Sustainability and Resiliency

Waste Diversion

Brown is working to make it simple for community members to direct waste to the right place.

Waste in Rhode Island is a significant concern due to limited landfill space and proximity to waterways and the ocean. Brown has taken aggressive steps to minimize waste coming onto campus,and to divert waste leaving campus from the landfill through recycling and composting.

In 2016, the Office of Sustainability set an aggressive, aspirational goal of diverting 50% of the University's waste through the implementation of compost in dining facilities, increased donation rates and improved education about waste-sorting practices.

Recycling, donating and composting means that less material ends up in our landfill. Waste that breaks down in the landfill increases the risk of soil, water, and air pollution and creates the greenhouse gas methane that is significantly worse than carbon dioxide. A significant amount of the waste we currently send to the landfill is considered contamination — waste that could have been diverted into other waste streams but when it’s mixed with landfill waste, it often cannot be sorted out at the landfill.

Reaching 50% diversion from the landfill is an ambitious goal that requires the participation of all Brown community members.
The goals of the Trash Buddy are to incentivize proper waste disposal, increase awareness of and participation in sustainable practices and move Brown closer to its aspirational waste diversion goal of 50% diversion from the landfill.

Our Commitment to Compost

Composting is the process of transforming organic materials such as food waste into a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer. Brown implemented compost collection in all dining hall food prep locations and in the Sharpe Refectory front dining areas in 2017.

Composting is an essential part of Brown’s commitment to sustainability. It has many benefits, including enriched soils, reduced contributions to landfills, and decreased the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

630.4 tons

organic material sent to local composting facility in FY22

FY22 Year in Review

Shred-It Recycling Program

Paper shreddder

72.33 tons of shredded paper recycled

Pine trees

1315 trees saved


218 cubic yards of landfill space saved

Glass of water

509,215 gallons of water saved

Tracking Compost Volumes

Brown contracts with two compost haulers to pick up food waste for composting. This chart shows the total tons hauled away for composting. Composting declined significantly in FY2021 due to the pandemic’s impact on dining operations and a reduction in total food purchases.