University Waste Reduction Policy

Streamlining waste management processes on campus....

leadership icon

A University Waste Reduction Policy is a Leadership goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Develop a university-wide waste reduction policy, including a comprehensive, campus-wide materials management strategy.

Goal: Implement a Universal Waste Management and Non-Hazardous Waste Handling Policy at Cornell to establish strategies for achieving waste reduction, clarify responsibilities, and ensure university-wide compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

As a member of the Tompkins County community, Cornell University is committed to supporting the County’s solid waste and recycling diversion goals. Cornell strives to maintain its record of responsible environmental stewardship with regard to waste reduction and landfill diversion, and the University follows proper disposal practices for both non-hazardous waste and Universal wastes. However, given the complexity of Cornell waste streams, the variety of facilities, the decentralized structure of the university, and the breadth of staff, students, and vendors who generate and handle waste, the Waste Team is advocating for an overarching waste reduction policy for the university.

This policy would provide standardized reporting and handling practices, and resources for waste reduction. It would clarify responsibilities and strategies for achieving waste reduction and maintaining university-wide compliance with government laws and regulations. It would also streamline the collection of metrics to meet local, state, and peer reporting requirements. By improving existing practices and establishing a comprehensive materials management strategy, the policy would reduce the potential for inconsistencies and oversights – thereby reducing institutional liability.

The implementation of a campus-wide waste reduction policy will not incur additional costs for the university. In fact, the proposed policy could provide potential cost savings through streamlined waste management processes, increased efficiencies, increased awareness resulting in increased waste reduction and diversion, and reduced risks of non-compliance with applicable regulations.

Next Steps

  • Present an impact statement for the Universal Waste Management and Non-Hazardous Waste Handling policy to Cornell’s Executive Policy Review Group for approval.
  • Following approval, collaborate with stakeholders to draft the campus-wide policy.
  • Obtain approval for the policy from Cornell’s Executive Policy Review Group.
  • Implement the policy and educate the campus community to build stakeholder buy-in and ensure compliance.


Collaborate with stakeholders to draft the policy and build consensus for approval among the members of Cornell’s Executive Policy Review Group.