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Sustainability at ESF
Zero Waste Infrastructure

The Office of Sustainability, Student Affairs and student volunteers conducted a bin audit of the Syracuse campus during the summer of 2019 to better understand why campus recycling rates were falling below the national average. The results were telling! Interior bins were unlabeled and mismatched. In one building alone, there were 28 different types of trash and recycling bins being used. Even with the best of intentions, it was difficult to properly sort material on campus.

Image of floor plan with 28 different types of bin listed

PDF floor plans were printed and used for the interior bin audit. Photos of each bin type were also taken and correspond with the numbers you see on the left of the above image. 

Image of floor plan showing numbers written in each room, depicting location and type of bin


Interior bin audit in action! Staff and students entered every room on campus and made note of the location and type of every bin found.

The Office of Sustainability received approval from College Leadership to purchase new, matching office, hallway and exterior bins. A formal compost program was added as part of the refresh. Now, anywhere you see trash and recycling bins in a hallway or event space, you will see compost bins too!

Each trash, recycling and compost bin on campus features educational signage explaining proper sorting techniques. Traditional office trash bins were replaced with 1.15 gallon linerless mini bins and custodial service to office trash and recycling collection was reduced from five days a week to one day a week. This practice not only encourages office occupants to compost (mini bins are not washed by custodial staff), but it also challenges them to pay close attention to the type and quantity of material they bring to campus. The reduced pickup schedule also allows custodial staff to spend more time cleaning on campus and less time collecting bins!

Standard recycling bin next to mini trash bin, both with educational signage


Office mini trash and recycling bins

trash, recycling, compost triple stream plastic bins

Corridor trash, recycling and compost bins

trash, recycling, compost triple stream metal bins

Entryway trash, recycling and compost bins

Visit Recycling and Compost for more information about those programs and Zero Waste & Circularity for detail about our zero waste and circularity programs and their impact.