Beyond Waste Campaign


Beyond Waste

Beyond Waste is a 2-month institutional waste reduction campaign that empowers every member of the Cornell campus community to rethink our relationship to products we use everyday.  Beyond Waste invites us to move beyond recycling and waste management into a creative life-cycle approach to how we purchase, use, reuse, and dispose of goods and materials across campus systems.

The campaign is part of the national Campus Race to Zero Waste competition and includes events, waste-reduction acitivites for individuals & teams, and institutional waste tracking for the national competition. Check out Cornell University's 2023 Results & 2022 Results.


Participate in Beyond Waste 2024 

Campaign begins February 12th, 2024
With events and opportunities through March 31st, 2024

Open to all students, faculty, staff, and Cornell community members 

Campaign Goals

From electronic waste to fast fashion, we need to think beyond worn-out, one-size-fits-all solutions to the waste that results from our society's linear use of materials. Together, we need to fundamentally reimagine the ways we produce, distribute, and consume goods in order to move beyond a "waste disposal" mindset - where goods are simply disposed of at the end of their life - and into a "beyond waste" mindset. Let's work together to envision what it would mean to radically extend the life, use, and reusability of all the materials and goods we touch. 

  • Reduce overall waste and improve waste sorting on campus. 
    As we move beyond waste, all Cornell students & employees are asked to drive down waste, and maximize recycling, composting, and reuse. 

  • Increase campus knowledge & engagement on circular economy issues. 
    How can you learn, act, and educate others? Attend events, collaborate with your peers, and consider hosting opportunities for others to join in.


Events & Opportunities

Participate in key events during the campaign to sharpen your skills and knowledge, and collaborate with others to imagine our collective path to a beyond-waste campus. 

Click here to download the Beyond Waste Campaign logo to use for your events | Image: Campus Sustainability Office

Host or Tag Your Beyond Waste Event 

Any individual, team, or organization can host a Beyond Waste event that connects sustainability, waste, and life-cycle issues to our campus impact. 

Beyond Waste efforts are not limited to “green groups.” No matter your major, discipline, or job title, your creativity and efforts are crucial to helping us all imagine a campus that reduces waste, and eventually moves beyond waste.  Here's how to include your event in the campaign:

  1. Create an event in the Cornell events calendar. You must use a Cornell NetID. Events must follow all current University guidelines and safety procedures.

  2. Enter your event details, partners, and contact information.

  3. Tag “Sustainability” under Departments

  4. Tag Sustainability as a University Focus Area 

  5. Use #beyondwaste” as an event Hashtag

Events should be hosted during the campaign timeframe but opportunities a few days before or after these dates may also be included. Contact our event organizers for support. Contact information is listed at the bottom of this webpage. 

Featured Event

Electronic Waste Recycling
Every Wednesday during March, 8:00am to 3:00pm
3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27

Recycle your home and office electronic waste sustainably (and for free) by bringing items to Cornell's R5 Recycle Center (251 Solidago Rd) between 8:00am to 3:00pm on Wednesdays throughout March.


Upcoming Events

Coming soon!


Get Involved

What are the biggest opportunities on campus this year to reduce your overall waste impact?  Commit to taking action and sharing your action with friends, colleagues, and connections to help us create a shared culture of sustainable behavior.

Implementing sustainable practices at Cornell's thousands of annual events can help reduce the impacts of food, waste, transportation, and more. If your organization is planning an upcoming event, you can take simple steps to make it more sustainable.

Check out our Sustainable Events Certification to learn how you can:

Cornell Dining offers Reusable Takeout Containers to enable students and employees to reduce single-use disposable containers while taking food to go. Containers are available for purchase ($5) in most Cornell dining rooms.

Getting started

  • Pick up your first reusable container at one of Cornell's Dining Rooms by simply asking the door-checker for one. You can buy into the program for a one-time fee of $5.00 using Big Red Bucks, Cornell Card, or a major credit card. (Note: Containers are not available and cannot be used at Risley & 104West!) 
  • Once you have a container, you are part of the program! Simply scan the QR code to register your container in the Fill it Forward app, use your container to take out food, then return it to any participating dining room whenever it's convenient for you. Upon return, you will scan the QR code on the container you're dropping off, and you can decide whether to exchange it for a freshly sanitized container or "check it in" so you can check out another one in the future. Then the cycle of reuse continues!
  • Remember to wipe food residue out of your container once you're done with your meal. We recommend returning the container to one of Cornell's dining rooms within a day, so the industrial dishwashers can clean and sanitize containers and get them back into circulation.

Cornell's Service Centers process high volumes of packages. If you live on campus, we encourage you to rethink how you are shopping for and shipping items. Simple changes can make a big impact, and help reduce packaging waste, carbon emissions, and headaches, like long wait times when picking up packages.

Ship smarter & reduce your package deliveries

  • Check if essential items are available locally. Many stores and pharmacies offer same-day delivery services, in-store and curbside pickups, or are conveniently located on TCAT bus routes. 
  • Choose to group shipments together to reduce the number of packages you receive. You can often consolidate package shipments with one click and still receive them within the same week. 
  • Properly dispose of your boxes and packaging materials (or reuse them). Cardboard boxes should always be flattened and recycled on campus, ideally within your residential community's loading dock, trash room, or recycling dumpster. See Cornell's Recycling Rules guide for what materials go into the landfill, recycling, and compost in Tompkins County.
  • Of course, you can always rethink some of your purchases from the beginning. Use what you already have, repair and share items, get thrifty in Ithaca, or swap items with other Cornell students.

Mini-bins have rolled out in offices across Cornell to help reduce overall waste and increase recycling rates on campus. In the new waste initiative, employees manage their own recycling and mini-landfill bins, emptying them into central kitchen or shared office waste stations. Consistent with national studies, Cornell's pilot programs demonstrated an overall waste reduction of 39% with significant improvements to waste sorting. 

Maximize the use of your mini-bin

  • Attach your mini-bin on the inside or outside of your recycling bin
  • Practice recycling. Apart from personal meals, most office waste is recyclable. Take a few minutes to relearn what can be recycled at Cornell, and fill up your recycling bin instead of your trash can.
  • Check out the wide-ranging benefits of mini bins, including positive impacts on building care, reduced use of plastic bin liners, and mindful waste disposal
Resources to connect with sustainable waste at Cornell
Cornell Sustainable Waste Map

Looking for more resources?  Find out where to recycle e-waste, drop off items for reuse, and more on the campus map.

View Full Waste Map 


Campus Waste Tracking

Cornell University competes in the annual Campus Race to Zero Waste competition every February & March against colleges & universities across North America. Check out our results on the CR2ZW scoreboard and see how our overall waste reduction & sorting efforts have changed over time.


Contact Us

The Campus Sustainability Office coordinates the annual Beyond Waste campaign with support and key partnership provided by campus organizations. For inquiries related to this year's campaign, contact sustainability@cornell.edu.