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%.
Due to changes in the recycling market, our vendors have also changed the items they are accepting for recycling – most notably, our vendors will no longer accept #3-6 plastics and glass because of their decreased value. This has launched our Back to Basics campaign in which we are encouraging the Hopkins community to focus on recycling the basics (#1-2 plastics, aluminum, and paper products). To learn more about these changes and where our recyclables are sent, please refer to our Recycling FAQs page.
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. Other unique programs exist for items such as writing utensils, ink cartridges, and electronics through Terracycling. For dorm materials, Homewood Housing and Residence Life Offices host move-out collections for Goodwill at the end of the year. Click on your campus/division for specific recycling information and resources under the “Campuses & Contacts” section of the site.
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 utensils made from plant material, 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
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 a one page Waste 101 document. For further questions about waste diversion, please contact the Office of Sustainability at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reduce-Reuse-Recycle is not just a neat catch phrase; it is an order of processes. Reducing consumption is always the first priority. For everything left over, we look for opportunities to reuse the stuff, 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.