,113
Full-time equivalent of employees 4,513.24 3,481
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 31 0

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, 2004 June 30, 2005

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted:
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A brief description of any (non-food) waste audits employed by the institution:

We entered into a new holistic waste hauling relationship in 2013, similar to a performance-based contract, where we are having a recycling vendor collect our trash. The same hauler is collecting from all of our campuses. We went from having four haulers to one.

The contract includes management hours for the recycling hauler to audit our trash and make waste profiles of each school via waste audits. Several audits have been completed since the start of the contract including: Tufts Administration Building and the Facilities Building in Medford; the 14-story Human Nutrition Research Center, the Sackler Center, and Posner Hall in Boston; and the small and large animal hospitals and the Grafton Administration Building in Grafton.

In the past we completed comprehensive audits of:
Our main dining hall and central kitchen
Metcalf Dormitory
The Fletcher and Dental Schools on two separate occasions
The staff suite in Tisch Library
The Campus Center Commons Dining Kitchen


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

Tufts University gives preference to environmentally friendly products whose quality, function, and cost are equal or superior to more traditional products. The statement is promoted on our Purchasing Dept.’s homepage (http://finance.tufts.edu/purchasing/green-purchasing-at-tufts/).

In addition, most requests for proposals contain similar language that will become part of the contract once awarded. One recent example is:
Tufts University is committed to a healthy environment and a Green Procurement Program. Our environmental programs are designed to provide a safe workplace that adequately protects our environment.
a) Please identify and discuss any initiatives that you have undertaken to boost energy efficiency, trimming waste, and reducing or eliminating the use or the production of harmful substances.

Commitment to Sustainability:
1. Describe the initiatives your firm is undertaking to ensure environmentally responsible business practices.
2. Explain your approach to sustainable design.
3. Provide an example of a sustainably designed project


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

As of November 2014, Tufts is pilot testing a new surplus furniture program. By partnering with a local moving and storage company, Tufts departments are able to view available items online and easily arrange for delivery or pick up of surplus furniture. Items are cataloged and viewed online with a brief description. Items are stored for up to 4 months and then disposed of. Transportation costs are minimized by coordinating truck trips with other business in the area. Storage costs are minimized by carefully controlling the number of items stored and time period of storage.

http://operations.tufts.edu/facilities/surplus-furniture-wish-list/


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

Several examples of Tufts' efforts to make materials available online include:

Our 15-year-old bi-monthly staff newsletter stopped printing on March 1, 2014. This distribution of approximately 27,000 heavy paper printings annually will be moved to online only.

Tufts’ Accounts Payable department pays as many vendors as possible via EFT or credit card, thus reducing the printing of paper checks. They also receive many invoices electronically via the EDI –Electronic Data Interchange. These are on-going efforts.

The Tufts Dental school is in the process of moving all patient files over to electronic records.

Several years ago Tufts' Facilities Services department stopped accepting paper-based requests for work. They also transitioned away from a paper-based Union employee tracking system by introducing mobile technology. Work request information is also communicated to customers via the web instead of printing reports to email/mail. Over the next year the Facilities Services department will make two changes to reduce paper use. One is to implement mobile devices for the crew to prevent printing work orders. In addition, payroll, attendance, and billing will be automated to avoid paper-based report that are now run on a weekly/monthly basis.

The Public Safety department’s paper-based Key Access form has been replaced with an online system.

Admission’s applications for the undergraduate and graduate Arts and Science school are online via the system SLATE (https://technolutions.com/)

Many of Tufts’ largest suppliers only submit invoices online. Examples include FedEx, Staples, VWR, and Sigma.

Course catalogs are printed but not provided to students by default. Students must pick them up themselves if they would like a print copy. Many students just access the course catalog online.

The student directory is only available online.

Orientation materials are only available online.

The pachyderm, the student handbook, used to be printed and given out to every student, but as of fall 2009, it is only available online.


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

Black and white duplex printing costs $.15 per page printed, and one-sided printing costs $.10 per side in all computer labs and libraries. Also, as of 2010, all library printers are set for duplex printing as the default.

Our Purchasing department centralized printing by networking all users to the main copier/printer. Individual desktop printers are highly discouraged and not supported by the Purchasing office.


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

Dormitory renovations now include freecycle swap stations (http://sites.tufts.edu/tuftsrecycles/2014/02/06/the-freedom-to-freecycle/).

Since 2009, our dormitory renovations have standardized the installation of permanent tack boards on the doors. This improvement greatly reduces the disposal of once-used door-sized white boards.

During fall move-in, the Tufts Eco-Reps and Tufts Recycles! interns team up to capture cardboard and recyclables from the dormitories (http://sites.tufts.edu/tuftsrecycles/recycle/during-move-in/).

R2epack aims to increase recycling and reduce waste during spring move-out. The approach is twofold: first, we educate and promote the program to students. R2epack encourages them to "Reuse. Recycle Everything. Pack and clean... 'K?"

Special receptacles are placed in each residence to collect food, clothing, carpets, freecycle reuse items, linens, books, crutches, and electronics. Here is a breakdown:

-Food: donated to food bank
-Linens/Clothing: donated
-Carpets: recycled
-Reuse items: freecycled in the dorms at the beginning of the next school year
-Books: sold or donated
-Crutches: reused by our Athletics Department
-Electronics: recycled
-Dining Hall dishes: returned

Secondly, dorm trash and recycling are combined into one dumpster and later sorted out by a recycling company. First done in 2010, this strategy resulted in a 60% recycling rate.


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

Each year the Tufts Eco-Reps hold a clothing swap in celebration of Earth Month in April (http://sites.tufts.edu/tuftsgetsgreen/tag/clothing-swap/).

Eco-Reps often run 'use reusable' campaigns during the school year - encouraging dorm residents and other students to use reusable mugs, bags, etc. Often the Eco-Rep will provide a bag-check area where residents can borrow reusable bags.


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

Food waste in all of Tufts Dining Services' kitchens is separated and tracked.


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:

Tufts Dining has phased out use of garbage disposals and instead collects food waste for composting. They also closely monitor trimmings in the central commissary kitchen and unused portions in all of their facilities. They also currently use a waste tracking module in the food production software, Foodpro, to account for and value food waste.


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

As a result of a successful pilot program, Tufts Dining removed trays from the Carmichael and Dewick-MacPhie Dining Centers starting in the summer of 2010. The 13-day Pilot Program ran from March 28 – April 9, 2010 at Carmichael Dining Center, and, as a result, average electricity use was reduced by 17.5% and average food waste was reduced by 30%. A fall 2009 survey conducted by the TCU Senate revealed that 63.6% of students surveyed either approved of going trayless or had no opinion, while 36.4% of students surveyed either disapproved or strongly disapproved of going trayless.


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):

Tufts Catering provides compostable plates and hot cups when an event organizer arranges it. We average fifteen large zero waste events per year, in addition to the small events that compost year round at one of our 14 central drop-off sites. We do not advocate nor recommend biodegradable plastics because they do not break down in the compost system here in New England.


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):

Our only two dining halls serve reusable service-ware and have gone trayless to reduce food waste.

Two of our retail units provide durable-ware (non-disposable) for eat-in customers.


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:

Mug Discount Program:

Tufts Dining offers discounts for reusable mugs and water bottles.

Use a Tisch Library or Fletcher School mug and save 20¢ per purchase on any hot beverage in Mugar Café, Hodgdon Good-to-Go, Commons Deli & Grill, and Brown & Brew Coffeehouse.

Bring the Tufts University Choose to Reuse clear bottle and get a deep discount on any fountain beverage at Mugar Café, Hodgdon Good-To-Go, Commons Deli & Grill, Tower Café, and on water and sparkling water at Hotung Café.


A brief description of other dining services waste minimization programs and initiatives:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization initiatives is available:

Compost includes both food waste and yard waste. Because yard waste is measured in cubic yards, not tons, we used a conversion factor of 500 lbs per cubic yard.

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.