Waste Reduction

waste montage

At Princeton, our students, faculty, and staff take many measures to reduce the campus waste stream.

Since 2006, the Office of Sustainability has worked collaboratively with students and various departments to reduce the campus waste stream. While decreasing the amount of trash the University produces, the campus has simultaneously increased the percentage of recycling across all categories: plastics, paper, “household” items, demolition and construction debris, food scraps, and more. Opportunities for student leadership and research include investigating solutions related to behavioral and campus cultural norms, consistent deployment of recycling support across all campus activities including events, comprehensive capture of donatable materials at move-out, and comprehensive waste minimization and recycling solutions for Reunions.


Reduce overall campus waste by 40 percent between 2006 and 2020.


  • cleaning

    The total volume of cleaning chemicals purchased has decreased by 40 percent since 2010. However, this past year, the volume decreased by 12 percent.

  • STARS Silver Award

    The AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) allows metric-driven progress assessment across operations and academics for North American higher education and has recognized Princeton at the Silver leadership level

  • printer

    The University purchased about the same amount of paper per capita in 2016 as last year, and 143 fewer tons than 2008. Since 2009, when a student print quota was instituted, sheets printed in computer clusters and public libraries have declined by 35 percent.

  • More than 250 filtered Drink Local bottle filling stations have been installed since 2010, celebrating access to healthy (and free) local water.

  • Since 2006, nearly 8,475 campus researchers have been trained by Environmental Health and Safety staff to prevent laboratory pollution, significantly reducing the amount of chemical waste generated. 

  • trash dumpsters, recycling dumpsters

    Campus waste decreased 34 percent per capita since 2006. 

  • The University continues to track towards its commitment to recycle 95 percent of construction and demolition debris for new and renovated buildings, including construction of the Arts and Transit Project, and 20 Washington Road.

Total Waste Including Recycling Per Capita

waste graphic
waste graphic

What’s Next

  • Improve mixed recycling program across campus through an educational campaign and new campus labeling system to increase recycling rates.

  • Increase options for reuse through the University’s Resource Recovery Program.

  • Determine long-term objectives for overall waste reduction on campus.