• Recycling Operations Center
    Grounds and Recycling Operations Center

2014 - 2015

CU Recycling LogoEstablished in 1976, the mission of the University of Colorado’s Recycling Services is to cost-effectively reduce and recover resources from the waste stream, while promoting the environmental and social benefits of recycling, and providing opportunities for meaningful student involvement.  Recycling is managed at CU by a partnership among student government, Housing and Dining Services, and Facilities Management.  Over the past thirty-eight years, the program has exemplified responsible materials management and is now targeting a campus zero-waste goal of a 90% diversion rate by 2020 (See the University of Colorado Sustainability Plan)
*all data based on totals from July 1st, 2014 through June 30th, 2015


Campus Diversion GraphDiversion

  • Over 2,541 tons were reused, recycled, and composted, diverting over 43% of campus materials from area landfills.
  • Materials are collected from approximately 6,000 deskside and 1,500 central locations.  The program serves 29,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff on a 650-acre campus with 87 academic/auxiliary and 103 residence halls/family housing buildings.
  • Five grades of paper as well as one, co-mingled container grade, totaling over 1,077 tons (See our accepted materials for recycling). 
  • Over 267 tons of grounds debris and 712 tons of pre/post-consumer foodwaste composted.
  • Comprehensive collection of additional materials: automotive, electronics, cartridges, C&D, etc.
  • Recycling Operations Center completed in May of 2015 to upgrade and densify campus recyclables.
  • Zero Waste Events across campus, including Ralphie’s Green Stampede in CU Athletics, led to over 50 tons of materials recycled or composted, along with an average diversion rate of 83% at Folsom Stadium during the football season


Students sorting recycling at campus recycling centerEconomics

  • Cost of in-house operation is shared within Facilities Management, Housing and Dining, and Student Government through a combination of student fee support, General Fund dollars, charge back mechanisms in auxiliary units, as well as revenue from the sale of materials
  • Recent and historic consultant studies have shown that in-house delivery of services is cost effective when compared to the private sector
  • Integrated waste minimization within vendor contracts for soft-drinks, printing, electronics, and others


Zero Waste Student teamSocial Benefits

  • Applied academics including research and internships
  • Over 1,700 volunteer hours with Ralphie's Green Stampede
  • Computers to Youth program up-cycles surplus equipment and bridges the “digital divide”
  • Reusables drives capture over 28 tons of reusable clothing, books, and appliances donated to civic groups for resale

Students Sorting Compost after football gameEnvironmental Benefits

  • Waste minimization programs include: reusable mugs and water bottle give-aways, waste exchanges, pay-for-print, reusable office supply giveaway, water refill stations across campus, etc
  • Regular reporting on Zero Waste goals through AASHE’s Strategic Tracking and Reporting System  (STARS), EPA’s WasteWise program, and the US Zero Waste Business Council
  • An estimated 11,369 metric tons of CO2 equivalent were reduced from reuse, recycling, and composting last year. These savings are comparable to removing annual emissions of 2,500 passenger vehicles, conserving 24,200 barrels of oil, or the annual energy consumption of 1,251 households.