ReUse Programs

Reducing waste through re-use...

leadership icon

Re-use Programs is a Leadership goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Expand re-use programs both for internal reallocation of university owned materials and for repurposing of surplus materials no longer needed on the campus, either by offering these items for sale or by donating them to non-profit organizations.

Goal: Strengthen existing practices and develop new programs to reduce the campus waste stream through re-use.

Cornell University has a longstanding tradition of re-use of materials. Campus re-use programs support the local community through a variety of channels, including, but not limited to:

  • Direct donations to non-profit organizations and local schools
  • Funds raised for local non-profit organizations through the annual
  • Dump and Run event Computers given to communities that would not otherwise have access to them
  • Support of Tompkins County Solid Waste reduction goals, and
  • Promotion of culture change through reduced use of disposable materials and reduced waste.

Formal existing programs in support of re-use on Cornell’s Ithaca campus include the following:

  • The Cornell Assets Transfer System (CATS) – run by the Division of Financial Affairs – Cost and Capital Assets Department. This system is intended for capital assets, and is designed to connect those with available campus assets to those who can put these assets to further use.
  • System for Trade & Auction of Cornell Surplus (STACS) - managed by Cornell’s R5 Operations Department. STACS has TWO components: 1) an online public auction system for surplus materials no longer needed on the campus, and 2) an online system for internal reallocation of university owned materials. The STACS Re–use program saved more than $40,000 in its first seven months of operation, mainly by repurposing office furniture which is offered for free to worksites on campus. After one month, unclaimed items are auctioned off to the community for personal use, for $1, the value of the scrap metal, or for a nominal fee. STACS is designed specifically for distribution of non-capital materials and does not change or replace any function of the Capital Assets Transfer System (CATS). Visit for more information about STACS & other Re–Use programs at Cornell.
  • Chemical Re-use Program – managed by the Environmental Health and Safety Department. Cornell University maintains a surplus chemical recycling program available for Cornell researchers. By using (and helping to promote) the surplus chemical recycling program, researchers can save money on chemical purchases and help to minimize chemical waste. The chemicals available through the surplus chemical recycling program are free of charge and are stored in containers that are either unopened or in very good condition.
  • Cornell Computer Re-use Association (CCRA) – managed by Cornell students. The CCRA works to donate computers and other technology to humanitarian organizations in the local community and to community centers, orphanages, schools, and other organizations around the world. The computers are used to create educational opportunities that the recipients would not otherwise have without access to the technology. Whenever possible, the CCRA provides technical assistance to the communities that are receiving donations so that the computers’ use and longevity can be maximized. The Association has donated to many international locations, including South Africa, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, and Jamaica. CCRA promotes the University’s sustainability mission by reducing the amount of technology- related waste that Cornell creates.
  • Dump & Run – managed by Student and Academic Services. Dump & Run is Cornell’s annual campus-wide waste-reduction and recycling program. Students and staff volunteers collect items students might otherwise throw away when they leave campus in May, sort and organize the collected items over the summer, and resell them at a large community sale when students return in August. Admission is free, and the sale is open to the public. Proceeds from each Dump & Run sale are donated to local nonprofit organizations. The 2013 Dump & Run sale featured approximately 30 tons of recycled furniture, clothing, jewelry, lamps, kitchenware, and electronics, and the event raised almost $55,000 to benefit local charities. Since the program began in 2003, Cornell has contributed nearly $250,000 to Ithaca-area charities and donated many tons of reusable goods to local human service agencies. For more information visit:
  • Sedgwick Business Interiors Asset Inventory Management (AIM) Program – available for use by Cornell departments through a contract with Procurement Services. The AIM Program inventories all furniture for a University department or unit’s project and provides a customized Internet-based asset inventory (AIM) list of all items stored. AIM allows users to view all products online for future moves and reconfigures. AIM provides reliable and consistent information to promote better utilization of assets and reduced customer storage costs.
  • Donations – Cornell’s Community and Government Relations Department collaborates with departments and units campus–wide to oversee donations of materials to non-profit organizations and government entities.

Next Steps

  • Identify all re-use programs on the Cornell Ithaca Campus.
  • Raise awareness on campus about existing re-use opportunities.
  • Identify additional opportunities for re-use on campus (for example, capture of additional scrap wood for the making of mulch).
  • Raise comfort levels within the Cornell community associated with utilizing re-used materials (examples range from utilizing Chemical Re-use Program for research materials to comfort with tap water in reusable water bottles).
  • Grow markets and outlets for re-used materials off the Cornell campus (examples include creating formal relationships with local re-use merchants, to creating outlets in local schools, to exploring the potential to create outlets in larger metropolitan areas).
  • Implement a campus-wide policy to standardize donation and sale of re-use materials.
  • Track the volume of re-use on campus.


Re-use programs are anticipated to have a financial cost saving through both reduced landfill costs and averted purchasing costs. Both a cost-benefit analysis and GHG impact study should be conducted to identify where cost and GHG savings are being realized, and where opportunities for improvement are available.