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Cornell University

Ithaca Campus Waste Metrics


How much is a ton?

A ton is 2,000 pounds (about the weight of a Volkswagen Beetle).

How much landfill waste does Cornell generate? In the calendar year 2014 Cornell sent 3342.57 tons of waste from its Ithaca campus to the Ontario County landfill.

How much compost does Cornell generate? In 2014’s calendar year Cornell composted 794.1 tons of waste from dining facilities at the Ithaca campus, and 5834.7 tons of plant material and animal waste from bedding, etc. The waste is composted on the Cornell campus through the Farm Services Department.

How much of Cornell’s waste is diverted from the landfill? In calendar year 2014 Cornell’s Ithaca campus diverted 76% of its waste from the landfill through recycling and composting efforts.

How much does Cornell recycle? Where does the material go? In calendar year 2014 Cornell recycled the following at its Ithaca campus:

  • SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING (MIXED PAPER & CARDBOARD, GLASS/TIN/PLASTICS, and SHREDDED PAPER): 1496.8 TONS - Paper and cardboard is recycled through Tompkins County’s recycling facility. Note: While the weights are combined here please note shredded paper and large rigid plastics are collected separate from the desk side recycle bins in most office and residence spaces.
  • BATTERIES: 7.4 TONS - Alkaline batteries are recycled through NLR, Inc. For details on NLR, Inc. visit Nicad and Lithium batteries are recycled through Call2Recycle’s battery recycling program.
  • SCRAP METAL: 279.3 TONS - Scrap metal is shipped, depending on material type, to various vendors to be recycled and used for a myriad of purposes.
  • TIRES: 7.4 TONS - Tires collected through the R5 Operation are removed from campus by our solid waste vendor, Casella. Casella distributes the tires to companies who use the material for the production of athletic turf, and for production of bedding mulch.
  • USED OIL: 13.4 TONS - Used oil (including motor oil, and oil from pumps and compressors) collected by R5 Operations is sent to RecOil in York, PA. The oil is filtered and reused as heating oil for industrial and commercial facilities.
  • USED COOKING OIL: 31.8 TONS - Used cooking oil is collected and recycled with National Oil Recycling in North Rose, NY.
  • USED GLYCOL: 2.3 TONS - Used glycol is collected and recycled with Solvents and Petroleum in Syracuse, NY.
  • LIGHT BULBS: 13.9 TONS - Florescent, HID, and compact florescent light bulbs are collected in the R5 Operations facility and sent to NLR, Inc. where the glass and aluminum are cleaned and recycled, and the gasses and powders are appropriately disposed of.
  • PCB BALLASTS: 0 TONS - PCB Ballasts are light fixtures containing PCB’s are recycled through NLR, Inc.
  • ELECTRONIC SCRAP: 139.0 TONS - Electronic scrap collected by R5 Operations is sent to Sunnking Inc. where the items are dismantled and recycled in Brockport, NY. All hard drives from Cornell University are 100% destroyed. Read more at CIT's IT Security Office, Best Practices for Media Destruction webpage.
  • WOOD: 8.4 TONS - Used wood pallets are collected and reused through Pallet Express in Syracuse, NY.
  • REFRIGERATED UNITS: 457 - CFC’s (refrigerant) from the units is extracted and processed for reuse. The refrigerator units are then recycled with scrap metal.
  • MATTRESSES: 12.7 TONS - Mattresses are recycled with University Sleep Products.
  • YARD WASTE: 1000 TONS - Yard waste material is collected by Cornell's Grounds and Cornell's Plantations departments. This material is processed by the Cornell Grounds and Cornell Farm Services departments to make mulch used on the Cornell campus.
  • MERCURY – Items containing mercury (e.g. thermostats and thermometers) are recycled through NLR, Inc.
  • PRINTER CARTRIDGES - All printer cartridges collected by R5 Operations are recycled along with electronics.
  • PLASTIC BAGS - This is a new waste stream for Cornell. In 2014 we recycled 5.1 tons.
  • REUSE: 57.0 TONS - Surplus furniture and other items were repurposed on and off the Cornell campus in 2013. Learn more about ReUSE at Cornell.