Waste Programs

As DU works toward its 2035 goal of becoming a zero-waste campus, efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling and composting are critical. The Waste Team at the Center for Sustainability works on new and innovative ways to educate the DU community on a minimal waste lifestyle, to reduce and reuse items, and to improve operations in campus departments. As one of the most visible aspects of sustainability, waste practices are a great entry into campus sustainability.


Zero Waste Athletics

When a group of passionate and tenacious students began the Zero Waste Hockey program in 2013, it was the first of its kind in the US. Since those first years, the Center for Sustainability has continued to engage highly motivated and capable students in leading the way to align all ticketed sporting events at the Ritchie Center with zero-waste best practices. During the 2019 school year, hockey games boasted an average diversion rate of 87 percent, gymnastics reached an average diversion rate of 86 percent, and all other sports clocked in at 80 percent or better.

Want to volunteer your time to help with the effort? Email sustainability@du.edu

student emptying waste bin

Zero Waste Newman Center

Inspired by the work happening at the Ritchie Center, in 2016 a music student passionate about waste reduction took on the challenge of moving Newman Center events towards zero-waste best practices. In its first year, the program saw nearly all events reaching over a 90 percent diversion rate — the level needed to be considered truly “zero waste.” Since that successful first year, students have continued to expand the program. In the fall of 2019, the entire Newman Center building was fitted with new waste bins and signage, allowing for zero-waste practices at all times. 

group of students and children picking up waste

Bin Mapping and Waste Auditing

In an effort to increase waste diversion rates and engage with sustainable practices in offices, classrooms and common spaces on campus, the Center for Sustainability does in-depth analyses of the waste bin placement and waste stream composition in various buildings. This is a prerequisite for adding composting service to their space and builds partnerships with campus partners toward waste diversion goals.

Interested in adding composting service to your building?

  1. Request an audit: The Center is so excited that you would like to help take your building to the next level and add composting service there. There is a significant waiting list of buildings who have reached out for this service, and the Center is trying to get to everyone in the order they contacted us. 

  2. Provide a Floor Plan of your Building: The first step is to do an assessment of the waste bins you currently have in your building. One easy way to increase recycling and promote composting in your building is proper waste bin placement. Sustainability interns will provide a list of recommendations for locations and types of waste bins for your building. This will include a cost estimate for converting your building to composting service.

  3. Schedule a Waste Audit: This step will evaluate current diversion rates in the building. Interns will work with Custodial Services and Facilities to collect one day’s worth of waste from your building, then sort and analyze it. Student interns will provide another report with recommendations to improve the waste diversion rate in your building.

  4. Budget: At DU, each building is responsible for providing their own waste receptacles. Adding composting service to your building will cause a significant increase in your custodial costs: a typical trash can liner costs about 3 cents, while a compostable bin liner costs over 50 cents. This can be quite a significant operational cost increase for Custodial Services. Buildings are asked to provide this cost difference for the first year of compost service or make a budget request for the next fiscal year.

  5. Continue the Conversation with Facilities: After the Center for Sustainability has completed its Bin Map and Waste Audit, they will pass this information along with your contact information to Facilities Management and Planning for cost, logistics and other details to transition your building to include compost and additional recycling.

  6. Education in Your Building: While having the proper bins in place will go a long way toward improving your waste diversion rates, at the end of the day, waste sorting is an individual choice people make every day. Help people in your building make the right choices by educating them through email, signage and trainings throughout the year. The Center for Sustainability is happy to help you with this!

Questions? Concerns? Reach out to sustainability@du.edu

students looking through the waste donation tables

Move-Out Donation Drive

Every year, students leaving campus for the summer holidays leave literal tons of gently used clothing, furniture, lamps, mirrors, storage bins, kitchen items, bathroom items, food and so much more. Rather than allowing these materials to get thrown into a dumpster and taken to a landfill, the Center for Sustainability runs an annual donation drive to collect, sort and store these materials for use in the Orientation Thrift Store the following fall. Through a huge effort of dedicated student leaders, the Center recruits dozens of volunteers to help with the process and keep a huge amount of waste out of landfills. Donations are accepted during the entire week of Move-Out each June. 

Check out the list of acceptable items here.

Interested in volunteering to help with the collection drive? Email emily.schosid@du.edu