Waste Not, Want Not, Earn Gold Stars

By Mary J. Loftus

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Positive Diversion: Cleaning out School of Medicine labs became a cooperative effort in recycling and donating.

Courtesy Emory University Campus Services

When Emory’s School of Medicine decided to clean out their labs and offices on the fifth floor of the Briarcliff Campus, leaders enlisted the help of the Office of Sustainability Initiatives and Emory Waste Management and Recycling.

Rather than tossing everything out, they were able to divert nearly 90 percent of the material from the floor to construction, single-stream, metals, and electronics recycling.

The teams also collected four pallet-sized boxes of lab consumables and supplies that were directed to MedShare for distribution to developing countries. A longtime Emory and Emory Heathcare partner, MedShare is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care and the environment through the recovery and redistribution of surplus health supplies to those in need.

The effort was led by teams from Campus and Auxiliary Services, which includes Emory Recycles; Emory Secure Shredding; Waste Management; Staging Services; Surplus Properties; Pest Management; and the Environmental, Health, and Safety Office.

Emory’s widespread commitment to campus sustainability recently earned the university a gold rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). STARS is a self-reporting sustainability evaluation tool developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, with broad participation from the higher education community.

Emory’s evaluation by STARS was based on a comprehensive list of credits in three major areas: education and research; operations; and planning, administration, and engagement.

Of three hundred schools that registered to participate in STARS, 129 have been ranked to date; Emory is one of just twenty-four to be rated STARS Gold, the highest rating achieved so far. “The STARS system is the preeminent sustainability rating in higher education, so this ranking is significant and an important honor,” says Ciannat Howett 87C, director of the Office of Sustainability Initiatives.

Emory received STARS credit for programs that convert research animal bedding to nutrient-rich compost, allow for surgical gown reuse and sharps container recycling, and support sustainable foods (such as the Thanksgiving offering featuring heritage breed turkeys), to name just a few.

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