Aquinas College is pleased to announce first place in the Food Organics Category, small campus division, in the “Campus Race to Zero Waste” Competition. This means that, out of all the small campuses in the nation, ours composted the most food organics.    

AQ’s Sustainability Initiative

Green Crew helping with trash sorting

The Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College (C4S) was established in 2005 and coordinates programs that restore our environment, foster economic prosperity, and build vibrant and healthy communities.

One of their biggest goals is to make Aquinas the first zero-waste campus. Zero Waste is defined as having over 90% diversion of waste, according to the Zero Waste International Alliance. As of 2024, no college or university has ever been able to achieve this. 

That being the case, Aquinas uses a variety of waste minimization strategies and education methods to aid in its zero waste initiative. C4S provides educational resources, appoints a zero waste initiative team, distributes resources for zero waste at home, manages collection systems, organizes events and competitions and much more. 

Since 2015, C4S has regularly published a diversion rate for each building after carefully weighing its trash, recycling and compost. 

The “Campus Race to Zero Waste” Competition 

The “Campus Race to Zero Waste” competition, held annually by the National Wildlife Federation, aims to help universities reduce waste and lower their environmental footprint. As of 2024, 2.7 million students, faculty and staff have participated, reaching over 150 colleges and universities. 

According to Jessica Eimer Bowen, Executive Director of the Center for Sustainability at Aquinas College, “Aquinas College's success in this ‘Campus Race to Zero Waste’ is a testament to our robust and mature zero-waste initiative that began in 2012. Our students, staff and faculty are working together to replace the culture of waste with new habits that preserve resources for present and future generations.”

2024 Results and Statistics from The Competition 

  • Aquinas College is currently ranked 8th in the nation for sustainability and 2nd in the state. 
  • AQ recycled 8,599 pounds and composted 19,060, bringing the Cumulative Diversion Rate to 57.8%.
  • Regarding cumulative greenhouse gas reductions, the AQ campus saved 14 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

How to Help Out

The best way for students, staff, faculty and visitors to help us reach zero waste is to continue utilizing the correct collection systems – recycling, special collections and composting – to divert waste away from landfills.  

Additionally, individuals seeking greater involvement can explore AQ’s various volunteer opportunities.