At A Glance

C.U. Recycling - 2014

Established in 1976, the mission of the University of Colorado’s Recycling Services is to cost-effectively reduce then recover resources from the waste stream while promoting the environmental and social benefits of recycling and providing opportunities for meaningful student involvement. Over the past thirty-seven years, the program has exemplified responsible materials management and is now targeting a campus zero-waste goal by 2025.

• Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CU’s student government (CUSG) and administration signed in 1991, forming a partnership for recycling operations. CUSG is responsible for conducting procedural training and promotions, processing of recyclables, and overseeing contracts for the marketing of materials.
• Facilities Management, (FacMan) an administrative department, is responsible for collection of deskside containers, collection of central containers, siting and upgrading collection sites, and an automated recycling and disposal system.
• Partnership collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and administrators who contribute to C.U.’s waste reduction, green procurement, advocacy campaigns, and research projects.

• Administrative staff of 2.0 FTE FacMan (2 FM employees total), 0.5 FTE FacMan (1 student office assistant employee total) and 2.5 FTE CUSG (5 permanent University staff total).
• Collection staff of 11.5 FTE FacMan (13 FM employees total) and 2.1 FTE FacMan (7 student deskside employees total).
• 4 FTE student processing staff (23 CUSG employees total).
• 1.5 FTE student promotions staff (5 CUSG employees total).
• Over 1,700 hours of community service work referred by C.U.’s Office of Student Conduct.

• With over 2,458 tons collected, C.U. is achieving a campus diversion rate of 43.7%, the highest in the program’s history.
• Materials are collected from approximately 6,000 deskside and 1,459 central locations. The program serves 29,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff on a 650-acre campus with 163 buildings.
• Dual stream in academic/administrative buildings and single stream in residence halls for a combined total of over 1,052 tons.
• Over 260 tons of grounds debris and 418 tons of pre/post-consumer foodwaste composted.
• Over 320 tons of reusables including campus surplus as well as clothing, books, and appliances donated to civic groups for resale from residence hall move-out.
• Comprehensive collection of additional materials: automotive, electronics, cartridges, C&D, etc.

• 3 high cube vans – for manual collections from over 1,459 central locations.
• 2 front load compactor trash trucks – equipped for automated recycling collection from 49 residence hall and family housing docks.
• 2 rear load compactor trucks – for automated collections of corrugated cardboard at 57 docks.
• 1 electric-assist 3 wheeled bicycle – for special event recycling and pilot program collections.
• Solar-electric and gas powered utility vehicle for special collections and events.
• 6,700 sq ft Intermediate Processing Facility adjacent to CU’s Folsom stadium.
• Five screened, multi-material enclosures for staff and vendor drop-off.


• $470,000 Intermediate Processing Facility (IPF) constructed in 1992 to upgrade and densify campus recyclables. Seven year ROI from avoided disposal costs.
• Revenues from the sale of materials under competitively-bid contract are returned to CUSG to help offset approximately $270,000 annual student fee subsidy (approx. $9.00/student).


• Pervasive environmental justice mission and work with groups such as Americorps, Habitat for Humanity, Cerebral Palsy, Goodwill Industries, and campus-based diversity initiatives.
• More than 12 academic projects facilitated each year.
• Award-winning “Computers to Youth” program up-cycles surplus equipment and bridges the “digital divide”.


• Incoming student and staff orientations.
• City of Boulder-funded “Green Teams” help give recycling information to off-campus students.
• Zero Waste operations in Folsom Stadium and Coors Events Center
• Secure document handling service reduces electricity, costs, and vehicle traffic.
• Waste minimization programs include: reusable mug give-aways, waste exchanges, pay-for-print, print over-run policing, and revision of vendor contracts.
• Campus Master Plan revised to include recycling provisions in remodeling and construction.
• Purchasing programs for environmentally preferably products.
• Revised vendor contracts for soft-drinks, printing, electronics, and others.
• Applied academics including research and internship coordination.
• Assistance provided to numerous off-campus committees and coalitions.
• Regular reporting on Zero Waste goals through AASHE’s Strategic Tracking and Reporting System (STARS) and EPA’s WasteWise programs.

• Zero Waste transition – Planning has begun to reach Campus Master Plan Zero Waste goal. Results from a recent waste composition study and an independent consulting report are setting priorities and Partnership roles.
• Compost expansion and can parity – Facilities Management is spearheading plans to implement composting and the paring of all trash bins with recycling bins in all general fund buildings.
• Relocation of recycling facility
     – Planning underway for Athletics to rebuild CU’s on-campus recycling facility sufficient for present and future needs.

2013 Surpassed 90% diversion in EPA’s National Game Day Challenge
2009 America’s Top Green University Ranking, Sierra Magazine (campus-wide)
2006 College and University Recycling Award, American Forest and Paper Association
2005 Higher Education Recycling Leadership Award, Dell Computer Corporation
2000 Climate Protection Award, US Environmental Protection Agency
1990 Winner of MTV’s national campus recycling contest