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.
  • 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

Our Objectives and Goals

Purchasing Standards

Advance purchasing standards that promote sustainability and resilience

As COVID-19 emerged, To-Go dining and single-use containers became a necessary public health precaution on campus. In the face of this challenge, Yale Sustainability convened operational partners across campus to design and implement a four-stream materials management system in outdoor spaces to guide students in properly sorting their single-use waste. Further, Yale Sustainability has partnered with student groups to lead fun, engaging campaigns to encourage the safe use of reusable bags when retrieving takeout.

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2018 - June 2019: 
Goal: 

Vendor Management

UPDATED

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

Progress: 

A committee of faculty and staff worked to create a healthy materials statement, intended to anchor all sustainable purchasing practices going forward. The statement reads: “As part of its daily operations, Yale will endeavor to purchase and use products made from materials that do not cause adverse effects to humans or the environment.” Implementation will be handled categorically, and the first phase will include plastics purchasing.

Goal: 

Sustainable Packaging

UPDATING

By 2020, establish and promote sustainable packaging standards.

Progress: 

Sustainable packaging efforts have evolved to become part of our overall healthy materials goals, as reflected under the Vendor Management goal.

Material Flow Systems

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

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2018 - June 2019: 
Goal: 

Pay As You Throw

ACHIEVED

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

Progress: 

The Pay As You Throw pilot took place in Spring 2019, the first of its kind at an American institution of higher education. The experiment included three treatment groups and two control groups; details about the pilot can be found on the Yale Sustainability website. Departments from around campus were engaged, and one of the treatments focused specifically on Yale College. Data and outcomes from the pilot were assessed, and the final analysis was completed in Fall 2019. 

Goal: 

Targeted Waste Reduction

ACHIEVED

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

Progress: 

Material flow analyses on pallets, animal bedding, and paper were completed, and an additional assessment on cardboard is underway. 

Purchasing and Disposal Decision-Making

Cultivate sustainable purchasing and disposal decisions

This Objective is supported by the following goals. Progress reflects activities and accomplishments from July 2018 - June 2019: 
Goal: 

Materials Outreach and Engagement

ACHIEVED

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: 

Efforts around engagement and empowerment included workshops, presentations, and listening sessions (including operations and custodial staff). We also achieved our paper reduction goal, with paper purchases decreasing 13% below 2017 levels. Going forward, we will continue to measure our progress around materials outreach and engagement through goals on waste diversion and green cleaning chemical usage. These goals are to divert 60% by 2024 while maintaining or reducing overall volume of waste, and for 40% cleaning chemicals used, by volume, to be green preferred or green certified by 2022. Due to COVID-19, the metrics for these categories are currently unavailable. We look forward to reporting on our progress in 2021. 

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: 

Transitioning to a new online reuse platform was explored and formulation of a pilot was underway, but ultimately put on hold due to COVID-19.