Sustainability and Resiliency

Trash Buddy Program

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.

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 waste.

Making the Switch

Research has shown that the Trash Buddy system, and other similar programs, increase recycling rates and decrease trash production. Similarly, the elimination of plastic liners significantly reduces plastic consumption and disposal.

Other colleges have noted that the Trash Buddy program encourages self-awareness of waste generated in the community. Because the bins are sized to replicate how much trash is typically produced in an office setting, it makes one's impact on the community more visible.  As an institution committed to decreasing its impact on the environment, the Trash Buddy system is one means to get everyone involved and dedicated to that mission.

Seeing Results

According to Dartmouth College, one year after the implementation of a mini-bin system, 200 additional tons of trash was diverted from the landfill and recycling rates increased by one third. According to the Director of Sustainability at the time, implementing the system incentivized people to, “have a relationship with your trash,” and increased self-awareness of how much one throws out on a regular basis. By promoting this awareness, Dartmouth College has taken massive strides in changing their impact on the environment and surrounding communities.

Research done by Recycling @ Work on workplace recycling found that smaller desk-side trash bins coupled with big recycling bins increased proper sorting from 65% to 85% and decreased contamination in recycling bins by 20%. The rate of recyclables found in trash bins decreased from 29% to 13% and instances of office paper found in the trash almost disappeared.