Waste Generation & Recovery (3.0)

Credit Language

OP 12: Waste Generation & Recovery – version 3.0


  • 12.1 Non-hazardous waste generated per person
  • 12.2 Non-hazardous waste generated per square meter
  • 12.3 Percentage of non-hazardous waste diverted from disposal
  • 12.4 Percentage of construction and demolition waste diverted from disposal

Questions & Answers

How has this credit changed between STARS Version 2 and Version 3?

  • Waste generation is now normalized by floor area and FTE of students and employees.
  • Waste figures must be provided in metric tons (tonnes) and gross floor area must be provided in square meters.
  • Waste generation performance is now assessed against a benchmark for an institution’s peer group (basic institution type). Baseline data is no longer required. 
  • A comprehensive list of differences can be found in the STARS 3.0 Summary of changes.

How do we determine which peer group our institution falls under (Indicators 12.1 and 12.2)? 

Institutions must select from among the following peer groups, which typically aligns with Institution Type categories reported under PRE 3: Institutional Characteristics. Peer group selections should be consistent with PRE 3 and across all applicable credits. 

  • Associate’s colleges, short-cycle institutions and pre-tertiary schools – This category includes higher education institutions where all degrees are at the associate’s level, or where baccalaureate degrees account for less than 10% of all degrees.
  • Baccalaureate colleges and boarding schools – This category includes Colleges and universities where baccalaureate degrees represent at least 10% of all undergraduate degrees and where fewer than 50 master’s degrees or 20 doctoral degrees are awarded annually. 
  • Master’s colleges and universities – This category includes colleges and universities that award at least 50 master’s degrees and fewer than 20 doctoral degrees annually.

Doctoral universities and research institutions –  This category includes institutions that award at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees annually, including doctoral degrees that qualify recipients for entry into professional practice. 

What types of waste should be quantified under this credit? 

Institutions should report the most recent annual data available from within the previous three years. Comprehensive amounts should be reported in all categories. An institution may track waste over a full one-year time period (calendar or fiscal year), report average annual waste over a two or three year period, or estimate annual waste based on a representative sample.

Include all municipal solid waste (i.e., trash or rubbish) and non-hazardous recyclable and compostable materials generated by the institution. 

How is hazardous waste and construction and demolition waste reported under this credit? 

Construction, demolition, hazardous, universal, special (e.g., coal ash), medical, and non-regulated chemical waste should be excluded from to the extent feasible under Indicators 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Construction and demolition waste should be reported under Indicator 12.4. Hazardous waste should be reported under OP 11: Materials Management, Indicator 11.4.

Are there other credits that ask for the same information?

Gross floor area of building space is required under the following credits:

  • PRE 3: Institutional Characteristics
  • OP 3: Water Use
  • OP 5: Energy Use
  • OP 6: Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • OP 12: Waste Generation & Recovery

Full-time equivalent student enrollment and Full-time equivalent of employees are reported under the following credits: 

  • PRE 3: Institutional Characteristics
  • OP 3: Water Use
  • OP 5: Energy Use 
  • OP 6: Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • OP 12: Waste Generation & Recovery
  • OP 14: Commute Modal Split

Generally speaking, these figures should be consistent across credits if the same performance year is being used. To simplify reporting, the Reporting Tool will allow you to copy the figures reported under the Institutional Characteristics into other credits. If it is necessary to deviate from one or more PRE figures when completing a credit, the rationale for doing so should be recorded in the Notes field for the affected credits (e.g., difference in reporting timeframe).  

See related article on Can information be shared between credits?.

Resources, Templates & Tools

Suggestions for Institutions

  • Review the Institution Type classification reported under PRE 3 and ensure that the selection under this credit aligns with what is reported in PRE. 
  • Floor area figures must be reported in square meters. Institutions that typically report in imperial units should convert to square meters before reporting. To convert square feet, multiply by 0.09290304.

Potential Data Quality Issues

  • Indicators 12.1 and 12.2 – Peer Group – The selection made for peer group must be consistent to what is reported under PRE 3 for Institution Type.
    • US institutions: Refer to the latest Carnegie Basic Type Classification for your institution to ensure that the most accurate selection is made.  
  • Score outlier: Earning full points for Indicators 12.1, 12.2, and/or 12.3 (or close to it) indicates very low rates of waste generated and/or very high waste diversion rates. If high scores are reported, check to ensure that reported weights are comprehensive. High scores and exemplary performance should be affirmed in descriptive text and documentation.
  • Indicator 12.1. Numeric outlier: Zero (or very low amounts) reported for waste recycled, composted, prepared for reuse, and/or disposed may indicate that the inventory is not sufficiently comprehensive. Low amounts in these fields should be confirmed.
  • Indicator 12.3. A high amount (e.g., 90% or above) for “Percentage of non-hazardous waste diverted from disposal” may indicate data entry error. Check closely for data entry, unit conversion, and/or other misinterpretations. Exemplary performance should be clarified in the descriptive field. 
    • 90% or above diversion under Indicator 12.4 is not atypical.

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