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We're on our way to Zero Waste

American University is committed to strive for zero waste sent to landfill and incineration by 2020.

Throw away doesn't mean go away, so we're on our way to Zero Waste.

Campus Wide Organic Waste Collection

Zero waste containers

New zero waste containers at SIS

American University is proud to announce the launching of organic waste collection for composting campus wide! Organic waste is anything that was once living (and not currently recycled), e.g. leftover food, paper sandwich wrappers, greasy pizza boxes, and anything made from "compostable" material, such as bio-plastic cups and containers. This organic waste is currently mixed with trash and sent to landfill, but through separation we can further reduce our waste footprint. The separated organic waste will be sent to a composting facility off-campus to become compost, a nutrient rich soil amendment. This sorting of organic waste will require a small change in behavior, but will help us get much closer to our overall goal of zero waste to landfill and incineration. 

Organics and Container Replacement Status:

All Residence Halls are currently equipped with organic bins. This fall, we will be replacing the rest of the containers with the newly designed 40 gallon bins.

SIS installed - June 2013
Hurst installed - August 29, 2013
Cassell Hall installed - September 5, 2013
Nebraska Hall installed - September 10, 2013
Ward building installed - September 12, 2013
Child Development Center installed - September 19, 2013
Bender Library installed - September 27, 2013
East Quad Building installed - October 4, 2013
Mary Graydon Center installed - October 25, 2013
Clark Hall & Roper Hall installed - November 19, 2013
Centennial Hall & Letts Hall installed - December 18, 2013
Anderson Hall installed - December 19, 2013
Katzen Arts Center installed - December 20, 2013
Hughes Hall & McDowell Hall installed - January 7, 2014
Leonard Hall installed - January 8, 2014
McKinley installed - January 29, 2014
Bender Arena installed - February 7, 2014
Battelle-Tompkins installed - April 3, 2014
Kay installed -April 17, 2014
Kogod installed - April 30, 2014
Beeghly installed - May 28, 2014
Media Production Center installed - June 3, 2014
Asbury installed - June 4, 2014
Sports Center Annex installed - June 5, 2014
Watkins installed - July 1, 2014
Kreeger installed - July 1, 2014
Anderson Lower Level installed - July 1, 2014
Centennial Lower Level installed - July 1, 2014
Jack Child Hall installed- July 1, 2014

Public Safety
President's Office Building

Questions? Please contact helenlee@american.edu

To learn more about organic waste and composting, please click the related link on the side. For regular updates of our zero waste program, please like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ZeroWasteAU!

What AU is doing to eliminate waste

  • Campus-wide organic waste collection will be implemented in 2013. A pilot project with the Green Office (GO!) program will run from October through December 2012.
  • In 2010, AU adopted a Zero Waste Policy mandating the creation of a team to develop a plan for reducing and diverting 100% of the university's waste stream.
  • In spring 2012, AU placed 1st in the Grand Champion division of the national recycling competition, RecycleMania. Click the link on the side to see our results.
  • AU composts paper towel waste from all restrooms around campus. Green Eagles (student sustainability educators) audited the campus waste stream and discovered that by composting paper towels, we are diverting about 13 percent of AU's waste from landfill.
  • AU also composts all of the kitchen waste from the Terrace Dining Room, Tenley Cafe, and coffee grounds from the Davenport Lounge.
  • The university is reducing solid waste by replacing bottled water with inline water filters.
  • In fall 2009, AU eliminated trays in the Terrace Dining Hall, reducing food waste by an estimated 32 percent.
  • The university reuses and recycles surplus furniture by partnering with several area surplus and reuse centers.
  • In 2009, the university recycled 43 percent of the solid waste generated on campus by presorting cans, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic bags, batteries, cell phone batteries, cell phones, and fluorescent lights.
  • We collect and recycle vehicle waste including lubricants, antifreeze, oil filters, tires, and batteries.
  • University-owned electronics equipment can be recycled bysimply e-mailing AUSurplus@american.edu.
  • Personal electronics waste can be recycled at our quarterly e-waste recycling drives.
  • We collect kitchen grease and convert it to electricity and hot water using a Vegawatt generator system.

Student Move-Out

Move out

Every year, students leave behind tons of usable materials from working refrigerators, unopened food & toiletries, to bags of clothes during move-out. To reduce AU’s waste sent to landfills and save the university money, Facilities partnered up with ARAMARK Housekeeping, Housing & Dining Programs, RHA, and the Office of Sustainability to put together Project Move-Out. During the move-out period, containers were set out to collect left-behind items for donation. Toters were set up on each floor of the residence halls by the elevators to collect clothes, shoes, and other textiles including bedding, towels, linen, and tapestries. Almost 10,000 lbs of these materials were sent to Community Recycling, a company that donates, sells, reuses, or recycles these materials. Books were collected on the first floor lobbies of the residence halls which benefited the AU Study Abroad Program. The team also sent out tips to residents in the halls to pack up stuff in advance, store on campus if they are returning, or sell/exchange items using online resources such as AU Free & For Sale Facebook Group, CraigsList, Ebay, Amazon, and etc. We’d like to give a big hand to AU’s Recycling Crew and ARAMARK Housekeeping for doing such a wonderful job during move-out and helping the university get closer to zero waste.

Student Move-In 2014

Students, you guys are doing a great job breaking down the cardboard boxes to help us recycle them on campus. Keep it up! Also please try to separate out the styrofoam from the cardboard. Students who are still in the process of moving, please try to pack your materials in reusable storage containers if you can!