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America’s 50 Top Colleges with the Best Recycling Programs

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As naturally progressive institutions, colleges should have a commitment toward recycling! After all, the world needs to drastically reduce the number of materials that it sends to landfills. And in 2019, just having a basic recycling program is not enough. Colleges need to be implementing innovative recycling solutions and encouraging their staff, faculty, and students to recycle as often as possible. This list will highlight the colleges in the US that are doing this the best!

If you’re someone who cares about recycling, then it’s important to attend a college with a proactive recycling program. After all, you don’t want to go somewhere that has its waste management out of control. Your college choice is very much a reflection of your attitudes. In that case, attending a college with a poor reputation in recycling could look very bad on you.

American colleges have been recycling for decades, with varying levels of success. They all have their own attitudes and approaches to recycling. This article examines as many different recycling statistics as possible, meaning that its selections are incredibly thorough. Essentially, it lists the 50 most comprehensive recycling colleges so that you don’t have to.

Any of the 50 colleges listed below is a fine choice for a student that values recycling. However, it’s also possible that none of the colleges on this list is right for you. If that’s the case, then this list is still valuable. Each entry includes a summary detailing how and why the college is recycling in the way that it does. These have been included so that you can be convinced to go to these colleges but also to help people compare and contrast their own further education choices to the best recycling colleges in America.

Methodology

Today, the primary source for reporting a college’s recycling efforts is the Recycle Mania competition held every year. This forms the starting point of our research. However, Recycle Mania’s results do not reflect the whole picture of recycling friendly colleges in America today. Therefore, to gain a wider perspective, other sources have been researched, providing wider criteria for a college’s eligibility in this list.

After locating the top recycling colleges on these lists, we’ve done our own extensive research. This has been done to ensure that the colleges are as committed to recycling as they seem and to discover any other recycling initiatives that the sources may have missed out on.

Our full list of sources is as follows:

Recycle Mania 2019 Results: https://recyclemania.org/scoreboard/current-results/

Grist, 15 creative ways that students and colleges are going greener: https://grist.org/article/15ways/

Grist, 15 Green Colleges And Universities: https://grist.org/article/colleges1/

The College Sustainability Report Card: http://greenreportcard.org/report-card-2011/awards.html

Clean River, 10 tips for campus recycling success: https://cleanriver.com/10-tips-for-campus-recycling/

Bevi, It takes more than just a campus recycling program: https://cleanriver.com/10-tips-for-campus-recycling/

Overall, our list entries are ranked by the total amount of recycling conducted, innovative recycling practices, aggregated methodology score and evidence of commitment to increasing recycling activities in the future.

Our results, from 50 to one, are here:

50. Sacramento State University

Sacramento, California

Website

In 2018, Sacramento State University was given an award on innovative-practices from the California Higher Education Collaborative Conference for reducing its organic waste. The program that won this award was BAC Yard. The BAC stands for Bioconversion and Agricultural Collaborative. BAC Yard is a collaboration between the college’s students, faculty and staff. They are using the college as a living laboratory to find more effective ways to compost waste in more efficient and sustainable ways. Bevi notes that one way that the college is using this waste effectively is to fuel the college’s shuttle service, helping the college to divest from fossil fuels.

49. Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts

Website

Tufts University has the goal of reducing its waste by 3% each year. Currently, it aims to achieve this in a number of ways. One of the largest is by encouraging students to donate items they would otherwise throw out when they leave accommodations. In 2018, the college collected 14,290 pounds of textiles, 719 pounds of food and much more in miscellaneous items. These items were either sold on, given to students on financial aid, given to the Somerville Homeless Coalition or turned into new items. Bevi notes that the college uses recycling trash cans that are separated by type of item, ensuring more efficiency. The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college a B in recycling.

48. Tulane University

New Orleans, Louisiana

Website

Bevi notes that Tulane University’s OZZI program has led to a significant reduction in plastic wastage on the college’s campus. This program means that students must use reusable containers for food and beverages. On-campus eateries provide these containers. When a student is finished with their meal, a student puts their food containers into an OZZI machine, which sanitizes and reissues the container to be used in another meal. Additionally, to discourage single-use bags, the campus charges 15 cents per single-use bag in the college’s dining and bookstore locations. The College Sustainability Report Card gives Tulane University a B grade in recycling.

47. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Website

Both University of Michigan’s faculty and students have been active in promoting recycling in the local community. Grist is quick to note that student organizations have held things like recycling competitions that raise thousands of dollars and recycle tens of thousands of bottles. The college’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Office also organizes a range of recycling events. At present, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is the 72nd best college for recycling on Recycle Mania. The college also gets a B in recycling from The College Sustainability Report Card.

46. Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Website

The main recycling achievements of Cornell University have come about due to its materials exchange programs. It currently has seven different programs that help members of the Cornell community give away their used items without trashing them. One of these is the System for Trade and Auction of Cornell Surplus (STACS) that sells materials that are no longer needed by certain departments to the public. STACS also allows departments to exchange materials at no cost to one another. Recycle Mania names Cornell University as being the 62nd most recycling friendly college, with 40% of its waste recycled. The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college a B in recycling.

45. University of Dayton

Dayton, Ohio

Website

In 2015, University of Dayton ensured that over 17,000 pounds of college equipment was recycled. Once a department has no need for equipment, the college sees if the equipment can be re-purposed in another area of the college. If there is no use for the equipment on college grounds but it is still usable, then the equipment is donated to an organization. Organizations that the college gives to include Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, Girls Club of Dayton and more. Overall, Recycle Mania names University of Dayton as being the 41st best recycling college, with 47% of its waste recycled. It has a B rating on The College Sustainability Report Card.

44. Syracuse University

Syracuse, New York

Website

Syracuse University’s current recycling program has been in place since 1990. As it has been in place for so long, the college has also been able to recycle in areas that many other colleges do not. For example, the college recycles all of the Styrofoam that is used in its laboratories. The College Sustainability Report Card gives Syracuse University a B grade for recycling. On Recycle Mania, the college ranks as the 40th most recycling-friendly, with it recycling 48% of its items.

43. University of Rochester

Rochester, New York

Website

Every year, University of Rochester hosts E-Cycle Day, which raises awareness on the importance of recycling electronics. But it also collects used electronics at this event, with each event being responsible for thousands of pounds of equipment being recycled. And this is just one of the many incredible events that the college runs every year to promote on-campus recycling. The College Sustainability Report Card gives University of Rochester an A grade in recycling. Recycle Mania, on the other hand, ranks it at 120th.

42. University of Wisconsin, River Falls

River Falls, Wisconsin

Website

The recycling program at University of Wisconsin, River Falls incorporates automotive products into its collections. This is part of the reason why The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college an A grade. Recycle Mania names the college the 104th best college for recycling. One of the primary ways that University of Wisconsin, River Falls recycles its materials is through selling electronics and other materials in a monthly Surplus Sale. This attempts to sell old college items online, and if they cannot be sold, then the items are donated to a non profit organization.

41. University of New Hampshire

Durham, New Hampshire

Website

The zero waste plan that University of New Hampshire has put together is 29 pages long. This shows that the college is serious about achieving its zero waste goal! The plan outlines many ways the college has implemented successful recycling efforts, such as the Zero-Waste Task Force and some areas that need improvement, such as the necessity of moving its current composting system. The College Sustainability Report Card gives University of New Hampshire an A grade for recycling. Recycle Mania is less generous, naming it the 101st most recycling friendly college.

40. Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts

Website

Although Boston University’s multi trash can recycling system may be a little more confusing for students, Bevi notes that it leads to much more efficient recycling. The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college an A grade in recycling. While Boston University’s 2016 recycling rate of 37% can certainly be improved upon, the college has come a long way. In 2006, the college’s recycling rate was just 3%. Boston University shows strong signs of improving its recycling rate further in future years. For example, the college’s catering service encourages those who use it to adopt zero waste catering for their events.

39. George Washington University

Washington DC

Website

In the long term, George Washington University aims to become a zero-waste campus. However, the college admits that is has a long way to go. Its most recent aim was to achieve 50% waste diversion. However, the college has created some impactful programs that should see its recycling rates increase notably in the future. For example, it has conducted comprehensive waste audits and has started recycling engagement efforts across its campus. Grist also commends the college for its adoption of paperless administration and “green move out/move in” events, which recycle unwanted items such as clothing, books and food from students who are moving in or out of accommodation.

38. Connecticut College

New London

Website

Practically everything that can be recycled at Connecticut College is recycled. For instance, the college’s sustainability department even provides collection boxes for student’s graduation gowns. And this attitude is nothing new. The college’s campus-wide recycling program has been running ever since 1970, meaning that it is older than some of the faculty. Overall, Connecticut College has a 53% recycling rate, according to Recycle Mania, making it the 27th best recycling college in the nation. But The College Sustainability Report Card only gives the college a B in recycling overall.

37. Rutgers University

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Website

In 2017 alone, Rutgers University was able to conserve 37,786 mature trees, 24,677 cubic yards of landfill space, 31,857,719 kw-hrs of electricity, 3,773 barrels of oil, 10,983,560 gallons of water and more due to its recycling. It is able to recycle on such a large scale due to its recycling program being a part of the college for decades. The first recycling program at the college dates back to 1972. Overall, Recycle Mania ranks Rutgers University at 25th place on its list of the best recycling colleges, noting that it recycles 54% of its waste. The College Sustainability Report Card only measures Rutgers University, New Brunswick’s efforts and gives it a B rating.

36. St. John’s University

Queens, New York

Website

From 2017 to 2019, St. John’s University has been able to increase its recycling rate from 50% of materials to 54% of its materials, according to Recycle Mania. The college is also an active participant in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge Program, which ensures that large quantities of its food is either donated, composted or not wasted in another way. At present, the college composts approximately 42 tons of food waste per year. The College Sustainability Report Card gives St. John’s University a B grade.

35. The University of Texas At Austin

Austin, Texas

Website

Bevi praises The University of Texas at Austin’s Trash to Treasure program. This student-run initiative collects donations at the end of the semester and then sells them to other University of Texas community members for just $1. The College Sustainability Report Card gives University of Texas at Austin an A grade for its recycling. Lastly, Recycle Mania ranks the college as the 76th best at recycling. However, like many other colleges, it has set the ambitious goal of becoming a zero waste campus by 2020.

34. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, Massachusetts

Website

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is the home of the CR3 Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling. This means that the college is one of the world’s foremost hubs of recycling. The center aims to “address a pivotal societal need,” in advancing “technologies that recover, recycle and reuse materials throughout the manufacturing process.” One of the center’s latest breakthroughs was a technology that identifies which parts of spent lithium batteries can be reused and which parts have impurities. The College Sustainability Report Card gives Worcester Polytechnic Institute an A grade. Recycle Mania names it the 57th best recycling college.

33. University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

The College Sustainability Report Card notes that University of Minnesota composts more than 30 tons of food every single month, giving it an A in recycling. Overall, 43% of the college’s waste is diverted from landfills, according to Recycle Mania. This is a healthy increase on the 39% rate that the college reported in 2018. University of Minnesota hasn’t set a deadline to achieving zero waste, but the college does state that that is its long term goal. However, it is already starting to implement a zero waste policy towards events that it holds.

32. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Website

In 1991, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill used to recycle just 11.9% of its waste. But in 2017, this had increased to an impressive 45%. What really kicked off the college’s recycling initiatives were the Green Games. These games take the form of competitions between the different residence halls of the college, such as getting different floors of each hall to recycle the most plastic film. The Green Games have been running and evolving at the college for over 25 years. Recycle Mania names the college the 56th best college for recycling. The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college an A in recycling.

31. Pomona College

Claremont, California

Website

2020 will be a major year for Pomona College’s recycling initiatives. It plans to ensure that 25% of the paper that it purchases is recycled, will host two major events that are zero waste, will have a 75% waste diversion rate and will partner with Claremont City to compost its food waste, among other aims. After achieving this next year, the college plans to reach zero waste across campus by 2030. The College Sustainability Report Card gives Pomona College an A for recycling. Recycle Mania names it the 46th best college for recycling.

30. Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Website

Recycle Mania notes that Arizona State University is the 37th best college for recycling, with 48% of its material being recycled in 2019. The College Sustainability Report Card also gives the college an A in recycling. Arizona State University believes that it can achieve two major goals by 2025. Firstly, it aims to recycle 90% of its waste and prevent 30% of 2008’s level of waste from being trashed in the first place. The college launched these goals in 2018. Within one year, the plan was already seeing success. It was able to produce 14% less waste per person in 2018 compared to 2008.

29. Grand Valley State University

Allendale, Michigan

Website

When Grand Valley State University switched to trayless dining in its cafeteria, it reduced waste by 15%. This is one of the reasons why The College Sustainability Report Card gives it an A in recycling. Recycle Mania names it the 36th best college for recycling, with 49% of materials being recycled. Grand Valley State University has had a recycling program in place since 1990. Over this time, it has created a range of innovative recycling practices in the college. For instance, for every ton of paper it recycles, the program plants one new tree.

28. Bentley University

Waltham, Massachusetts

Website

In 2015, Bentley University managed to exceed its goal of 50% waste diversion two years ahead of schedule. As well as being environmentally friendly, this recycling activity saved the college $170,000. Since meeting this goal, the college now aims to reduce its current waste by 60% by 2020, becoming a zero waste campus. Currently, all leftover food waste at the college is converted into biogas, and members of the college community can access a special online exchange to swap office equipment. CleanRiver commends Bentley University’s campus consistency in its recycling materials, which aids its goal of efficient waste diversion.

27. University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland

Website

50% of University of Maryland’s waste is recycled according to Recycle Mania, with the source naming it the 35th best college for recycling. Additionally, the college get an A in recycling from The College Sustainability Report Card. University of Maryland considers recycling to be “one of the greatest environmental success stories,” of the college’s history. The college has even won grant money to achieve zero waste at its athletic facilities, which should pave the way to zero waste college-wide in the future.

26. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Website

The programs that University of California, Berkeley’s Zero Waste team is currently running aim to get the college to zero waste in 2020. This is no easy task, as the Zero Waste team has to sort through 25 tons of waste per day. But the team is confident that programs such as using zero-waste caterers and running the Environmentally Preferred Products Roadshow will make the college achieve its zero waste goal. In 2019, 51% of University of California’s waste has been recycled, making it the 33rd most recycling friendly college in America, according to Recycle Mania. The college’s recycling program also get an A grade on The College Sustainability Report Card.

25. Carleton College

Northfield, Minnesota

Website

The Zero Waste Task Force has the goal of being able to make Carleton College a Zero Waste Campus by 2030. This task force dates back to 2012, when the college created the Carleton Community Waste Program. This program sought to expand composting opportunities, decrease contamination in recycling, reduce plastic trash can liner usage and create waste awareness throughout the campus. After these goals were achieved, the college set up the Zero Waste Task Force to implement further goals. Thanks to these goals, Carleton College is Recycle Mania’s 30th best recycling college, with a 53% recycling rate. The college also has an A grade in recycling from The College Sustainability Report Card.

24. University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Website

Grist notes that University of California, Los Angeles’s sustainability efforts are led by student organizations. Thanks to this program, most student organizations take recycling into consideration when curating and participating in activities. The College Sustainability Report Card also gives University of California, Los Angeles an A in recycling, noting that 85% of its food waste is composted. University of California, Los Angeles’s recycling activities have encouraged other organizations in Los Angeles to increase recycling. In fact, Los Angeles’s mayor’s office has even used the college’s recycling program as an example of what businesses and other groups in the city should strive to achieve.

23. Ohio University

Athens, Ohio

Website

The current waste recycling goal at Ohio University is 80%. In 2019, Recycle Mania states that it is currently 56%. However, the college has a strong system in place to ensure that the recycling rate rises. At present, there are 16,000 recycling trash cans across the college’s residence halls. Additionally, all offices have recycling containers. Grist, however, is incredibly impressed with Ohio University’s composting system. The college has the biggest composting system in America. This system is partially fueled through solar energy and turns leftover food into soil within two weeks. The College Sustainability Report Card gives Ohio University’s overall recycling efforts a B grade.

22. Drew University

Madison, New Jersey

Website

85% of Drew University’s dining hall food waste is composted, according the The College Sustainability Report Card, which gives the college an A grade. The college is also Recycle Mania’s 26th top recycling college. Overall, Drew University is striving to become a zero-waste campus. It has not set a deadline, but it has already implemented policies that complement this goal. For instance, 100% of the paper that the college uses is from recycled sources, and the purchasing department ensures that it buys from manufacturers who use the least amount of disposable packaging as possible.

21. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Website

Grist is impressed with how three of Yale’s dining halls have committed to turning food waste into compost. But this initiative spreads beyond the dining halls. Yale Hospitality’s events also provide composting receptacles, ensuring that as much food leftovers can be composted as possible. The College Sustainability Report Card gives Yale University an A grade for its recycling. The source is impressed with the college’s end of year and year-round materials exchanges, which prevent items from being discarded. But 2019 has seen Yale University trial-run a major new program that could see its waste diversion increase rapidly. This program is known as Pay As You Throw and will charge buildings based on how much material they send to a landfill. This program should help Yale achieve a 60% waste diversion rate by 2024.

20. The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

Website

For over a decade, The Evergreen State College has been running a massive composting program. Through this program, the college aims to expand its recycling efforts to gain zero waste by 2020. This expansion began by adding recycling and composting rooms to all first-year housing and then recycling trash cans all over campus. But perhaps the most impressive achievement of the college is the student-run Free Store. This store accepts donations of all kinds and then offers those items to other students at no charge. Due The Evergreen State College’s recycling efforts, Grist names it the fourth greenest college.

19. Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Website

The most recent improvement in Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s recycling activities was the introduction of composting in student residences. Prior to this, the college had also introduced composting in its cafeterias and in its restrooms. Recycling also factors into the education at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. For instance, students are taken to local recycling facilities to see how the materials that they design with will be disposed of. Overall, Minneapolis College of Art and Design recycled the sixth largest amount of its waste materials in 2019, at 66%, according to Recycle Mania.

18. San Francisco State University

San Francisco, California

Website

In 2020, San Francisco State University aims to become a zero-waste campus. It needs to undertake a significant increase in its efforts to achieve this. In 2019, Recycle Mania notes that the college has recycled 69% of its materials, the fifth most in the nation. However, the college’s city is definitely aiding the college on its path to zero waste. For example, San Francisco has a program that collects fats, oils and grease and converts it into biodiesel. The college currently gives this program 18,000 pounds of grease a year from its kitchens. San Francisco State University currently works on a three trash can system, one for recycling, one for compost and one for garbage.

17. Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire

Website

Dartmouth College’s recycling activities have been most successful in reducing food waste. Approximately 400 tons of food waste get recycled at the college every year. While its overall diversion of waste rate is only 50%, the college is planning to increase this significantly in the future. It has set a waste diversion rate of 80% by the year 2025. Currently, The College Sustainability Report Card gives Dartmouth College and A for recycling. Grist is also impressed with the college’s student participation in sustainability, including recycling.

16. Seattle University

Seattle, Washington

Website

The leadership at Seattle University reacted strongly to Seattle’s tightening of recycling requirements. Since this tightening, it has become harder for organizations in the city to recycle, due to recycling facilities not accepting recycling waste that has high levels of non recyclable material contamination. Therefore, in 2019, the college launched an initiative to drastically reduce the contamination levels of its recycling. By April, it was able to reduce recycling contamination down to just 10%. The College Sustainability Report Card gives Seattle University an A in recycling. Recycle Mania names it the 20th best recycling college.

15. College of the Atlantic

Bar Harbor, Maine

Website

College of the Atlantic looks to any means possible to recycle. Grist notes that its EcoDorm even collects rainwater so that it can be used in the college’s bathrooms. The College Sustainability Report Card also states that the college’s recycling efforts deserve an A grade. It has removed trays and bottled water from all dining locations, restricting the possibility of waste building up. Since these sources reported this, College of the Atlantic has only gone further in its recycling efforts. It now aims to recycle 90% of its discarded materials by the year 2025.

14. University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

Website

2016 was University of Louisville’s most successful year for diverting waste from a landfill. In that year, 79% of its waste was recycled. In 2017, this amount dropped just 1% to 78%. But in 2018, the college experienced a large drop to 53%. However, the college does explain that the higher recycling rates in 2016 and 2017 were due to demolition projects which resulted in significantly more waste to be recycled. Luckily, University of Louisville’s waste diversion rate is increasing again. In 2019, its waste diversion rate is 58%, according to Recycle Mania. The college also gets an A grade from The College Sustainability Report Card.

13. University of Washington

Seattle, Washington

Website

When giving University of Washington an A grade, The College Sustainability Report Card notes that it is incredibly impressive that the college recycles non traditional materials such as carpet, PVC and wood. Recycle Mania names the college as being the 15th best recycling college, with a 59% recycling rate. University of Washington’s recycling initiatives truly are cutting edge. For example, many of the college’s recycling stations have interactive screens that tell those that use them how much they have just recycled and how much money the college would save if everyone recycled their items.

12. University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas

Website

In the fourth quarter of 2018, University of Texas at San Antonio recycled 180 tons of cardboard, mixed paper, scrap metal and commingled items. In the first quarter of 2019, this figure was slightly smaller, at 120 tons. The recycling services at the college are incredibly easy for students to use. All recyclables are placed into a single trash can and sorted at a recycling facility. University of Texas at San Antonio recycled the fourth highest percentage of materials of any college in 2019, with Recycle Mania stating that 77% of its waste was recycled.

11. Kendall College of Art and Design (Ferris State University)

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Website

81% of Kendall College of Art and Design’s waste is recycled, according to Recycle Mania, making it the third-best recycling college in the country on that list. The college has implemented a number of practices to ensure that its recycling efforts are as comprehensive as can be. For instance, it has teamed up with the local business Organicycle to ensure that its composted materials are put to the best possible use. While Recycle Mania credits Kendall College of Art and Design as its own institution, it is now part of Ferris State University. Ferris State University has partnered with the Mecosta County Recycling Center to ensure that its used materials get properly recycled.

10. Wesleyan University

Middletown, Connecticut

Website

The recycling program at Wesleyan University is incredibly busy. It lists a wide range of actions that it is currently taking to waste less and recycle more. This includes replacing paper towel dispensers with energy-efficient hand dryers, encouraging students to bring less waste on to campus, increasing waste station locations and launching social marketing campaigns, among many more things. However, the college is already one of the top performing recycling colleges. The Sustainability Report Card notes that 80% of its food waste is composted and gives it an A grade. Recycle Mania also names Wesleyan University as being the 17th best recycling college.

9. Colorado State University

Fort Collins, Colorado

Website

Thanks to the Ram Recycle program, over 2 million pounds of material is recycled at Colorado State University every year. In 2016, the college’s recycling rate was 80%. Thanks to these strong figures, the college has placed near the top of Recycle Mania’s list for almost 15 years. In 2019, it ranks at 14th. Grist also considers Colorado State University to be one of the top colleges in America for food waste composting. Lastly, The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college an A grade and notes that the college’s dining facilities do not contain trays or bottled water.

8. Macalester College

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Website

The College Sustainability Report Card is impressed with Macalester College’s program of giving food waste to local pig farmers. Overall, the source gives the college an A for recycling. 65% of the college’s overall waste is recycled, meaning that it ranks at 10th on Recycle Mania’s list. However, in 2018, its rank was fourth. But overall, its rank is something to be proud of. After all, in 2013, its rank was 125th. Like several other colleges on this list, it has committed to achieving zero waste by 2020. That means that serious new initiatives should begin over the next year.

7. Youngstown State University

Youngstown, Ohio

Website

While The College Sustainability Report Card is critical of some of Youngstown State University’s sustainability practices, it gives the college an A for recycling, noting that all of its food waste is composted. Recycle Mania has similar data regarding the college’s recycling practices, noting that it is the ninth best college for waste recycling, at 66% waste diversion. However, the college aims to improve upon this figure over the next year. Its new goal is for 70% of waste to be recycled. Youngstown State University is also aiming to increase the efficiency in which it composts its food waste and boost campus awareness of recycling opportunities.

6. Aquinas College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Website

Grist notes that Aquinas College can be considered a trendsetter in sustainability, as it created the first undergraduate degree in sustainable business. Overall, it considers the college to be the 15th greenest college. The college’s sustainable business degree gives local, national and international perspectives on recycling, with study incorporating local events, conferences and field research in Costa Rica. Recycling definitely forms a significant part of the college’s commitment to sustainability, as Recycle Mania names it the college that recycles the eighth largest amount of its materials, at 65%. Like similarly leading colleges, Aquinas College has committed itself to work towards zero waste.

5. Berkshire Community College

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Website

From 2018 to 2019, Berkshire Community College was able to rise from third to second place on Recycle Mania’s list of top recycling colleges. Overall, it recycled 81% of its materials. However, for 2020, it has an even more ambitious goal than ever before. It aims to have zero waste across the entire college. This goal appears to be achievable, as the college’s recycling rate was just 42% in 2009, with that number improving every year. Berkshire Community College even has its own Green Team that consists of 12 faculty and staff members.

4. University of San Francisco

San Francisco, California

Website

Recycling is very much a part of University of San Francisco’s identity. It describes its recycling and compost trash cans as an iconic part of the campus. It also has desk-side recycling in every single office across the campus. The college is currently aiming to achieve a “zero waste mindset.” However, it has not yet put a deadline on when it expects to achieve zero waste. University of San Francisco’s ranking on Recycle Mania has improved in recent years. In 2016 it was 13th place. But in 2019, it is in seventh place, recycling 66% of its waste. The College Sustainability Report Card also gave the college an A grade for recycling in its most recent report.

3. Harvard University

Boston, Massachusetts

Website

Every methodology source recommends aspects of Harvard University’s recycling efforts. Grist and The College Sustainability Report Card are both impressed with how the college recycles its cooking oil into biodiesel. Grist ranks the college as the sixth greenest in America, and The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college an A. Clean River also praises the college’s recycling challenge, which rewards students who recycle a certain amount with study breaks. Bevi is amazed with the fact that the college donates 30,000 meals every year from its dining halls. Lastly, Recycle Mania names the college as being the 65th best college for recycling. One other impressive recycling program that Harvard University manages is a free furniture, supplies and equipment giveaway every Thursday. Anyone can come and claim materials that have been donated from Harvard Buildings.

2. Stanford University

Palo Alto, California

Website

Although Recycle Mania ranks Stanford University’s overall recycling efforts at 43rd place, the source states that the amount of recycled material per person at the college is much better, at 17th place. Also, Stanford University has no lack of innovation in its approach to recycling. For instance, Grist notes that the college’s Global Ecology Research Center has walls made from recycled wine casks and uses other recycled materials. The College Sustainability Report Card gives the college’s recycling an A grade. CleanRiver notes that the college’s athletics are keen to promote recycling initiatives. Lastly, Bevi notes that Stanford University aims to achieve zero waste by 2030 and rewards its community with cash for recycling consistently. In the last 20 years, the amount of waste that Stanford University sent to landfills has decreased from 14,000 tons to 8,190 tons.

1. Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles, California

Website

Recycle Mania states that in 2019, Loyola Marymount University diverted the most amount of waste from landfills of any college in America or Canada. 89% of its waste materials was recycled, giving it an 8% higher recycling rate than the next highest college. Overall, the college also managed to recycle 79 pounds per person in the last year. The only downside was that the college composted a comparatively low amount of its food compared to some colleges. The most recent College Sustainability Report Card also gives Loyola Marymount University an A for its recycling. But what really puts Loyola Marymount University ahead of other colleges in America is that it has its own recycling plant. This plant has “a whole team dedicated to ensuring the productivity and accuracy of waste reduction.”