Case Study: Waste Audit Puts Major University on Path to Meet Sustainability Goals


A major university in the Northeastern United States.


A waste audit uncovered a large amount of recyclable materials in the university's trash stream, including a lot of Keurig cups. Targeted recommendations resulted in an increase in the buildings' diversion rate, from 43 percent to 76 percent.



The university wanted to understand what actions it could take to drive sustainability improvements at three of its major campus buildings.


Great Forest conducted a waste audit at the three buildings that provided valuable data. Among the findings:

    • The current waste diversion rate was just 43 percent
    • Specific issues in the current waste program included:
      • 35 percent of the trash stream consisted of potentially recyclable materials
      • 27 percent of the total waste stream consisted of mixed paper
      • Over 15 percent of the waste stream consisted of organics
      • Keurig cups were a large presence in the trash stream

Based on the data gathered, the following Great Forest recommendations were implemented:

  • Signage was improved
  • An educational campaign was conducted to improve upstream sorting of materials
  • An organics program was implemented
  • An effort was made to go paperless where possible to reduce paper use
  • The coffee-making process was re-evaluated to address the large amount of Keurig cups in the trash stream.


With the changes implemented, the buildings increased their diversion rate from 43.3 percent to 76.8 percent.


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