March: Disposal

Yale follows a “waste hierarchy” that outlines waste management priorities in order of environmental impact.

  1. The first priority is waste prevention – consuming less to eliminate waste before it is created.
  2. The next priority is reusing products and materials. It takes energy and resources to process recyclable and compostable products into new materials, so please re-use whenever possible.
  3. The third priority is recycling and composting where applicable.
  4. Disposal of municipal solid waste is a last resort. When making your purchasing and disposal choices, please follow this hierarchy to help us maximize use of products and minimize waste.

Yale has made considerable progress in the last few years in increasing diversion of materials from municipal solid waste through recycling, composting, and reuse. In the last four years, Yale has nearly doubled its diversion!

  • 2009: 7,765 tons of waste; 21% diverted
  • 2013: 7,639 tons of waste; 40% diverted

As part of the Yale Sustainability Strategic Plan 2013-2016, Yale has committed to further reducing municipal solid waste and achieving a 50% waste diversion rate by June 2016 via reuse, recycling, and/or composting strategies. We need your help to achieve this goal!

Sustainable choices you can make…

Reduce packaging waste. A product isn’t just about what’s inside the box. According to the EPA, about 30% of our trash is packaging. When you buy a heavily packaged item, a portion of your money is going straight into the trash.

Reduce unnecessary waste by bringing your own cup, container, or bag to the store. Avoid individually wrapped products and buy in bulk. When shopping online, aggregate your purchases into larger, less frequent orders to reduce shipping and packaging materials. See how to do this for orders through SciQuest / OfficeMax and Amazon.

What do I do with…?

Plastic, glass, metal, paper, and cardboard:
With Yale’s Single Stream Recycling system, all recyclables can go into the same bin for collection. You don’t need to separate glass, metal, plastic, and paper - just make sure they are free of liquid and food residue. Empty out and flatten cardboard boxes next to recycling bins. To learn more about what can and can’t be recycled, consult the Yale Recycling website.

Remember, plastic bags cannot be recycled in single stream recycling. They tangle up the machinery that separates the recyclables. Watch this video to learn more about what happens to recycling after it leaves Yale.

Plastic shopping bags:
Plastic shopping bags are recyclable, but can’t be processed with the single-stream materials. Collect plastic bags and take them to a local drop-off location. The Office of Sustainability has a “bag monster” costume that is available for loan upon request for events.

Unneeded office supplies, unopened chemicals, furniture, or lab equipment:
Yale’s Eli Surplus Exchange Program helps you cut procurement costs and minimize waste. Any Yale employee can list or purchase surplus supplies on the exchange. Items can be listed for free or for a reduced price.

Yale Environmental Health and Safety recycles all used electronics (classified as “Universal Waste”). This includes computers and their accessories, fax and copy machines, phones, cell phones, and certain types of batteries. Request support from Yale ITS for data removal and then request a Universal Waste pick up from EHS.

Printer cartridges:

Yale Procurement, Yale Sustainability, and Office Max have partnered to create a new printer cartridge recycling program on campus. Request a collection box for your office.

Regulated waste:
Visit the Yale EHS’s waste page to learn how to collect, handle, label and store  regulated waste, which includes biomedical waste, chemical waste, radioactive waste, universal (electronic) waste, and building / construction / renovation waste.

Packing Materials:
Bring your extra packing peanuts to the UPS Store to ensure that they are reused instead of being thrown out. You can also sell packing materials on eBay, give them away on Freecycle, or use The Peanut Hotline to find other drop-off sites for spare packaging fill.

Pens, mechanical pencils, markers, and caps:
The Office of Sustainability can assist your office in setting up a Pen Pail—a collection bin where you can drop off defunct writing implements for recycling by TerraCycle. For each pen, mechanical pencil, or marker that Yale collects, TerraCycle donates two cents to The United Way of Greater New Haven. To get started, check out the Pen Pail page.

Anything else:
Consult or the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Management Guide for Those Not-So-Common Household Items to learn about the proper disposal of over eighty different products including art supplies, clean bricks, corks, holiday lighting, satellite dishes, tires, wrappers, and yoga mats.

Additional Resources

Have you reviewed the Yale Building Occupancy Training program yet?
Learn more about the sustainable aspects of your building, including waste management, and how you can help maximize the performance of your building by reviewing the following PowerPoint presentations:

(These PowerPoint presentations work best when viewed in “presentation” mode and navigated using the “Next Slide,” “Back,” and “Bulldog” buttons.)

Have you seen the Story of Stuff?  Visit the Story of Stuff website to watch movies on the lifecycle of products and to see factsheets about bottled water and other products.