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Waste Reduction

Waste Reduction is a key program of sustainability. Wants and needs for different objects should be carefully considered when buying something. The lifecycle of a product is something that should be well understood from producing to disposing.

Most of us were taught about the three R’s of sustainability when in primary school (reduce, reuse, recycle) but that has since expanded to five 5 R’s of sustainability (refuse, reduce, reuse, rot and recycle). We have worked hard to implement waste reduction programs to allow you to have an easier time being sustainable on campus. Here is a quick list of programs we have implemented to help students use the five R’s:

  1. Refuse: We actively encourage students who are able to use reusable items whenever able and possible. The Laurier Bookstore offers stainless steel straw sets, travel mugs, and reusable bags so that the next time you are out and about you can refuse single-use plastics wherever you go.
  2. Reduce: We have worked hard with Food Services to provide you with great Food and Drink Discounts to encourage you to be more sustainable. This includes a $0.40 discount for bringing your own mug to any food vendor location (save even more at Veritas! (link to Veritas)) and an awesome Eco-Container Program that allows you to reduce your environmental footprint.
  3. Reuse: Following a successful pilot in 2018, we now offer you a Freestore all year round, full of gently used items donated by the Laurier community! This helps you reuse items rather than creating new waste, and it’s free!
  4. Rot & 5. Recycle: We understand that not everything can be refused, reduced or reused so we have worked with Waste Management to provide you with organics and commingled recycling waste streams to allow you to properly dispose of the little waste that you do produce.


Did you know that when you send organic waste to the landfill it produces greenhouse gases, particularly methane, as it decomposes? Methane is 20 to 30 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. This is as a result of the decomposing organic scraps not being able to get enough oxygen in compacted landfills. 

If you dispose of that same organic waste into the organic stream, decomposition generates carbon dioxide instead due to special treatment that allows it to decompose aerobically (decompose with oxygen). While harmful, carbon dioxide is significantly less damaging than methane and has the potential to then be absorbed by different plants and/or trees as a necessary nutrient. The compost can then also be used to provide nutrient-rich food for gardens and crops.

We offer organic waste streams in every building on campus and actively encourage you to consider where you are disposing of your organic waste before you throw it away!

Fun Fact: In 2014, there were over 162 composting facilities in Canada

Organics in Residence

Over the past several years we have been working to bring organics to Residence buildings at Laurier. As a result of a successful composting pilot in the 2018-2019 academic year in MacDonald House (a double dorm-style residence) and Leupold Residence (an all-female double dorm-style residence) we have worked with Residence and Facilities to provide organic infrastructure (i.e. bins) to several residences (Clara Conrad Hall and Bricker Residence) for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Move Out

The Move Out Program at Wilfrid Laurier University has operated for over 5 years and has successfully diverted over 25 tons of waste from landfill (which is the equivalent of four elephants in weight)!

During Winter Term exams, bins are placed in residence to collect four streams: e-waste, textiles, textbooks, and non-perishable food. These line up with the items that can be donated and recycled through our partnerships with the Waterloo Region Food Bank, Textbooks for Change, Tech Wreakers and Diabetes Canada. At the end of exams, members of the Sustainability Office team and volunteers go to each residence and bag and move the bins and items to the curb. The Grounds team then pick them up and move them to a warehouse. Once at the warehouse, the group works for a few days to sort and bag/box everything for the partners to then come to pick up.

We are proud of the success of the residence Move Out Program in the past few years and the amount of waste that we have diverted from landfill. With this success, the initiative was expanded last summer to include an August collection and a week-long Freestore Program for students as they return to campus.

Recycling Program

We get it, recycling can be really difficult to understand. Rules vary from region to region and with China taking less contaminated recycling now, knowing how to properly recycle and what can and cannot be recycled it may feel like an uphill battle.

At Laurier, we offer commingled recycling, which means all recyclable materials are mixed together in the same bin, collected and then sorted at a separate location. This makes it significantly easier to dispose of your recyclable materials while still helping to save the environment. However, even with commingled recycling, there is still important things to consider and follow to prevent contamination when purchasing or disposing of items.

Zero Waste Week 2020 

This year for our second annual Zero Waste Week, the Sustainability Office is running a Zero Waste Challenge! Grab a mason jar and track how much waste you produce from March 9th to March 13th. Check out the details below: 

Guidelines for Students:

  1. Sign up for the Zero Waste Challenge
  2. Pick up a mason jar from the Sustainability Office at the Concourse on Monday, March 9th or use your own 500mL mason jar.
  3. During Zero Waste Week from March 9th to March 13th, try to keep your jar as empty as possible. Only put your garbage in the mason jar – keep composting and recycling as you usually do. You can do it at home, school or both!
  4. Use the hashtag #ZeroWasteLaurier on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to share your progress
  5. Fill out the follow-up survey by March 20th, 2020 to be entered into our prize draw (separate prizes for staff and faculty)

By completing the follow-up survey, you will be entered into a prize draw to win one of 14 prizes! 

  • 2 x $75 to Zero Waste Bulk;
  • 4 x $50 to Zero Waste Bulk;
  • 4 x $25 to Full Circle Foods; and
  • 5 x $20 to Copper Branch