Sustainability and Resiliency

Strategic Waste Plan

Reaching 50% diversion from the landfill is an ambitious goal that requires the participation of all Brown community members.

In 2019, Facilities Management embarked on a multi-year strategic waste plan that identifies and removes barriers to proper waste diversion on campus. This involves creating new design standards for waste stations that aim to standardize and simplify stations while providing informative waste-sorting signage.

Phase 1: Built-In Waste Station Retrofits

Student sorting trash on campus

While the campus has employed single-stream recycling for many years — meaning all recyclables can be placed in the same container — fixed waste stations did not reflect this.

Phase 1 of the Strategic Waste Plan entailed retrofitting countertop and wall waste stations across campus to remove non-single stream apertures such as paper slots and can or bottle sized openings.

Now, all units are sized appropriately to be able to fit the largest recyclable container offered at our dining units, and apertures are approximately the same shape. Clear sorting signage has been affixed behind the waste stations to indicate which openings are for recyclables and which are for landfill waste.

Phase 2: The Trash Buddy Program

Staff with trash buddy

The Trash Buddy program — a standard blue deskside recycling bin with a small wastebasket attached — was implemented in staff and faculty offices and cubicle spaces in 2019/2020 to incentivize proper waste disposal and increase awareness of one’s waste patterns.

A pilot program operated by Brown’s Office of Sustainability and Custodial Services at four buildings on campus showed that these units decrease both recycling and trash contamination rates, as well as the amount of trash produced on average.

Other benefits include the reduction of the number of plastic liners used around campus and increased awareness of how to sort one’s waste.

Trash Buddy FAQ

Phase 3: Standardizing Waste Bins Across Campus

Waste bin on curb

The last phase of the Strategic Waste Plan will ensure all community-space bins follow Brown’s waste standards.

Staff and student interns from the Office of Sustainability will work with building managers and custodial staff to properly place, size, and pair waste bins and incorporate informative, waste sorting signage.

Brown's Waste Bin Standards