Zero Landfill Waste Emory

Emory’s New Waste Policy

As part of Emory’s goal to divert 95% of its waste from municipal landfills by 2025, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives is implementing a new campus-wide Waste Management Policy, which will take effect January 2018. Find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Standardized Bins and Central Commodity Collection

With this new waste policy program, all major University buildings will be equipped—at no cost— with five standardized bins in order to collect the following commodities:

  • Compost

  • Plastics and Metals

  • Mixed Paper

  • White Paper

  • Landfill Waste


Exterior bins will be standardized to provide two collection streams: compost and mixed recycling. All waste can be either composted or recycled, beside glass. There will be designated collection areas for glass waste.

Desk-side Waste Bin Service
The servicing of desk-side waste or recycling bins by Campus Services’ staff will be discontinued. While Emory staff and faculty may keep a bin or other container at their desk, which they can use to transport their disposables to central collection areas.

By 2020, all University departments will include educational information regarding Emory’s landfill diversion commitments in new employee, faculty, and student orientation materials, to be supported by Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives.

All University events will be zero landfill waste events by 2020. To phase in this commitment, events over 100 attendees will be zero waste beginning in 2018. Those over 50 attendees will be zero waste beginning in 2019.
All University events will be free from disposable plastic water bottles by 2025 unless granted an exception by the Executive Vice President for Business and Administration.

Conference Rooms
Large conference rooms, with 25 seats or more, may have the five standard bins located within the conference space; if not they will be conveniently located outside the room. Signage will be placed to direct occupants to the bins location. The five standard bins will be provided by Campus Services, or upgraded bins if requested by the building, which will be serviced.

A new dedicated team of Emory employees will begin servicing the recycling and compost collection bins primarily during day-shift hours. Emory employees are encouraged to welcome these new staff and see them as vital team members in our common effort to further Emory’s sustainability.

Why the Change in Waste Policy?
The degradation of wastes in landfills results in the production of leachate and gases, which produce emissions that are potentials threats to human health and the environment. Landfill sites contribute 20% of the global anthropogenic methane emissions, and they also emit carbon dioxide, both potent greenhouse gases. Leachate can migrate into groundwater and surface water, and can contain toxic chemicals. Construction and management of landfills have ecological effects that may lead to landscape changes, loss of habitats and displacement of animals. Socio-economic impacts of landfills include risks for public health derived from surface or groundwater contamination by leachate, the diffusion of litter into the wider environment, and nuisances such as insects, odors, smoke and noise for communities close to landfills. As a result, landfills likely have an adverse negative impact upon housing values and disproportionately affect low-income, resource-poor communities of racial and ethnic minorities.
Click here to watch a short video about the new Waste Management plan. Click here to learn more information from the Waste Video Competition winning videos about landfills and recycling.

Emory’s long history of minimizing waste began with a librarian-led recycling effort in the 1990s. This eventually evolved into the Emory Recycles program, which now provides source separated recycling at all University buildings and has pioneered the composting program, at Emory. Today, Emory consistently works to reduce landfill waste, better manage our campus’ reusable and finite resources, and serve as a model of sustainable choices and transformative practices at every level. Emory University’s 2025 Sustainability Vision and subsequent commitment to divert 95% of waste from municipal landfills is always prioritized when designing new campus projects or programs. As of 2015, Emory’s landfill diversion rate stands at 50%. Past initiatives aimed at reducing waste have significantly decreased the amount of municipal waste. As part of Emory’s goal to become zero waste(meaning at least 90% of waste is diverted from landfills), we are implementing a new waste policy in order to increase recycling rates and encourage greater sustainable living among the Emory community.

Take a look at the EMORY WASTE POLICY FAQs for answers to commonly asked questions.

Don't see an answer to your question on the FAQs? Email emorysustainability@emory.edu for any questions or concerns you may have.

Want to help?
Volunteer as a Zero Waste Ambassador
This group's mission is to empower students, faculty and staff with the knowledge and resources to actualize the Sustainability Vision waste goals. It is critical to foster a community that recognizes the value of waste management as it intersects with environmental justice, conservation, and social impacts. Zero Waste Ambassadors will serve as peer-to-peer educators in residence halls, in offices and labs and during events to educate about proper waste management at Emory and to facilitate the adoption and implementation of sustainable event planning throughout all major campus events. Let us know of your interest here.

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