Accelerating a zero-waste future
A zero-waste future requires a systemic approach. At Harvard, we aim to sustainably manage all waste streams—including plastics, electronics, recyclables, and organics, as well as construction, demolition, and hazardous waste—while prioritizing waste prevention and reduction.
How is Harvard reducing waste?
Harvard is taking a systemic approach to waste prevention and reduction, aiming to ensure the materials that the University purchases and handles are used effectively and for as long as possible. Harvard is also strategically preventing waste throughout our value chain, while minimizing on-campus municipal solid waste (or trash) and sustainably managing other waste streams.
We are focused on piloting solutions on campus to reduce waste. The Office for Sustainability is developing guidance and resources to help Schools and Business Units create their own zero-waste plans and goals.
Harvard aims to measure and report data annually for Harvard’s major waste streams and develop a strategic zero-waste plan by the end of 2024, including guidance and resources to help Schools and Business Units create their own zero-waste plans and goals.
Reuse, Recycle/Compost, and Sustainably Manage
- First Reuse: Harvard’s first focus is on reusing and repairing products/materials on campus.
- Second, Recycle and Compost: Harvard has a robust process for recycling and composting across campus.
- Third, Sustainably Manage all waste streams.
Piloting Solutions to a Zero-Waste Future
- In 2021, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) partnered with Harvard Recycling and Waste Management to launch a plastic bag and film recycling program that has collected more than 2,000 pounds of plastic from the Harvard waste stream.
- The plastic bag pilot project has also been explored by Harvard Business School (HBS), Harvard University Information Technology, Harvard Art Museums, and Harvard University Mail Services.
- Learn more about how Harvard is managing its waste and recycling: Recycling & Waste Management | Harvard Energy & Facilities
- Download waste signage
New life for Harvard’s compost
Compostable materials collected on Harvard’s campus are used to produce energy.
4+ waste audits
3 fix-it clinics
Nearly 11,000 lbs. of lab plastics recycled
80-90 truckloads of furniture
5K lbs. of material
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