Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling
The Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (OWRR), located in Facilities, is responsible for coordinating recycling activities and waste pickups throughout campus. In addition to those initiatives, OWRR’s Surplus Property Program re-purposes items on campus and facilitates the recycling of WFU’s Technotrash.
Food Waste Reduction
The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University, a student-run service organization, works to distribute extra prepared meals donated by the dining hall and other partner organizations to food insecure populations in Winston-Salem.
Dining Services can provide low-waste catering options upon request.
“Did you know, only food and paper go in the North Dining Hall dish return? All wrappers, lids, and caps must be thrown away.” Thanks to a robust outreach campaign and a great story in the Old Gold & Black, Deacons are making history with the first post-consumer composting program on campus. During the span of the nine-day campaign, 3,600 pounds of food and paper waste was collected by Gallins Family Farm and transported to their offsite facility for composting.
Although this diversion is something to celebrate, we can never take our eye off the ball. Turning the same 9-day campaign, 900 pounds of food waste was turned away and sent to the landfill due to contamination. One milk carton, or a couple of plastic wrappers, can render a whole container of food waste unusable.
As a campus community, we have the opportunity to turn North Dining Hall (NDH) into a near zero-waste facility. Aside from making sure you follow the collection rules, tell a friend about composting at NDH and remind them, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Also check out this compost bulletin board kit and post it around your residence hall or in your departmental lounge.
Still confused about what to compost or why it matters? Reference the compost FAQs below and email with any further questions.
North Dining Hall Compost FAQs
What happens if something other than food and paper go in the dish return?
All of the food and paper must be thrown away. If anything that can’t break down naturally in a three month time period enters the dish return, all of the waste in that batch is landfilled.
What should I do if I’m not sure whether something can be composted?
When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to throw something small away than to ruin a whole batch of compostable waste.
What is compost?
Compost is organic waste which, over time, breaks down to become nutrient-rich soil.
Where do the food scraps and paper go?
Gallins Family Farm picks up food and paper waste collection bins from campus. They turn the organic waste into rich compost called Carolina Dynamite that nearby farms, gardeners, and landscapers purchase. Some of it comes back to our own campus garden on Polo Road.
Why does Wake Forest compost?
Composting helps reduce the amount of waste Wake Forest sends to the landfill. Not only does aerobic composting reduce the amount of methane that enters the atmosphere; it also reduces the cost of the waste we pay to be landfilled.
“Pro Humanitiate” is in action on the sustainability front at Wake Forest through a partnership with UpcycleLife. The Charlotte-based, not-for-profit produces one-of-a-kind bags and accessories by upcycling things like billboards or banners. It isn’t just that UpcycleLife is keeping vinyl out of our landfills, it’s the way they do it. The mission is to help protect the environment, and at the same time transform lives by creating jobs for individuals in under-served communities.
The environmental problem is that vinyl billboard and banner material takes hundreds of years to break down in landfills. UpcycleLife diverts this material from the landfill by giving it a new use, and at the same time teaching folks in impoverished communities valuable job skills such as sewing, shipping, and receiving. UpcycleLife feels they have developed a method to impact a waste stream and create a steady employment model. Ideally, the model could be scaled in such a way that UpcycleLife could make a huge impact on the waste stream in the broader US.
The results of the partnership with Wake Forest so far are 3 banners from the university being upcycled for the cause. By recycling these 3 banners UpcycleLife was able to employ 4 individuals from the local community for a total of 32 hours of paid work. On the flip-side, the upcycled products tell a unique story and provide users with a little piece of Wake Forest history.
According to Emma Kate Hosey, with the Charlotte-based organization: “UpcycleLife creates jobs for disadvantaged citizens by creating a product that reduces our impact on the environment. Our products are one-of-a-kind, hand-made, and made of reclaimed vinyl. We love taking a dirty banner and making it into a piece of art.”
Key Statistics about UpcycleLife:
- Employed, trained and graduated over 12 refugee men and women in the Charlotte NC area in 3 years
- Upcycled over 40,000 different products
- Rescued over 10,000 lbs of vinyl from entering landfills
- Provided free weekly English training and financial advising
Demon Deacons rallied together this May to divert over 22,500 pounds — over 11 tons — of discarded goods from the landfill as part of Deacs Donate, an end-of-year move-out waste reduction campaign. Residence Life and Housing, Facilities and Campus Services, and the Office of Sustainability each played an important role in educating residents about the annual program.
The program, originally designed by the Resident Student Association and Residence Life and Housing, encourages students to deposit housewares, furniture, clothing and canned goods at designated locations during move-out. This year, Wake Forest collected over 17,000 pounds for donation to Goodwill. The non-profit provides actual weights of donations collected, rather than estimates. These more accurate metrics allow staff members to compare collections to the amount of waste landfilled and calculate a diversion rate for the end-of-year move-out period.
Thanks to the Better World Books program, students once again kept this semester’s used textbooks out of the dumpsters. Large cardboard collection boxes were placed near check-out lines in the campus Bookstore so students could donate books that the bookstore was unable to buy back. More than 2000 pounds of books collected at Wake Forest will be sold online, with a portion of the sales donated to our local literacy partner, the Augustine Project. Their Literate Girls program is a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
Nearly 1600 pounds of paper was collected for recycling between May 2, when the first students moved out of residence halls, and May 9. This is an increase from 1100 during last year’s move-out recycling. Residents are provided individual paper recycling bags, designed and distributed by Residence Life and Housing, to easily separate the paper recyclables and keep the waste stream cleaner.
Also at move-out, first-year students were given the option of returning the green personal recycling totes that they received on move-in day. Nearly 800 bins were collected for cleaning and will be redistributed to returning students next year. This effort alone kept 1500 pounds of plastic out of the landfill.
The total amount of waste diverted during the move-out period increased 7 to 12 percent, a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill. In solid tons, we kept the equivalent of several African elephants out of the landfill. As the largest of all land mammals, that’s a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill.
Wake Forest’s celebration of Earth Day this year included the announcement of Champions of Change award winners. This was the first year of the program, which recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability across campus. Provost Rogan Kersh and Sr. VP/CFO Hof Milam presented the awards.
Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.
- Residence Life & Housing and Financial Services were jointly named champions of change in Resource Conservation. Residence Life and Housing dramatically reduced solid waste and conserved water through renovation and retrofit programs this past year; Financial Services supported the conversion to electronic business processes campus-wide.
- Campus Kitchen was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Campus Kitchen repurposes prepared, but not served, food from our campus dining facilities into balanced meals for members of the broader Winston-Salem community.
- For Teaching, Research and Engagement, Lynn Book and her faculty colleagues Angela Kocze and Wanda Balzano were recognized for their work in the new course, “Women, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability.” Students collaborated with community partners Margaret Norfleet-Neff and Salem Neff, the mother-daughter team who founded the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market.
- Abby McNeal was recognized for her Bright Idea in turf management and the installation of the UgMo Wireless Soil Sensor System at Spry Soccer Field. UgMo is an underground monitoring system that measures soil moisture at the root level and determines when and how much to water on a zone-to-zone basis.
Thirty nominations were received for the four awards. A committee evaluated the nominations based on:
- The ways in which the nominees have helped advance one or more of the Wake Forest University campus sustainability strategic goals
- The level of participation by colleagues within the department or unit
- The measurable impact among constituents across campus or in the community served
Additionally, Green Team captains Peter Romanov, Darlene Starnes and Carol Lavis were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. 65% of our departments and units across campus are now led by Green Team captains – they support their colleagues with the resources and encouragement to integrate sustainability into everyday workplace decisions.
Those big green dumpsters in front of the residence halls should be the containers of last choice at move-out. A number of programs are available to make it easy for students to donate or recycle unwanted possessions to prevent these items from ending up in the landfill. Read on for a summary of the move-out programs planned for this year.
What? Reusable house wares, clothing, small appliances, school supplies, canned/dried food and furniture
When? May 2 – May 9
How? Smaller items can be placed in blue Goodwill donation boxes in the lobby of every residence hall. Bulky items (futons, shelving units, bookshelves, rugs, etc.) can be taken out in front of each residence hall and placed next to the Deacs Donate sign. Deacs Donate donations are collected by the Resident Student Association, in collaboration with Goodwill.
In 2012, Residence Life and Housing’s Deacs Donate program helped students put 5,225 pounds of clothing and dorm room essentials into the hands of those in need in the Winston-Salem community.
Residents of the Polo Rd. and Rosedale Circle RL&H Theme Houses should contact their resident advisers for information about the location of the donation bins in their areas.
Questions? Contact Ashley Jones ( ) or Cherise James ( ), RSA advisors
Recycling Tote Collection
What? Small green recycling totes with white handles
When? May 2 – May 9
How? If you received a green personal recycling tote on move-in dayand do not wish to keep it over summer, place it next to the GREEN recycling bin signs outside residence halls. Unwanted totes will be cleaned and redistributed in the fall.
Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )
Better World Books
When? April 30 – May 19
How? All books can be deposited in collection boxes located conveniently near the registers in the school textbook department.
Students always seem to end up with textbooks that the bookstore just cannot buy back at the end of the semester. Better World Books collects and resells these volumes to fund literacy initiatives at home and abroad. Those books that cannot be resold are donated directly to partner programs around the world.
Questions? Contact the Office of Sustainability ( )
Recycle Your Notes
What? Class notes and all recyclable paper
When? May 2 – May 9
How? Recycle loose-leaf notes, class handouts, fliers and other paper and small pieces of cardboard by depositing them in the blue paper recycling bags given to all residents. Full bags can be placed next to the BLUE paper recycling signs outside residence halls.
Questions? Contact Megan Anderson ( )
What? Reusable to-go containers
When? April 22 – May 9
How? Return any green reusable to-go containers to the Fresh Food Company to receive your initial $5 deposit back. For the week of finals, bio-compostable disposable to-go containers will be used in all dining establishments.
If you are a Wake Forest University student or a member of the alumni body, you may be familiar with the “Wake the Library” program hosted at midnight in ZSR throughout the week of finals every semester. You may be less familiar, however, with the work of ZSR Green Team captains Mary Scanlon and Peter Romanov, as well as Mary Beth Locke and other ZSR Sustainability Committee members, to make the event sustainable.
Their collective efforts are featured in the newly published resource “Focus on Educating for Sustainability: Toolkit for Academic Libraries.” In the chapter Teaching by Doing, the leaders discuss their commitment to decrease the amount of waste produced at the event. Check it out for yourself.
Spring semester is here: new classes, new students, and the highly anticipated opening of North Campus Dining Hall. The 21,000 square foot-facility was designed and constructed to LEED-silver standards. From equipment to furnishings, it showcases some unique – even one-of-a-kind – sustainable design features.
John Wise, Associate Vice President of Hospitality & Auxiliary Services at WFU, who helped oversee the project, emphasizes the value of creating a building that does more than just meet the functional needs of campus: “Beyond simply meeting the needs of a growing student population, it is important that we create an environment that showcases sustainable practices that students can adopt and learn about now, so that when they leave Wake Forest, they will bring an understanding of what’s possible with them.”
Energy and Water
Behind-the-scenes technical features create a relaxed campus hangout that is also energy efficient. The variable air volume heating and cooling system and exhaust hoods are expected to be at least 12 percent more efficient than a standard system. A leading-edge, real-time exhaust hood system will also reduce energy use in the kitchen. Fluorescent and LED lighting, combined with occupancy sensors in numerous spaces, lower the electricity load of the building as well. Dual flush toilets and low flow faucets, part of the campus standard adopted four years ago, reduce water usage in the facility.
On the South side of the dining hall, a unique solar photovoltaic “awning” covers an outside seating area. This, the third small-scale solar array on the WFU campus will provide up to 10 kilowatts (kW) of power during peak hours. Numerous wide-framed windows also allow natural light to fill the space, reducing electric lighting needs.
The facility’s real-time water and energy footprint can be viewed online or on screens in the building via WFU’s building dashboard system.
All of the dining hall’s pre-consumer and post-consumer waste (e.g. vegetable peels, food scraps, and biodegradable napkins) are fed into a state-of-the-art pulper. The industrial pulper macerates food waste, from banana peels to chicken bones. With water that is recycled through the system, the ground “meal” is transported out of the kitchen into bins that are collected regularly by Gallin’s Family Farm. “The pulper is the first big step towards the campus-wide goal of developing a comprehensive pre and post-consumer composting program,” says Megan Anderson, WFU Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager.
An electronically monitored, direct plumbed waste oil management system filters and pumps fryer oil to a sealed outdoor storage tank with the touch of a button. This feature reduces the possibility of oil spillage and contaminations, maintaining the quality of the oil so it can be efficiently repurposed into biodiesel.
Carefully chosen furnishings contribute to the comfort and sustainability of the space. The project team collaborated with local companies for the construction and sourcing of the majority of the furniture: Bistro ’34 lunch chairs and tables were created in Winston-Salem and High Point, cushioned banquettes were sourced from Newport, TN, Starbucks lounge furniture was built in Hickory, NC, and communal oak tables were cut and milled in Lincolnton, NC. The most local of all of the furnishings, however, are the four benches that line the atrium. The wood for the seats was milled in Durham and comes from oak trees that were removed from the project site; the frames were crafted in Winston-Salem.
To get to the dining hall from points south, visitors cross a unique pedestrian bridge. Although also visually pleasing, the bridge was required in order to preserve several of the heritage trees that surround the atrium of Farrell Hall. A traditional walkway would have resulted in significant root cutting and soil compaction, likely killing the trees.
David Davis, Associate Director of Landscaping Services and member of the WFU Tree Care Plan Committee, commented on the bridge: “I think this project makes a strong statement about the university’s commitment to preserving heritage trees.” The native, low-irrigation landscaping that surrounds the building also reflects a holistic approach to low-impact design and operation.
While all of these features translate into quantifiable energy and water efficiency, they also signify something greater: a comfortable space that supports the wellbeing of its occupants and the environment.
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
From lamps to pianos, if you have moved or discarded furnishings on campus in the past few years, chances are you have met Alan Winkler, Surplus Coordinator for Wake Forest University. With a passion for keeping anything reusable out of the landfill, Winkler collects, catalogs, stores, and delivers myriad furnishings and recyclable waste streams across campus.
Before Winkler was hired, surplus property was managed by Michael Logan, Manager of Strategic Sourcing in Procurement Services. Although Logan was successful in finding placements for some pieces through a basic surplus listserv, both Facility and Campus Services and Procurement Services recognized the system could do much more. “I am really thankful that we have leaders and a responsive administration on campus that recognized it wasn’t the best that the university could do,” said Logan.
What was a bare bones effort when Winkler arrived is now a thriving, well organized waste diversion program. “The surplus program was my baby,” Winkler said. With a background in logistics, Winkler tackled the substantial surplus inventory that had built up prior to his arrival. In the first year alone, the program helped the university avoid nearly $440,000 in expenses, mostly in avoided landfill fees and avoided expenses for new furnishings. In addition to cost savings, the program generates substantial resource savings: nearly 100 tons of waste have been diverted from the landfill in less than two and a half years. November 2013 also marked the first-ever WFU surplus sale. With over 200 pieces of surplus property sold to members of the Wake Forest community, this successful event could well turn into an annual offering.
Last year, Winkler began collecting electronic waste for recycling as well. Through established relationships with organizations like Goodwill, the Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, which houses the surplus property program, continues to find safer and more cost effective ways to divert potentially harmful waste streams, like electronics and toner cartridges, from landfills.
Winkler hopes to see even further expansion down the road. “The next step is to have the space, time, and staff to include office supplies in the program.” In its current configuration, the surplus program is only available to faculty and staff. Such an expansion would make some of the supplies available to students as well.
Whether the task of the hour is moving staff and faculty offices, helping a customer outfit a new office with gently used furnishings, strategically placing new recycling bins, or coordinating collection of inkjet and toner cartridges for recycling, Winkler can be counted on for courteous customer service and a commitment to Wake Forest’s campus sustainability goals.
By Hannah Slodounik, Program Coordinator
Beyond meeting regulated health and safety requirements, a new chemical inventory tracking system at Wake Forest provides a useful means of minimizing laboratory waste on campus. The system catalogs the thousands of different types of chemicals – from acetone to dimethyl sulfoxide – stored in academic buildings and laboratories, facility storerooms, and supply closets. The system can also be used to track the maintenance and calibration schedule of various pieces of laboratory equipment, which helps prevent premature breakdowns.
Although hazardous waste is collected routinely on campus, this inventory system identifies how chemicals should be disposed of, and under which deadlines, in a systematic way. This was previously difficult to monitor given the widespread distribution of chemicals across campus.
To date, it has been difficult for faculty and students from physics and chemistry to neuroscience and health and exercise science to know what chemicals colleagues in other departments might already have procured. In the past, this has meant that the purchase of both hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals has been duplicated. Exacerbating the problem, faculty and students are often left with surplus supplies due to minimum purchasing requirements.
Now, with the new system in place, a professor or graduate student can easily check online to see what each department already has in storage, before making any purchases.
Steve Fisenne, Associate Director of Environmental Health & Safety, had a major role in bringing the new system to campus and is particularly excited about the benefits it brings. “Implementation of this system will allow the university to uncover opportunities in sustainability, waste reduction, cost reduction and efficiency,” while complying with, “regulatory requirements and providing a safer working environment.”
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.
In March, we will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:
- resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
- academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
- service and social action, and
- bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).
We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.