WASTE

Johns Hopkins University is active in reducing waste and promoting recycling and composting on all of its campuses. In fiscal year 2017, Johns Hopkins University achieved an overall waste diversion rate of 43%.

The university has also developed initiatives focused on source reduction, including reducing total paper consumption. When we do buy paper products, our goal is to use post-consumer recycled content paper.  For example, campuses use at least 50% post-consumer recycled content for bathroom products, with most using 100%.

Use this map to find out where each type of waste stream goes and how it is processed.

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WASTE 101

Sorting your waste can seem difficult, especially when you’re on the go. To help you better understand what bins you should be using and work to reduce contamination of recycling and compost bins, we’ve developed this Waste 101 graphic. For further questions about waste diversion, please contact Homewood Recycling at recycling@jhu.edu. 

RECYCLING

All of Johns Hopkins’ campuses have robust and convenient recycling programs. Methods and bins used for collecting recyclables vary by campus and division, but all paper and cardboard, aluminum cans and foil, and plastic containers (#1 and 2) are recyclable. Plastics #3-6 are no longer recyclable because our vendors have stopped accepting them. Other unique programs exist on the Homewood Campus for items such as writing utensils, ink cartridges, and personal care products through Terracycling. Submit a request for styrofoam recycling after collecting one clear bag’s worth of white #6 styrofoam. If your office uses Amazon Business Green Mountain K-cups, boxes and postage will be included in the program so you can collect used K-cups and mail them back. The grounds will be composted and the cups will be recycled. For dorm materials, Homewood Housing and Residence Life Offices host move-out collections for Goodwill at the end of the year. See the Recycling Services website for more information or to submit a recycling request. Click on your campus/division for specific recycling information and resources under the “Campuses & Contacts” section of the site.

COMPOSTING

Organic and biodegradable waste collected for composting on campus is taken to an off-site service facility where it is processed into soil amendment for use in landscaping on some campuses and sold commercially for gardening and farming in the region. Beyond creating a new useful product, composting also diminishes the public and environmental health problems caused by traditional waste disposal at landfills and incinerators. Air pollution from the burning and burying of waste in landfills causes public health and environmental problems such as cancer, asthma, and species and habitat loss. Additionally, applying soil amendment from composting reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides that runoff into the Chesapeake Bay and harm aquatic ecosystems. On campus, the following items are accepted for composting: all food scraps (pre and postconsumer); compostable plastics made from plant material from campus dining locations (identified by #7 and the letters “PLA”) including utensils, to-go containers, and cups for cold drink; and all paper products like plates, coffee cups, napkins, and paper towels. Click on your campus/division to determine if compost collection is available where you are under the “Campuses & Contacts” section of the site.

REDUCTION & REUSE INITIATIVES

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle is not just a neat catch phrase; it is an order of processes. Reducing consumption is always the first priority. Buy less and use reusable mugs, bags, and other items so that you have less to throw away. The majority of the negative environmental impacts of consumption occur at the production stage, so consuming less will always be better for our health and the planet. Also, buy things with post-consumer recycled content: this strengthens the market for recycled materials to be the feedstock for new products. And look for alternative to glass and plastic that have much stronger recycling markets and reliable infrastructure, like aluminum cans.

For everything left over, we look for opportunities to reuse the materials, and then finally we recycle what is left over. Everyone is invited to donate unwanted goods from their working and housing spaces – from furniture and office supplies, to electronics and clothing – to one or more of the many reuse and donation programs at the university.

  • As undergraduates move out of Homewood Campus residence halls in May, donation bins and trucks make it easy for students to donate their unwanted items, ensuring they are reused and not unnecessarily disposed of. The Eco-Smart Move Out Program is a collaboration between Community Living, Homewood Recycling, and Sustainability.
  • Furniture reuse programs available at both Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine are designed to reuse and recycle office furniture rather than simply purchasing new items. 

GET INVOLVED

Check out Homewood Recycling on Facebook and Instagram. They post helpful recycling tips, fun facts, cool things happening on campus, news, and silly pictures of awesome Hopkins students. They also have a short video on YouTube about where your waste goes after you toss it in a bin.

Homewood Recycling does employ a small number of students. If you are interested in working with Homewood Recycling, or if you are part of a student group and would like to collaborate with Homewood Recycling or host a zero-waste event, please email Leana Houser (lhouser@jhu.edu).