When it comes to waste reduction and recycling, waste reduction is our primary goal because it has the most impact. Reduced food waste is the number one solution to addressing global climate change, so it is a large part of our initiatives, partnerships, and outreach on campus.

Resources like our zero-landfill event planning guide, office resource checklist, and sustainable swag purchasing guide are distributed regularly to faculty and staff through our robust network of Green Team captains, who represent 93% of academic departments and a total of 71 campus offices and departments. 

We also partner with the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University, a student-run service organization that works to distribute extra prepared meals donated by the dining hall and other partner organizations to food insecure populations in Winston-Salem. Any excess food that cannot be salvaged for meals is brought to the Campus Garden to be turned into rich compost for our garden beds. In return, a portion of the produce grown at the Campus Garden is distributed to families in need in the community through Campus Kitchen to help combat food insecurity in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. 


Composting is the biological decomposition of organic waste (e.g. food or plant matter) by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms under controlled conditions. This decomposition produces compost, a nutrient-rich substance that can be added to soil to aid in plant growth. You can find numerous resources for composting at home online, including on the EPA’s website.

On campus, organic material is collected for composting in several locations. Pre-consumer food waste is collected at the Fresh Food Company (the Pit), North Dining, the ZSR Starbucks, and Zick’s. Pre and post-consumer food waste is collected at North Dining. Collecting organics can be difficult in public spaces, as it’s important to keep the bin free of contaminants. That is where the Compost Crew comes in. 

The Compost Crew

Interested in helping divert waste on campus? Sign up for the compost crew! This group plays a vital role in supporting our campus-wide zero-landfill events and initiatives. Some potential roles as a member of the compost crew include:

  • Meeting with leaders from student organizations, as well as faculty and staff who host meals and events on campus
  • Marketing new initiatives
  • Helping coordinate the logistics of moving food waste to a pick-up location
  • Being present at events to help attendees sort their waste appropriately

Please sign up here to learn more and Brian Cohen, program coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, will reach out to you directly.

Office Organics Collection

The office organics collection program began in 2018 to empower faculty and staff to divert organic waste from the landfill. To date, there are 55 organics collection bins in offices and departments across the Reynolda campus. Are you a faculty or staff member interested in helping your department or office divert waste? It’s simple — we will provide the compost bin and compostable bags and stop by your office to pick up your organics regularly. Contact sustainability@wfu.edu for more information and help your office get started with composting.


Choose to Reuse

We aim to make using reusable water bottles a convenient choice for all Wake Forest students, staff, and faculty. When surveyed in the 2010-2011 academic year, campus users indicated that they wanted a convenient way to obtain chilled, filtered water on campus. A decade later, there are now 200+ refill stations located in high traffic areas around campus that fulfill this need and keep a running count of how many disposable bottles are eliminated through their use. In addition, we provide free, reusable bottles during many of our outreach activities that encourage our campus community to #ChoosetoReuse.

Recycling on Campus

Who manages recycling on campus?
The Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling, located in Facilities and Campus Services, is responsible for coordinating waste pickups throughout campus. In addition, the Surplus Property Program re-purposes items on campus and facilitates the recycling of Wake Forest’s e-waste.

What is the recycling collection process on campus?
Plastic bags that line trash bins are opaque black, and bags that line recycling bins are clear. Custodial staff members remove all bags from waste stations separately, tie each one off, and place them all together in a cart. A member of facilities picks up the bags from the custodial staff’s cart outside the building, and places the bags in a truck. From there, the facilities staff member transports the bags to the facilities yard, separates out the bags by color (opaque black and clear) and places them into recycling or trash dumpsters respectively. Click here to view a PDF illustration of the recycling collection process.