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.
- 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.
- Yale’s purchasing professionals play an important role in advancing responsible materials management. Learn about Procurement’s sustainability goals and initiatives.
- Managing the disposal of items leaving campus is a complex process. We strive for transparency, and look to the Yale community help us reach our goals.
- We are currently exploring the feasibility of a Pay As You Throw program at Yale to help with our waste reduction efforts.
What You Can Do
- Buy or sell, donate and find! Turn to the Eli Surplus Exchange to keep resources on campus.
Our Objectives and Goals
Advance purchasing standards that promote sustainability and resilience
As part of the Library Sustainability Advisory Group’s materials management efforts, thermal paper containing phenol chemicals is being phased out. Thermal paper—found in receipts, hold slips, and routing slips—can lead to chemical absorption into the body when touched. These chemicals are harmful to human and animal reproductive systems. Thermal paper is also not recyclable.
The Library system has switched to an alternative, phenol-free product that uses Vitamin C to achieve the same function. It is completely nontoxic and recyclable.
By 2019, define, refine, and systematize progressive language for requests for proposals and vendor contracts.
Procurement officers now use a questionnaire of sustainability criteria when ordering new products, taking health and well-being, toxicity, emissions, and packaging into account. Efforts to expand usage of the questionnaire more broadly are underway.
By 2020, establish and promote sustainable packaging standards.
Using the outcomes from the sustainable packaging analysis conducted in 2017 that looked at carbon emissions, recyclability and reuse, the Procurement department has begun to explore commodity-specific packaging, and will communicate sustainable packaging preferences to vendors.
Material Flow Systems
Promote material flow systems that employ use and disposal patterns to inform purchasing decisions
Pay As You Throw
By January 2022, create, pilot, and assess a “pay as you throw” system.
The Pay As You Throw Task Force has identified infrastructural challenges, research opportunities, and initial recommendations for a PAYT pilot at Yale. Two research projects were completed in Spring 2018, and the Task Force is continuing to meet to refine its recommendations. A PAYT communications plan was also developed and stakeholder engagement is underway.
Targeted Waste Reduction
By 2020, identify the most impactful commodity groups that contribute to Yale’s waste stream through material flow analyses.
The second in a series of material flow analyses has been completed, on paper usage, complementing the first analysis on animal bedding. We have identified opportunities for increased efficiencies and are exploring how to implement them.
Purchasing and Disposal Decision-Making
Cultivate sustainable purchasing and disposal decisions
Materials Outreach and Engagement
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.
A comprehensive guide to materials management at Yale was created and incorporated into the Yale Sustainability website. We have also set new targets using 2017 as a baseline and made progress in key areas:
- Waste diversion in 2018 was 43%. Going forward our goal is to achieve a diversion rate of 60% by 2024 to align with the State of Connecticut, and maintain or reduce overall amount of waste produced annually since 2017.
- Construction and demolition diversion rate was 91% in 2018. Going forward, all new Yale buildings must abide by the LEED credit that specifies no more than 2.5 pounds of construction waste per square foot of the building’s floor area.
- Paper purchases have increased by 17% since 2017. Going forward our goal is to return to 2017 levels, which were markedly low, by 2020
- 32% of cleaning chemicals used at Yale, by volume, were green preferred or green certified in 2018. Going forward our goal is by 2022, 40% of cleaning chemicals used at Yale will be green preferred or green certified.
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.
An analysis of challenges, needs, and opportunities for reuse across the arts campus was conducted. This led to the creation of a matrix cataloguing sources of commonly desired materials and commonly available materials to streamline possible material flows.
At the conclusion of the semester, the School of Architecture diverted two large SUV’s full of art materials from the waste stream and donated them to a local architecture and design magnet school.