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Waste Reduction

Waste Reduction is a key program of sustainability. Weighing your wants and needs for different objects should be carefully considered when making purchasing decisions. The lifecycle of a product is something that should be well understood from production to disposal. 

Most of us were taught about the 3R’s of sustainability when in primary school (reduce, reuse, recycle) but that has since expanded to five 5R’s of sustainability (refuse, reduce, reuse, rot and recycle). Our office has 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 you practice the 5R'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 you can refuse single-use plastics wherever you go.

  2. Reduce: Food Services provides Food and Drink Discounts to encourage you to reduce your waste. This includes a $0.40 discount for bringing your own mug to any food vendor location (save even more at Veritas) and an Eco-Container Program that allows you to reduce your environmental footprint.

  3. Reuse: Following a successful pilot in 2018, we now offer a Freestore 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 your waste. 


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 harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide because organic scraps are not 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 harmful 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 Recycling in Residence

Over the past several years we have been working to bring organics recycling to Residence buildings at Laurier. Here are the initiatives we have piloted so far:

  • Pre-2018: Organics bins were placed in various residences with the leadership of dons throughout several residences with many lessons learned

  • 2018-19: Tested out a composting pilot in MacDonald House (a double dorm-style residence) and Leupold Residence (an all-female double dorm-style residence)

  • 2019-2020: Shifted the organics pilot to include bins at Clara Conrad Hall and Bricker Residence (dormitory style and apartment style, respectively) through the leadership of custodial staff and residence staff

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, household/school supplies, 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, Diabetes Canada, and the new Laurier Freestore. At the end of exams, members of the Sustainability Office team and volunteers bag and sort donations, while the Grounds team puts out the bins and transports all donations to be sorted.

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. Over the next few years, we would like to expand this program to Brantford and off-campus student living. 


In early 2020, the Sustainability Office announced it would be launching a permanent Freestore on campus for students to access year-round! This store is located at 232 King St N (Special Constables building) in room KB02. Stay tuned for updates and hours in Summer 2020! 

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 - Fall 2021

We're so excited to be hosting another Zero Waste Week in Fall 2021! This year, things are going virtual and we're hoping you can help shift our culture towards a zero waste or waste reduction mindset. Check out what's happening below and for contest details.