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Waste Diversion at Agnes Scott

Our Ultimate Goal:  Zero Waste

By promoting waste reduction through reuse and repair, as well as waste diversion through recycling and composting, the college strives to attain zero waste. Zero waste is commonly considered to be the diversion of 90% of the waste stream away from conventional landfills. Our current waste diversion rate is 73% and climbing! 

What does it all mean?

reduce: to use less of vital resources such as water and energy and to decrease the overall consumption of other products and materials in order to reduce waste and protect the environment.

reuse: to prevent waste by using an object or material again instead of purchasing new materials conserving resources, money and energy. 

recycle: to use discarded materials to manufacture a new product, to reduce what we waste and send to the landfill 

rethink:  to reflect on our personal decisions and their impacts on the environment and pursue new habits which consider environmental, social, and economic outcomes.  

Zero waste: Our zero waste policy aims to eliminate the idea of waste by rethinking our current waste management system and maximizing our existing recycling and reuse efforts.

By promoting waste prevention, through reuse and repair, and waste recovery, through recycling and composting, we will conserve resources and reduce waste. Approaching zero waste will help us to better meet our goals of environmental, social, and economic sustainability through education and the reduction of hazardous and solid waste sent to the landfill.


The Impact at Agnes

In 2008, our college began to dramatically increase our waste reduction efforts. We were only diverting 24% of our waste from the landfill at that time, and we knew we had to make some changes if we wanted to make a difference. We implemented a single-stream recycling program and saw our diversion rate increase, but in order to really have an impact we knew that we would have to greatly reduce our trash volume. Food waste and food service organic materials took up a large amount of our dumpsters, making it clear that a composting program was essential to our diversion goals.

Beginning in 2009 we contracted for composting services. Our composting program quickly became a part of campus culture, with support from students, faculty and staff, particularly in dining services. By 2010 our diversion rate was 65%, and now in 2013 it is up to 73%. In addition, Agnes Scott has consistently ranked both regionally and nationally in RecycleMania, a recycling and waste diversion competition with over 300 colleges and universities participating nationwide. In 2010 Agnes Scott ranked #11 nationally and #1 in Georgia for composting.