Recycling Operations Center
Grounds and Recycling Operations Center
Students sorting recycling on the containers line
Student sorting on both sorting lines
Fac Man recycling crew unloading materials
Fac Man crews emptying recycling
Recycling Operations Center dock
Eco Rep student staff
Students sorting compost at a football game
Students sorting at a waste composition study

Release of Fiscal Year 2020 Waste Diversion Metrics - 11/19/2020

CU-Boulder’s Recycling Partnership has concluded its analysis of CU-Boulder’s solid waste management activity for fiscal year 2019-2020. This report contains the campus waste diversion percentages based on EPA guidelines for municipal solid waste (MSW) diversion factors. The analysis includes reuse, recycling, composting, and landfill statistics. Performance measures such as the rate diverted from landfills as well as the environmental benefits of the program have also been calculated. Several of the summary tables and charts are included in this summary report. Additional information is available on request.

The COVID-19 pandemic had significant impacts on waste operations across campus. When the campus closed in March, trash volume fell dramatically, the Recycling Operations Center (ROC) closed, and all collected material was single-streamed versus being sorted.

The Partnership consists of employees in Facilities Management (FM), Housing Facilities Services, and CU’s Student Government. The Partnership is guided by a Board of Directors who reports to the Vice Chancellor for Infrastructure & Sustainability and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. Results of this analysis will continue to guide continuous improvement as well as update annual reports and publications.

Solid waste management data has been compiled and analyzed by FM Campus Building Services associate directors and staff. Methodology for this analysis is consistent with national recording and reporting definitions. The analysis includes weight-based records from certified scales for approximately 91.1% of all materials reported here. EPA approved conversion factors were used for several materials where scale-based weights were not possible (i.e. motor oil, fryer grease). Looking forward, the partnership will focus on collecting and tracking of universal hazardous waste and other appropriate items, such as light bulbs and non-alkaline batteries.

Some of the findings include:

  • A 50.65 percent diversion rate. By comparison, the state of Colorado municipal solid waste diversion rate in 2019 was only 15.9%. The City of Boulder’s reported diversion rates for 2019 was 50%. Nationally, 35.2% was diverted from landfills in 2017.
  • A 16.14 percent decrease in overall campus generation (943 tons)
    • A 15.24 percent decrease in landfilling (435 tons)
    • A 17.00 percent decrease (508tons) in materials diverted
  • Academic Compost 5 Year Increase: 171 total tons / 250%
  • FM collections from zero to 195 tons—325 hours collecting
    • Cost avoidance with FM service: $110k—including tipping/service
    • 4500 bins tipped
  • Academic compost totals exceeded FY19 levels even with COVID campus restrictions
  • Campus switched to single stream recycling when COVID restriction started
    • ROC shut down in March and did not reopen
  • Ralphie’s Green Stampede diverted 43.5 tons during the 2019 season, the second highest total in the 10 years of RGS
  • 1.95 tons of aluminum was separated at the ROC and recycled as its own commodity

CU campus waste diversion history

CU waste diversion and population

LANDFILL and DIVERSION Summary Table





Year

Tons Diverted

Tons Landfilled

Tons of Total Waste

(Diverted + Landfill)

Diversion Rate

FY01

1,293

3,578

4,871

26.54%

FY02

1,480

3,826

5,307

27.90%

FY03

1,465

3,812

5,277

27.77%

FY04

1,453

3,857

5,310

27.36%

FY05

1,658

3,810

5,468

30.32%

FY06

1,892

3,657

5,549

34.09%

FY07

1,877

3,676

5,552

33.80%

FY08

1,937

3,443

5,380

35.99%

FY09

2,154

3,535

5,689

37.86%

FY10

2,022

3,363

5,385

37.55%

FY11

2,198

3,017

5,215

42.15%

FY12

2,318

3,206

5,524

41.97%

FY13

2,458

3,164

5,622

43.72%

FY14

2,358

3,165

5,523

42.69%

FY15

2,541

3,278

5,820

43.67%

FY16

2,754

3,332

6,086

45.25%

FY17

2,958

3,176

6,134

48.22%

FY18

3,161

2,999

6,161

51.32%

FY19

2,990

2,853

5,841

51.18%

FY20 2,482 2,418 4,900 50.65%

Diverted tons and volume

FY20 Recycling breakout by material