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Waste and Recycling

In 2015, Vanderbilt University and Medical Center recycled over 8.6 million pounds of material!

Vanderbilt University is home to over 12,000 full and part-time students, employs 25,000 faculty and staff, and is the largest private employer in Middle Tennessee. With such a large community, Vanderbilt has the potential to generate large quantities of waste on a daily basis. In an effort to reduce the institution’s impact on the environment, Vanderbilt faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to find ways to reduce waste and recycle.

Reducing your consumption of resources and products, whether it is using a reusable coffee mug instead of a disposable one or printing double-sided copies to save paper, also reduces the amount of waste you produce.

Reusing items that you might normally dispose is also a means of reducing waste generated.  Look for ways to repurpose items or for places to donate unwanted products so that others can reuse them.  Products that cannot be reused should be recycled whenever possible.

Recycling involves taking used materials and making them into new products.  This process prevents the use of raw materials and reduces energy consumption and water and air pollution involved with the production and transportation of new items.  Recyclable materials include traditional items such as paper, aluminum, plastic, glass, and cardboard, as well as nontraditional items such as computers, electronics, toner cartridges, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs and much more!  Materials from campus that will be recycled are collected by recycling vendors and taken to a recycling center were they may be sorted, cleaned, and processed into new materials.

Recent accomplishments:

  • In 2015, 8.7 million pounds of paper, confidential paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum were recycled from VU and VUMC together.
  • In 2015, 62.6 tons of used electronics were recycled by VU.
  • In 2015, 6 tons of fluorescent light bulbs and 12 tons of batteries and ballasts were recycled.

In 2015, Vanderbilt recycled enough cardboard, plastic, scrap metal, aluminum, glass, bulbs, electronics, and ink/toner cartridges to conserve the equivalent of the following natural resources:

  • 77,500 mature trees saved;
  • 15,000 cubic yards of landfill airspace, equal to the space inside 135 semi-trailers;
  • 18 million kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough electricity to power 1,500 homes for a year;
  • 9,000 barrels of oil which is enough oil to produce 171,000 gallons of gasoline;
  • 14,000 metric tons (MTCO2E) of greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • 27 million gallons of water, which would fill 41 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Recycling has several benefits at Vanderbilt:

  • Fiscally, it costs the University more money to dispose of a ton of garbage than it does a typical ton of recycling. Also, we are paid for many of our recyclable goods. Rebates earned from recycling programs go back into paying for the recycling program.
  • Civically, recycling is a responsible way to keep the landfill in our area from filling up.
  • Environmentally, it is an easy way to help protect the finite resources of our planet.

Find more information below pertaining to recycling opportunities available in your area at Vanderbilt.

Not finding the answers to your questions? For questions about recycling on main campus and at special events, contact the Campus Recycling Manager.  For questions about recycling in all other locations, contact SEMO.  For questions about chemical waste collection, visit the VEHS website.