Sustainability Initiative  

Zero-Waste Initiative

Collection Systems Waste Competitions Zero Waste Events
Education Rethinking Waste Zero Waste Team Members

As a part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Aquinas College is working to achieve campus-wide zero municipal solid waste by 2014. 


Our Zero Waste Team assists in educational programs concerning Aquinas’ waste streams.  With collaboration of faculty, staff, and students, Aquinas will incrementally reduce our waste by 25% each semester, by continuing campus composting and recycling efforts as well as the added effort of special collection systems. With everyone working together, we can reach this aggressive goal and be a zero waste campus by 2014!

Progress Update

The college has been aggressively working on the zero waste initiative for two years now, and we only have one year left to reach our 90% waste diversion goal (2014). Last fall, we removed 2 dumpsters, saving the college $1,000 per month. We are pleased to announce that 2 additional trash dumpsters were removed from St. Joes and Donnelly in Summer 2013. By removing these two dumpsters, the college saves an additional $493 per month.

We’re right on track with our progress, but we couldn’t have made it here without the help and support of students, staff, faculty, and the administration. We would especially like to thank our zero waste gurus, the housekeeping department, as well as all faculty, staff, and students. Keep up the great work AQ! Stay tuned for updates on these improvements.

Collection Systems
Click on the links below to learn more out about recycling, special collectins, and composting programs!
Recycling: Aquinas’ recycling program is a single stream system, meaning all paper, plastic, glass, and tin can be disposed of in the same bin. Blue recycling bins can be found in every building on campus. For more information regarding how to recycle at Aquinas.
Special Collections: Special collections to recycle other "non-traditional" materials are also in place. These collections are located in certain stations around campus and save many items from getting into the landfill by way of recycling, repurposing, or upcycling.
Composting: Aquinas College has partnered with Michigan-based, Spurt Industries to compost the campus' organic waste. Spurt Industries has built a business around recycling organic waste materials, helping to reduce the amount of waste that enters landfills while creating nutrient-rich soil products. The top soil and mulch products are sold for use in lawns, gardening, flower beds, and other applications. Like our recycling program, green composting bins can be found in every building on campus. Special collections are also in place for targeted compostable materials. For more information regarding how to compost at Aquinas.
Take the Pledge
Demonstrate your commitment to the Zero Waste Initiative at Aquinas by pledging to seriously address waste in your office. Sign the Zero Waste Pledge today! >Download the PDF
Click here to view a list of the offices who have already committed to Zero Waste.
Waste Competitions
Future Competitions
Past Competitions
Battle of the Houses

Between April 17 to April 22, 2013, the AQ LLC houses had a waste competition. All of the trash, recycling, and composting generated at these houses was collected, sorted, and weighed. The houses competed for two categories:


The "Zero Waste Champ" category recognizes the house that recycled and composted (or diverted) the largest percentage of their waste stream. The diversion rates for each house is as follows: Knape Hall 87.5%; K House 83.0% ; Woodcock 56.3% ; Fulton House 44.3% ; Meijer Hall 43.4% ; Gate House 14.4% ; Willowbrook 2.1%


The "Best Trashers" category identifies which house has the least amount of recycling and composting in their trash, that could have been diverted from the landfill. For this category, the lower percentage, the better! For example, Knape Hall could have recycled or composted 11.0% of the items they threw in their trash. Fulton House could have recycling/composted almost 80% of the items in their trash. Here are the full results for that category: Knape Hall 11.0% ; K House 53.0% ; Woodcock 64.2% ; Meijer Hall 70.5% ; Willowbrook 70.6% ; Gate House 74.5% ; Fulton House 79.9%


Please join us in congratulating Knape Hall, the winner of the Battle of the Houses waste competition! Knape won first place in BOTH categories, and each resident won a $10 gift certificate to Spoonlickers. K House was the runner up in both categories. Each resident of K House received a gift certificate from Spoonlickers, in the amount of $5 each. Thanks for your support and congrats to Knape Hall!

The Biggest Loser: Waste-Loss Challenge
Throughout the entire month of February (2013), "The Biggest Loser: Waste-Loss Challenge" was held in St. Joe. Each floor competed to recycle and compost the most waste (computed in pounds per person). Weekly "weigh-ins" were held during the St. Joe Staff Meetings. Third floor was the big winner, recycling and composting a total of 140.83 lbs – or 2.82 lbs. per person.
Mt. Trashmore (October 10, 2013)

This year The Sustainability LLC hosted the event “Mt. Trashmore” outside of Wege. This was an event to provide education and show students, staff, and faculty that most of what is in our trash can be further diverted to recycling, composting, and special collections. The result was that many people committed to the Zero Waste Pledge and learned how they can change their waste habits.

Media Coverage of the event:


Fox (Fox17)


If your department or office is interested in a personalized zero waste training, please contact Jessica Eimer or Elizabeth Sensing in the Center for Sustainability.
Test your knowledge about recycling and composting at Aquinas by downloading our quiz. >Download the PDF
Rethinking Waste
Compostable Products with CDS: In response to AQ’s zero waste goal of 2014, Creative Dining Services (CDS) has phased out all disposable coffee cups to compostable cups (Insulair brand cups). CDS also made changes to the “to go” containers used on campus.  We now use Pactive Earthchoice to go containers which can also be composted. To check out other sustainability initiatives of Campus Dining, please visit their website.
One Saint’s Junk is Another Saint’s Treasure: An online forum where members of the Aquinas Community can connect with others on campus to find items for donation and advertise unwanted goods. On the Moose, select "Sustainability Initiative" in the right hand navigation section to access "One Saint's Junk."