Materials

Using and Reusing Materials to Inspire

University operations and academics require a vast array of materials - from art supplies to furniture, from medical equipment to sports uniforms, from construction materials to food. Yale helps drive sustainability within this complex materials system by leveraging relationships with suppliers and using data to inspire, incentivize, and empower our community members.


Yale’s Efforts

  • We continually look for opportunities to encourage reuse of products within the Yale community and beyond. Spring Salvage donates items from students leaving the University.

What You Can Do

Our Objectives and Goals

Purchasing Standards

Advance purchasing standards that promote sustainability and resilience

In support of the Sustainable Packaging goal and in partnership with Procurement, a School of Forestry & Environmental Studies student applied skills from the “Life Cycle Analysis” course to assess and prioritize over 30 kinds of packaging materials across seven categories. This rigorous analysis represents an example of integrating academics and operations at the University.

This Objective is supported by the following goal(s): 
Goal: 

Vendor Management

ON TRACK

By 2019, define, refine, and systematize progressive language for requests for proposals and vendor contracts.

Progress: 

The University drafted a comprehensive sustainability questionnaire to guide conversations between Procurement officers and vendors. The questionnaire can be tailored according to the product, so that all relevant criteria are considered. Examples of sustainability criteria include reuse options, recycled content, health and well-being, toxicity, emissions, and packaging types. 

Goal: 

Sustainable Packaging

ON TRACK

By 2020, establish and promote sustainable packaging standards.

Progress: 

Sustainable packaging types have been identified based on life cycle analyses of common packaging types and potential alternatives. Carbon emissions, recyclability, and reuse were all taken into consideration, and packaging types were ranked accordingly. Procurement will work to communicate packaging preferences to vendors based on the outcomes of these analyses. 

Material Flow Systems

Promote material flow systems that employ use and disposal patterns to inform purchasing decisions

This Objective is supported by the following goal(s): 
Goal: 

Pay As You Throw

ON TRACK

By January 2022, create, pilot, and assess a “pay as you throw” system.

Progress: 

A “Pay As You Throw” Task Force was launched in Fall 2017.

Goal: 

Targeted Waste Reduction

ON TRACK

By 2020, identify the most impactful commodity groups that contribute to Yale’s waste stream through material flow analyses.

Progress: 

The first in a series of material flow analyses has been completed on animal bedding. Opportunities for increased efficiencies have been identified, and implementation of these efficiencies is now being explored. 

Purchasing and Disposal Decision-Making

Cultivate sustainable purchasing and disposal decisions

Yale partners with Easter Seals Goodwill on multiple waste diversion programs throughout the academic year including Declutter, Destress, Donate and Spring Salvage. The first encourages decluttering and donating before spring break to reduce stress. The second provides an opportunity for the collection and donation of items that are unwanted during undergraduate moveout. Through these programs, Yale diverted and donated over 50,000 pounds of items this year.

This Objective is supported by the following goal(s): 
Goal: 

Materials Outreach and Engagement

ON TRACK

By 2020, create and launch an engagement strategy to empower Yale students, staff, and faculty to make responsible materials management choices, including communications about purchasing volume for key commodities; reuse; and diversion of materials from the waste stream.

Progress: 
  • The construction and demolition diversion rate was 88% for 2017.
  • Paper purchases have decreased by 45.3% since 2013.
  • 34.2% of green cleaning chemicals used at Yale, by volume, were green preferred or green certified in 2017. 

The 2017 data for each of these categories will act as baseline figures for setting future reduction targets. Accompanying strategies for outreach and engagement will then be developed.

Goal: 

Reuse

ON TRACK

By 2021, create a suite of coordinated solutions for exploring inflow and outflow of high-volume materials, by identifying opportunities for reuse within Yale, the New Haven community, and the region.

Progress: 

In Spring 2017, in partnership with the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale, a stakeholder engagement session called Project GreenLight was held on the topic of reuse. The workshop highlighted the need for increased communications around existing reuse programs at Yale. Subsequently, a pilot program for reuse of arts-related materials was started by the Schools of Architecture, Art, and Drama, the Art Gallery, and the Peabody Museum of Natural History.