Zero Waste at NC State University

In 2009, the University of North Carolina System Sustainability Policy Manual 600.6.1 directed all UNC system schools to develop policies and programs that strive towards zero waste.

...but what does zero waste mean?

For NC State's Waste Reduction & Recycling, zero waste can be defined as sending nothing to the landfill. However, it is also about creating "no" waste. For this reason, WRR focuses first on source reduction, followed by reuse, composting, and then recycling.

We are halfway there.

As of June 30, 2020, NC State had diverted 54.3% of waste generated away from the landfill.

(This rate excludes construction projects on campus which have a tracked diversion rate of 90.26%.)

Waste Generated in Pounds: FY2019 - 2020

A wide variety of waste generated on campus still has no viable method for reuse, composting, or recycling- just imagine the different types of waste being taken out of our Veterinary Hospital, Student Health Center, or the numerous research labs on campus!

However, we know that our waste-to-landfill is currently filled with items that could be potentially reused, composted, or recycled!

In 2015, Waste Reduction & Recycling conducted a waste characterization study which examined the waste-to-landfill dumpsters from 33 different buildings on campus including:

  • 10 Academic & Administrative Bldgs.
  • 10 Residential Halls
  • 4 Dining Halls
  • 2 Libraries
  • 3 Mixed Use Facilities
  • 4 Research & Medical Bldgs.
It was discovered that up to 70% of the waste being sent to the landfill could be diverted.
Contents of Waste-to-Landfill from 2015 Waste Characterization Study
The data provided from the Waste Characterization Study (WCS) provided a roadmap for diverting waste-to-landfill through:
  1. Improved Recycling
  2. Increased Composting
  3. Expanded Material Collections

These operational improvements lay a solid foundation for our campus to divert material away from the landfill.

To truly achieve zero waste, our NC State campus and community must change their purchasing and consumption habits.

Reduce your waste from the beginning!
Being able to identify what you are "throwing away" is the first step striving for zero waste.

NC State conducts multiple waste audits each year to determine what buildings/users are disposing. This data helps drive education and potential programs to divert this waste.

Individuals should also examine their waste-to-landfill. This will help prioritize steps to living zero waste in a manageable and personal way.

Next, switch-out single-use items you dispose of most and incorporate a reusable option.

NC State encourages our Wolfpack to BYO!

Bringing your own cup, bag, spork, straw, (and more) helps reduce waste-to-landfill!

Campus C-stores and other retailers also provide drink discounts to those who BYO-cup!

Discover zero-waste product replacements for those items that can't be reused, recycled, or composted.

Save resource and money by doing with out, making your own, or purchasing zero waste designed products.

Learn more about campus reuse, recycling, and compost programs on campus-- then use them!

Sort your stuff and reduce our waste-to-landfill!

Find a friend to help support you on your journey!

Get Involved on campus and Strive for Zero Waste Together!

At NC State, the Zero Waste Wolves are just one of many student organizations dedicated to encouraging others to live more sustainable.

Challenge the status quo and #ThinkAndDo!

College of Design student Abbey Carr recently created these "Scrap Traps" to be placed through the numerous design and art studios to capture materials that could be reused and out of the landfill.

By challenging "how things have always been", students, staff, and faculty make improve our campus!

Zero waste requires an integrated approach from every member of the Wolfpack.
Amanda Franklin was recognized for her efforts to incorporate sustainability and zero waste habits for NC State's Mail Services.

By incorporating zero waste into our purchasing, consumption, and daily habits, NC State can make a lasting impact for our community and planet!

Together we can strive for Zero Waste at NC State University!