Blog Post

In April this year, Boston University announced its new Zero Waste Plan. Named “Reimagining Waste as a Resource,” the institution has big plans for shifting mentalities in the Boston University community around waste, and eliminating wasteful practices throughout material life cycles. The ambitious plan aims to reuse or recycle at least 90% of the institution’s nonhazardous waste by 2030. Boston University is confident it will be able to achieve this goal because of the progress it has already made over the last 15 years. In 2006, the university’s nonhazardous waste diversion rate was 3%. By 2019, this diversion rate rose to 42%.

The institution plans to reduce waste by making changes like cutting back on single-use products, decreasing the amount of printing on campus, improving food waste diversion programs, and implementing more sustainable food packaging. By addressing the use of these goods and materials, Boston University is hopeful that it can reduce waste and cost. Currently, the university spends over $1.5 million on waste disposal annually. Though many of the zero waste initiatives will come at a cost, Boston University expects to realize significant triple bottom-line benefits over time.

Boston University hopes to see the benefits of these waste reduction efforts include mitigating climate change and improving human health and equity. Associate Vice President of Sustainability, Dennis Carlberg, acknowledges how pollution and waste disproportionately affect both low-income and minority communities. The university hopes their efforts will promote a circular economy and support local environmental justice communities.

With over 35,000 students, an occupancy of over 15 million square feet, and 344 buildings throughout Boston, the institution’s scale is comparable to a small city. Boston University’s zero waste journey has the potential for significant positive environmental impacts as it makes incremental changes to reach its 2030 goal.

If your business or institution is looking for strategies to prioritize waste reduction and reuse, RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) can help. RecyclingWorks assists businesses and institutions with recycling, reuse, and food waste diversion. RecyclingWorks offers a handful of resources on our College and Universities webpage, and regularly hosts College & University Forums. Additionally, RecyclingWorks developed best management practices for office and institutional furniture and equipment reuse.

To speak to a RecyclingWorks recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at