Trash Buddy Program
The trash buddy program operates in all office spaces across Tufts' four campuses. A trash buddy is a miniature trash can that attaches to the blue desk-side recycling bin in your individual office or cubicle. The trash buddy replaces your traditional desk-side trash can, and its size represents the typical proportion of office waste that is truly trash. The trash buddy’s small volume and attachment to the desk-side recycling bin encourages recycling.
How does it work?
- All waste produced at your desk that is not recyclable should be disposed of in the trash buddy.
- You are responsible for emptying the trash buddy into the nearest central waste station when it fills up or when convenient.
- Mixed recyclables can be placed in the blue desk-side recycling bin that the trash buddy is attached to.
- Custodians will empty the central waste stations every day and will empty your individual desk-side recycling bin weekly when your office or cubicle is cleaned.
- For information about how to sort between trash and recycling, visit recyclesmartma.org and their smart recycling guide.
- If you have questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Trash Buddies?
- Help Tufts reach its goal of reducing waste by 3% each year, as set by the Campus Sustainability Council (pdf)
- Pursue more cost, time, and labor efficient waste collection methods and deployment of custodians
- Proven office waste management program for faculty and staff: comparable programs at other universities and organizations increased recycling rates by up to 55%
- Shown to increase Tufts’ recycling rate (amount recycled/total waste generated)
- Increase recycling knowledge and engagement among employees
- Give all employees an opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable Tufts
- If President Monaco has time, so do you...
Frequently Asked Questions
Trash Buddy programs have been successfully implemented at many colleges and universities both in the U.S. and abroad, as well as at other organizations in the public and private sectors. These programs have been shown to significantly increase recycling rates and decrease trash production. Additionally, they often result in cost savings, most frequently due to the elimination of plastic trash can liners and re-direction of custodial labor. As a University committed to becoming more environmentally sustainable, the Trash Buddy program is a proven, common-sense initiative for Tufts.
Yes. Programs similar or identical to our Trash Buddy program have been implemented by many organizations, academic and otherwise, with positive outcomes in waste reduction, recycling rates, and waste management costs. A few examples are listed below:
- Dartmouth College, which increased its recycling rate by 33% and reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills by 200 tons within one year.
- Sonoma State University, which increased its recycling rate by 55% within one year.
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which increased its recycling rate by 20% and saved $13,000 annually on trash bag liners.
- After a pilot program increased recycling rates by 22%, University of Maryland implemented a mini-bin program in all academic and administrative buildings.
- By having employees empty their own mini garbage cans into central waste receptacles, the University of Minnesota Duluth decreased the amount of recyclables in its trash by 14% and reduced the total amount of waste sent to the landfill by almost 20%.
- A study of 34 offices across the United States found that mini-bin programs are the most effective office waste arrangement for increasing recycling and reducing contamination. Offices with mini-bins reduced the amount of recyclables in the trash by 16%, increased the amount of recyclables collected by 20%, and virtually eliminated office paper from the waste stream.
Tufts measures and tracks its waste. In addition to the existing waste audit data available for several Tufts buildings, we are performing before-and-after waste monitoring on selected buildings on all three campuses. Using this information we will be able to track recycling rates and total waste trends over time.
The great majority of office waste is actually recyclable (e.g. white paper), so when it is disposed of properly you will find that the trash buddy will typically suffice for your non-recyclable waste items. Depending on the nature of your office’s work and your personal waste habits, you might not need to empty your trash buddy more than once or twice a week.
The most common items are: napkins, tissues, paper towels, food waste, non-rigid plastic (e.g., plastic bags, plastic wraps), Styrofoam, and foil wrappers (e.g., candy and granola bar wrappers, chip and cookie bags). Please put any messy food waste directly into a central trash bin.
Tufts is committed to being an environmentally sustainable institution that continually seeks to adopt effective, innovative measures on its path toward zero waste. Everyone in the Tufts community has a stake and a role to play in helping Tufts achieve its waste reduction goal, and this is one of the ways that you can be a great help in achieving it.
The bin can be emptied at one of the many times during the day that you leave your desk. As soon as you are habituated to your trash buddy you will probably not notice any inconvenience or disruption of productivity. Join President Monaco and senior administrators in emptying your trash buddy!
If you wish to avoid soiling your trash buddy with messy food waste, you can dispose of your items directly in the central trash bin, which is emptied daily, or in a compost bin, if your office has one available. You can rinse your trash buddy when needed much like you do your dishes.
A primary goal of this program is to reduce Tufts’ output of non-recyclable waste, and the use of plastic liners increases our production of trash. Trash buddies eliminate the need for thousands of liners, saving us money and reducing our negative impact on the environment; for instance, on the Grafton campus alone the Trash Buddy program saves Tufts 2,340 liners per month.
How can I get involved in other ways to make my office space and operations more environmentally friendly?
There are many ways for staff and faculty to get involved in Tufts’ sustainability efforts. These include joining the Eco-Ambassador program, an education and action program for employees; getting your office Green Office certified; starting or joining a green team; or starting a compost program in your office.