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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 55.50
Liaison Alistair Hall
Submission Date July 22, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Vassar College
OP-22: Waste Minimization

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.45 / 5.00 Cynthia Van Tassell
Manager for Custodial Services
Buidings and Grounds Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Waste generated::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 349 Tons 337 Tons
Materials composted 95 Tons 14 Tons
Materials reused, donated or re-sold 5 Tons 5 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 1,150 Tons 1,438 Tons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 2,354 2,411
Number of residential employees 200 200
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 2,385 2,434
Full-time equivalent of employees 1,021 1,047
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 0 0

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2012 June 30, 2013
Baseline Year July 1, 2004 June 30, 2005

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

The waste generation baseline incorporates data from July 1, 2004 to July 30, 2005 and was adopted to a baseline for all data reporting.


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

The College Committee on Sustainability held two food waste audits throughout the 2013-2014 year; one held in a central eating location, The Retreat, and another in Cushing dorm. Multiple bags from multiple of Recycling, Composting, and Trash bins were collected in The Retreat and indoor trash, paper recycling, and bottle recycling bags were collected in Cushing dorm. Mixing was present in both audits but strategies were developed on how contamination could be reduced.


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

Vassar Sustainability publicly advocates and helps organizations hosting events to run them as zero-waste. Recent zero-waste events have included campus dinners and all-campus concerts and celebrations.

The Retreat, purchases compostable plates and utensils so that a customer's entire meal can be composted.


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

The Vassar Greens opened the Free Store in March 2011. The Free Store is located in the Student Center and serves as a materials exchange location for students, faculty, and staff throughout the year. It accepts donations of clothing, books, office supplies and smaller furniture.

We also offer various recycling drop boxes around campus for recycling rechargeable batteries found in various electronic devices. We recycle 100-200 pounds a year through a local company out of Pennsylvania called Call2Recycle that recycles the batteries through RBRC (Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation).

The Purchasing and Computing department hosts a surplus sale each October that sells surplus office furniture, supplies, and retired computers back to the campus community. The proceeds of the sale cover storage of the surplus items and provide funding for the Sustainability Committee's programming.


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

It is the policy of the Office of Admissions to not send out paper material (catalogs, directories etc.) for incoming and current students. Online versions of most college documents, including all student life documents, are available online. The college catalog is only available on-line. Many classroom required readings are also offered online on the Moodle site that is easily accessible to students and professors.


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

Vassar College supplies students with a limited allowance ($20) for printing (V-print points). It also lowers the cost of printing double-sided in comparison to single-sided printing and makes double-sided printing the default setting for campus printers. Many classes post assigned readings and materials to a Moodle page which has built in accessibility settings and allows for easy online reading.


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

SWAPR (Stopping Waste and Promoting Reuse) manages the reuse of discarded materials left by students during move-out. The program has been around since 2002 and routinely fills 3-4 semi-trailers with materials, and donates the rest to 16+ local charities. Student volunteers collect bedding, clothing, furniture, textbooks, and household items. The proceeds from the sellback event in the fall covers the cost of collection and storage.


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

Cigarette bins are located outside all dorms and most buildings to promote proper disposal of butts. Zero-waste events are promoted and clubs and organizations are supported in running sustainable events by providing access to compostable and recyclable products and proper disposal locations.


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

Please see the above section on Non-food waste audits.

Both audits examined food and non-food waste, with a focus on contamination rates between waste, recycling, and compost. In the audit in the Retreat, the audit of compost bins showed which items are the common source of contamination and allowed the Committee to develop new signage for the dining area. In the audit in Cushing dorm, special attention was given to food waste so as to consider whether starting a dorm composting program would be effective.


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:

Food prep in the two central eating areas is all composted, recorded and tracked monthly.


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

Trayless dining has been in practice in the All Campus Dining Center for three years. Reusable baskets and compostable dishware are also used at The Retreat.


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):

Vassar College has a reusable to-go container program at all of its dining facilities. Vassar Athletics uses reusable water bottles for athletes during games and practices. We have also worked with local vendors selling goods on campus to use compostable dishware and utensils.


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):

We source our compostable service ware from a company called EcoWare - a local company located in the New York region that provides our compostable dishware. The All Campus Dining Center also offers free to-go dishware and mugs.


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:

Vassar College offers a 10% discount for the use of re-useable mugs at the Retreat and Kiosk.


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:
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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.