Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

Progress: Waste Minimization

Zero Waste Initiative
student putting paper in a recycling bin  
As a part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Aquinas College is working to achieve campus-wide zero municipal solid waste.
Zero waste is defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance as over a 90% diversion of waste, such that less than 10% of discards are landfilled/incinerated.
To see our most up-to-date zero waste progress, please visit the Zero Waste Initiative page here.


One Saint's Junk is Another Saint's Treasure
Implementation Status: The web site is available on the Moose
Lead by Chair Brad Vandenbroeck, the Student Sustainability Committee developed a proposal to facilitate the donation or selling of unwanted goods to other community members. Through the Sustainability Initiative web site, students, staff, and faculty have the ability to post or search goods for sale (or donation). This proposal may decrease the amount of goods disposed of on campus, and therefore lessen the College's trash disposal expenses. Furthermore, "One Saint's Junk is Another Saint's Treasure" results in the reuse of goods, rather than the disposal of materials or the use of valuable resources to make a new product. The Joint Sustainability Committee assigned this proposal a value rating of 5 and Interim Provost Chaffee approved the proposal on Nov. 27, 2007.
Paper Reduction
The consumption of paper has increased three times since 1960 and Americans generate 85 tons of paper waste. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates about 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges are put in landfills annually. ( Aquinas College is committed to minimizing the amount of copy paper purchased and used on campus with initiatives such as utilizing online communications, installing printers with double-sided printing defaults, and encouraging direct deposit. Whenever possible, the college purchases copy paper with the highest recycled content allowable by the fiscal year's budget. Here are some highlights of our efforts:

  • Multi-Function Copy Machines: The machines allow students and faculty to scan, print, and make copies more efficiently than the old machines. By scanning the documents and converting them into pdf format, they can be e-mailed as a digital copy. The multi-function machines are set to environmentally friendly defaults, including better margins, reduced toner usage, and automatic double-sided printing.
  • Online Time Sheets for Hourly Employees: In 2007, Aquinas College implemented an Online Time System that performs much better than the conventional punch-in time system. The system saves at least 700 sheets of paper per pay period, or approximately 18,200 sheets of paper a year. It also saves on associated printing costs, such as toner purchases and wear/tear on the printer. Hourly employees with paid time off can more accurately track the number of hours used and available, as well as request time off online. Finally, the new time system saves time- approximately 100 days of processing. (This figure was adjusted to account for additional supervisor time required to manage the online system.)

*Note: These links are only accessible from the Aquinas computer network and AQNet.