Waste

GW has adopted a Zero Waste approach — reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills while increasing recycling, reuse and composting. Although GW faces many significant challenges as an open campus situated in an urban environment, it is working diligently to accomplish the aims laid out in the GW Roadmap to Zero Waste, which was published in fall 2016.

Trash, Recycling, and Compost at GW

graphic of trash

Landfill

  • Dirty Food and Drink Containers
  • Food Scraps
  • Straws and Plastic Utensils
  • Tissues, Paper Towels, Napkins
  • Plastic Wrap, Plastic Bags
  • Styrofoam
  • Candy and Snack Packaging

Recycling graphic

Recycling

  • Plastic Cups and Containers
  • Flattened Cardboard, including Pizza Boxes
  • Milk, Juice, and Soup Cartons
  • Newspapers, Magazines and Books
  • Junk Mail and Office Paper
  • Plastic Bottles and Lids
  • Steel and Aluminum Bottles, Cans, and Containers
  • Glass Bottles and Jars

Highlights

Managing Waste at GW

Recycle Bin

  • Solid waste (trash)
  • Single-stream recyclables (mixed paper, cardboard, glass, metal and plastic containers)
  • Ferrous metals
  • Document shredding
  • Electronic waste
  • Hazardous waste
  • Clothing and household goods
  • Furniture, laboratory and classroom equipment and office supplies
  • Yard waste
  • Food waste 

GW is committed to managing waste responsibly in collaboration with our faculty, students and staff.

The university categorizes solid waste as follows and then manages it through a transfer station, waste-to-energy facility or via proper reuse and recycling channels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GW creates new degree for green chemistry

Chemistry Lab

 

In 2018, GW celebrated the first graduating class from its new Master of Science in Environmental and Green Chemistry. The coursework for this program is unique to GW, with a proactive approach to addressing toxicity and learning how to apply state-of-the-art processes and technologies to evaluate environmental impact. A capstone project gives students an opportunity to work with organizations such as the Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Green Move Out

Green Move Out

 

Each May, students have the opportunity to donate, rather than dispose of, items they no longer need. Green Move-Out makes the residence hall move-out process more environmentally and community-friendly through a multifaceted donation drive. During move-out, students drop items, such as bedding and linens, non-perishable food items, clothing and books, in boxes in residence halls labeled with a Green Move-Out sticker. These items are then bagged and donated to local charity partners. Between FY14 and FY17, nearly 75 tons of usable items were donated through the program, which is made possible through an unprecedented partnership of students, staff and faculty volunteers and sponsors.

Get Involved with GW Compost

A food waste drop-off program was launched in Spring of 2018 as a pilot program for post-consumer composting by two GW Students. The goal of the program was to contribute compost from students to GW's existing infrastructure to deliver compost to Prince George's County Organics Compost Facility. The program began as a two-hour weekly collection in Kogan Plaza where volunteers would help sort through compost for contamination. The ultimate mission of the program was to educate students about why composting is important and how to do it properly. As of the Spring 2019 semester, the composting program has diverted an astonishing 400 pounds of food waste each week from traditional landfills.

The program is about to enter its third semester, with collections taking place on Fridays in Kogan Plaza from 8:30a - 12:30p along Tabling Row. 

Acceptable materials for composting are organic materials and paper products which include:

  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • bread
  • eggshells
  • meat
  • bones
  • dairy products
  • tea bags (without staples)
  • pizza boxes
  • soiled cardboard (without tape)
  • any product labeled acceptable for industrial composting facilities.
  • Materials can always be brought to our volunteers who know how to properly identify materials and can help answer any questions. As always, when in doubt we encourage that questionable materials be thrown out. 

Compost Drop Off

Sign Up to Participate

Any GW student, staff, or faculty can participate in the program. We recommend participating with your roommates or other staff in your office, and suggest collecting food waste in an airtight container in your freezer.

Sign up to participate

Food Waste

Volunteer with Us 

Volunteers help screen participants' food waste for contaminents, weigh the collections, answer questions about composting, and drop the bins off for collection. We use the GWServes process to manage volunteer shifts.  

Volunteer with us