Emory University has partnered with waste management and hunger relief company Goodr as its holistic waste management provider to help achieve the university’s zero landfill waste goal.
Starting with pre-consumer composting this summer, the partnership has already diverted nearly 140,000 pounds of food waste from landfills, preventing over 156,000 pounds of carbon emissions.
Goodr came to Emory’s attention from its work with the Atlanta Wealth-Building Initiative, a nonprofit focused on closing the racial wealth gap in Atlanta. Goodr provides composting and other landfill diversion services to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Georgia World Congress Center, among others.
“Emory is proud to partner with Goodr, a minority and woman-owned business, to implement climate solutions such as food waste diversion from landfills and food recovery that feeds hungry people,” says Ciannat Howett, Emory’s associate vice president for resilience, sustainability and economic inclusion. “Keeping food waste out of landfills has been ranked by Project Drawdown as one of the most important climate solutions globally, and food recovery has tangible local benefits in feeding the hungry in our community.”
Over the next several months, Goodr will work with Emory to further diversion efforts of Emory’s other waste streams, including all recycling materials and additional support for edible food recovery, track progress through proprietary technology, and provide a dashboard of real-time cumulative reporting on diversion across all waste streams.
“We are honored to become a member of Emory’s network of sustainability champions,” says Goodr CEO Jasmine Crowe. “We look forward to helping Emory waste less by managing logistics and tracking everything through our technology so Emory can see their diversion rates and better understand their carbon footprint. As one of the few waste management providers in the country offering surplus food recovery, our services align with Emory’s goals to be environmentally friendly but also community-focused.”
In 2015, Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) released its Sustainability Vision and Strategic Plan, and shortly after OSI and Campus Services worked with a team of consultants to craft a materials management master plan to map progress toward achieving the goal to divert 95 percent of waste from landfills by 2025. This new partnership with Goodr reinforces Emory’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills and enhance environmental justice by lessening the negative effects of landfills on already marginalized populations.
Emory is leading a multitude of efforts designed to support its landfill diversion goals:
- The Emory Waste Policy guides campus waste management changes and offers standardized recycling and composting stations across campus and clear instructions to enable the entire campus community to eliminate landfill waste.
- Emory’s Sustainability Vision & Strategic Plan includes the goal to divert 95 percent of non-construction campus waste from municipal landfills by 2025.
- Emory’s Sustainable Events Program guides student and employee event planners to implement Zero Landfill Waste events.
- When there is excess food prepared in Emory Dining locations, the student group Emory Food Chain recovers much of the excess food and repurposes it into meals for area food pantries and shelters.
- On June 15, President Gregory L. Fenves met with leaders of the student-led Plastic Free Emory group and signed the “Break Free from Plastics” pledge, which outlines a five-year plan for reducing unnecessary single-use plastics on Emory’s Atlanta and Oxford campuses.
Progress on reducing waste
After launching the Emory Waste Policy in January 2018, the university’s landfill diversion rate jumped from 59 percent at the time of launch to 72.8 percent in 2019 and climbed steadily to 74.5 percent in 2020. These increases show the resilience of the university’s standardized waste program despite setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the closure of the Atlanta area’s prominent compost processor, resulting in a temporary halt to Emory’s diversion of food waste and animal bedding from landfills in September 2020.
Since partnering with Goodr, Emory has re-started composting of dining kitchen scraps and laboratory animal bedding and is preparing to roll out the diversion of post-consumer compost—the green compost bins in buildings and outdoor spaces—alongside an educational campaign to ensure proper sorting.
“The biggest barrier we still face to re-starting post-consumer composting is the accidental inclusion of materials such as plastic, metal, and items like chip bags and food wrappers in the compost bins,” Howett says. “We as a community must focus our attention to include only food, paper napkins, paper food containers and cups, and compostable utensils from Emory Dining facilities in our compost bins. As we clean up this stream, we can go back to pre-pandemic practices of diverting all of our organic waste from landfills.”
To promote the education and outreach necessary to achieve Emory’s goal to divert 95 percent of waste from landfills by 2025, OSI launched the Zero Waste Ambassadors program in 2018. This robust network of university and health care faculty, staff, and students conduct peer-to-peer education amongst their networks. To get involved and to learn more about how to recycle and compost properly, visit sustainability.emory.edu.
This article originally appeared in the Emory Report. Read the original article here.