Waste

Whether you're new to recycling, composting, and reducing waste or you are a zero waste champion, this is your one-stop-shop for waste information.  Learn more here about recycling, the Freecycle reuse program, campus composting programs, and the annual Waste Not collection and tag sale.  If you have a missing bin or issues with waste on campus, call Physical Plant Customer Service at (860) 685-3400.

What We've Done

  • Reduce and Reuse
    1. Wesleyan ended the sale/use of all bottled water in 2012 at all dining halls, vending machines, and at catered events.  (Note: Bottled water is being distributed temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
    2. Wesleyan does not distribute plastic bags in any on-campus location, and has mostly eliminated the use of all disposable bags.  Weshop sells only reusable bags; Cardinal Tech offers paper bags with a $0.10 charge in line with a City of Middletown ordinance.
    3. In Spring 2015, Eco Facilitators conducted a successful pilot project to determine the effects of paper towel removal in the Butterfields A and C dormitories.  In Fall 2015, paper towels were removed from all residential buildings, with the exception of “guest” restrooms, which will retain paper towels.  Paper towels were reinstalled in Fall 2020 to address COVID-19 health concerns.
    4. High-efficiency hand dryers are currently installed in selected restrooms in Usdan University Center, 41 Wyllys Avenue, Freeman Athletic Center, and other locations where noise is not a concern. (Note: Paper towel dispensers were installed in Fall 2020 to address COVID-19 health concerns.)
    5. In offices, trash and recycling collection has been reduced to one day a week.  Facilities is working with offices to reduce the number of individual trash containers to reduce waste, reduce the number of liners needed, and save custodians time.
    6. Many campus departments use PROSHRED to shred sensitive documents; PROSHRED recycles all waste paper. In 2019, Wesleyan recycled nearly 10 tons of paper through this program.
    7. In all student computer labs, printers print double-sided by default.  Students pay for all copies, with discounts for double-sided printing, to encourage waste reduction.  Employee printers are shifting to a print-release model to reduce excess printing.
    8. Since 2009, the student-run Waste Not program has collected unwanted reusable items during move-out.  Nearly everything, including clothing, linens, food, furniture, appliances, electronics, is donated to local organizations or sold at a fall tag sale. Each year since 2013, through a partnership with Goodwill and local organizations, Waste Not has diverted 20-40 tons of furniture, clothing, and other items from the incinerator, which amounts to 34% of total move-out waste. 
    9. Usdan Administration collects winter coats for students in need from warmer climates or who have financial need.  Contact Michelle Myers-Brown for more information.
    10. The Resource Center operates a business wear clothing drive each year for low income students in need of interview-appropriate clothing.  Contact therc@wesleyan.edu for more information.
    11. Big Brothers/Big Sisters has three bins on campus year-round for clothing and small item donation.
    12. Since 2007, an active Freecycle listserv has connected students and employees who wish to give or get items for home or campus.
    13. Wesleyan joined EPA's Food Recovery Challenge in April 2013 to evaluate and reduce its food waste in Usdan annually.
    14. Since 2014, Bon Appetit has served a buffet-style the Reunion & Commencement All-College Picnic to replace boxed lunches, which decreased waste significantly. All waste was collected at centralized stations and over 90% was composted or recycled.  R&C waste reduction efforts began in 2013.
    15. Beginning in Fall 2013, Admission converted to an all paperless admission review process. Accepted and wait-listed students receive paper decisions on their applications.  Since December 2009, the Admission Office has sent out only electronic decision notifications to students denied admission.  Admission has also created an all-online notification process for wait-listed students.
    16. The Green Office Certification program includes shared office supply locations to reduce purchase of infrequently used office supplies.
  • Recycle
    1. Wesleyan's recycling program has been single stream on campus since 2012.  One hundred fifty student houses retain curbside pickup, but replaced small recycling bins with 90 gallon recycling carts.
    2. In FY 2019, 83 percent of construction and demolition waste was reused or recycled.
    3. The Environmental Services Office recycles non-traditional recyclables, including electronics, batteries, compact fluorescent and fluorescent light bulbs, cell phones, CDs, and printer cartridges.  Electronic waste is recycled through an E-Stewards Certified vendor.
    4. Big Belly solar trash compactors and recycling bins are in multiple outdoor locations to reduce litter, improve recycling diversion, and decrease pickups.  
    5. Wesleyan began collecting plastic film recycling in 2019 via the Trex collection program.  Public collection locations are available outside Pi Cafe and by the Usdan mail window.
    6. Two cardboard balers, purchased in 2013, improve corrugated cardboard collection and increase diversion rates. Students collected and baled cardboard annually during move-in, diverting 3 tons for recycling on freshman move-in day alone.
    7. Consolidated woodframe trash, recycling, and food waste collection in the Fountain/Pine neighborhood.
    8. Since 2013, student volunteers have collected cardboard during freshman move-in, diverting about 3 tons of waste each year on this day.  This collection is now available during move-in for all students living in locations with centralized waste collection. 
  • Compost
    1. Since 2013, food waste has been collected daily from Usdan and Summerfields dining halls.  In 2019-20, nearly 90 tons of food scraps and compostable dinnerware from dining halls, residences, and public locations were composted. 
    2. Residential composting has been available since 2010 to all student woodframes, program houses, and apartments. Students who wish to compost receive a 5 gallon bucket for household collection and are responsible for emptying the bucket into the nearest black composting bin. Eco Facilitators manage composting in most dorms. Several offices also compost through a voluntary program.  
    3. Public compost collection locations are now available in high-traffic locations at Usdan, Olin, and Exley, as well as in several outdoor locations.
    4. Red & Black Cafe and WesWings began pre-consumer (kitchen) composting in Spring 2020.

Contact

Jeff Sweet, Associate Director, Facilities Management (waste management questions)
Jen Kleindienst, Sustainability Director (compost and general waste questions)