Blog Post

Clark University is a private institution in Worcester with over 3,000 students, faculty, and staff. Through dedicated leadership and Sustainable Clark, the university has engaged the campus community in a variety of waste diversion programs. In addition to running a comprehensive recycling and composting program, Clark continually re-evaluates their waste programs by identifying opportunities to decrease contamination through student involvement and updated signage.

The university collects paper, cardboard, and mixed containers for recycling in the residence halls, academic buildings, administrative offices, and common areas. All faculty offices have paper collection bins and many also designate a bin for mixed containers such as cans and bottles. These materials are consolidated into each building’s central recycling area by custodial staff. Partnering with custodial staff, the Student Recycling Crew is responsible for transporting recyclables from campus buildings to the Recycling Center throughout the academic year. In 2007, Clark implemented a food scraps and paper goods composting program in the cafeteria which, by 2015, had expanded to all residential halls, the academic commons, and the fitness center.

Clark’s Director of Sustainability reached out to RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) in the summer of 2019 for assistance in updating waste bin signage across campus as part of an effort to reduce contamination in recycling and organics waste streams. Staff and students from the sustainability office conducted a waste audit of residence hall floor bins at the beginning of the semester in early September 2019, and found that the level of contamination in the mixed container and mixed paper bins were 50% and 25%, respectively. After the baseline audit, Clark implemented updated RecyclingWorks signage and re-trained residential staff and custodians. In December 2019, students and staff conducted another waste audit. The results showed a 42% overall reduction in contamination, along with an increased quantity of the proper materials in the mixed paper and mixed recycling bins.


RecyclingWorks is a recycling assistance program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection that helps businesses and institutions reduce waste and maximize recycling, reuse, and food recovery opportunities. RecyclingWorks offers many online resources for colleges and universities in Massachusetts, including case studies and tips for waste ban compliance, and also hosts an annual College & University Forum. To learn more about our no-cost assistance, call the RecyclingWorks hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at