Harvard generates as much trash as a small city, with a wide spectrum of refuse from residences, dining facilities, offices, clinics, and research laboratories. How does the nation’s oldest and wealthiest university recycle and reduce waste?
Trash Talk Public Lecture by Rob Gogan
Manager of Harvard Recycling and Waste Services
Harvard has recycled, reused, and composted since 1636, but these days the university procures over 16,000 tons of products from around the globe to support campus operations every year. The situation has created both new urgency and opportunity for wise materials management.
This illustrated talk will explore Harvard’s recycling and compost collection systems; collegial sharing of furniture, clothing, supplies and equipment; partnerships with local and international charities for reusing surplus goods; vendors' retrieval of used commodities for recycling; composting for use on campus soils and beyond; and collaborations with special needs workers to refurbish and recycle electronics.
Recorded January 26, 2011
Good evening. Thank you for coming. Welcome to the Peabody's first lecture in its continuing series on Trash Talk. I'm Pamela Gerardi, Director of External Relations here at the Peabody. Over the past five lectures, we've looked at the history and the complexity or in some of the complexity of waste, but tonight we're going to bring the topic home, in stuff by the yard campus materials management. Our speaker tonight is Robert Gogan, Jr, recycling and waste manager here at Harvard University. Rob is not only the manager, but he's really the creator of the recycling program here at Harvard. In 1990. After teaching English for 10 years, Rob was at Harvard pursuing a degree in the Education School. noticing the amount of waste he, in his own words, made a pesto himself to none other than president Bach and received a summer job to demonstrate why a full time recycling job made sense at Harvard. He did. And he got the job. And the School of Education's loss was Harvard's gain. Today, Harvard reuses recycles or compound compost 55% of its waste, as opposed to 5% at in 1990. At that time. It also recycles were uses or compost 1000s, or hundreds of 1000s of dollars worth and something over 300 tons of reusable Harvard excess. It is placed into the hands of more than 200 nonprofits locally, nationally and internationally. For his remarkable achievements at Harvard, Rob has won the 2009 environmental merit award from the Environmental Protection Agency, the New England division. Please join me in welcoming Harvard's waste guru, Rob Gogan.
Thank you, Pamela. So I have to give proper credit to Faith Sutter's wonderful slideshow you've been watching. I'd like to be able to take credit for this. But I'm not an archaeologist. But pretty nice photos there. So we have to say goodbye to these right now, though, and go down and queue up my Stuff by the Yard. All right.
So as Pamela said, I started as a student and I was a gadfly. Like many from my alma mater, Hampshire College, of which this another representative, school was founded in 1970. And I was in the founding class. So now you know how old I am. But I was asked recently to say, Well, what what's special about a hipster education, and when I said was, well, you're tolerant of ambiguity, and you're willing to break barriers and do new stuff. So here at the oldest university in the United States, and the wealthiest and the most bureaucratic, maybe not bureaucratic, but decentralized. That's the word Byzantine. Byzantine, right? I'm here to be an entrapreneur within Harvard. And my medium is materials, otherwise known as trash. So this is the second time I've done that. This is what I'm doing. Do I reach for my trusty remote advancer. There we go. So as as many of you, if not all of you know, Harvard is in an urban environment. The City of Cambridge grew up around it. They paved the walk carts, the walking trails, oxcart trails, creek beds, turn them into Eliot Street and Brattle Street. And it it's charming. It's the favorite place of many architects to have their offices, but it's also very hard to move big trucks around hauling a lot of stuff. And Harvard does handle a lot of stuff. If you look at a newer school like MIT, you'll see that all the new buildings have loading docks, which is a structure four feet off the ground, where a big tractor trailer can back up and you can move 100 cubic yards of stuff on or deliver 100 cubic yards of stuff, and then move it right into an elevator or onto a very barrier free, smooth, handicapped accessible campus. If any of you been to the Infinite Corridor in MIT, that's one reason why actually from a reuse viewpoint, at MIT, they have the reuse list where you just post, I've got a Dell optiplex 280, computer three years old, and putting it outside while I go to lunch. It's available to the first taker, and they come back from lunch and it's gone. Because somebody might have been on the other side of campus, but because it's barrier free, they were able to go and take their little dolly and then just the little 100 pound ballerina who's going to carry it back, takes it away, and it's hers, and not so at Harvard. So we've got lots of curb stones, right, TIllie? Tillie knows about this. Curb stones, barriers, steps and stairways and not ADA compliant at all. So we have about 40,000, the campus population of about 40,000. We have about 500 buildings, about 600 acres. Actually, we have more acres in Allston now than we have in Cambridge. But we also have a lot of acreage in Watertown. The Watertown Arsenal mall is owned by Harvard. And of course, we have the Harvard Forest. I don't know how many 1000s of acres in Petersham, but I don't deal with that kind of waste. And, by the way, $32 billion endowment. Well, Harvard was zero waste back in 1636, except for pot sherds and clay pipes and rum bottles. And there was a very interesting lecture here given by Christina Hodge this fall about the archeological dig they did in Harvard Yard. This past summer.
And this is the important date this to look at here is really 19 seven oops, No, that's not it. 1982 Cambridge landfill closes, because until that time, Harvard was able to send all of its refuse locally, send it to the many corners of Cambridge that were filled marsh land. East Boston, Back Bay, all these places were hungry to get soil to bring the ground level up so they could build on it. And then there was the New England Brickworks in what's now Danehey Park in Alewife pond area and Fresh Pond area.
And that was actually a logical place for landfill because it was a clay quarry, and when they build a landfill now to the specifications of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Reclamation Act, they have to put clay down and clay in between each day's fill. And so a brick quarry, a former brick quarry is a very good place for land, comparatively good place if there is such a thing as a good place for a landfill. But ever since 1982. Harvard has had to export its trash outside of Cambridge, and it's gone as nearby as Plainville, Massachusetts, and as far as Lee County, South Carolina. That's the furthest I've heard of garbage going and it went there for about 10 years, because there was very cheap disposal space down there in South Carolina. Now it goes most of the time it goes to the Rochester, New Hampshire Turnkey Landfill.
So this is one of these are some of the pot sherds that Christina Hodge dug up with their students this past summer. And notice those initials there was some Harvard student way back then and BP, who had to carry around his own mug or his own plate, whatever that was. And in many cases that might have been if he didn't do that he might have had to use the college mug. Because in those days, it was not at all uncommon. And you'll see this at Plimoth Plantation if you go visit. There was one cup perhaps so if you were drinking and someone else was thirsty, they had to wait. And then you would pass the cup over to them. But Harvard students, maybe back then just like today were in a hurry. They didn't want to wait for the cup because they had to get to their classes.
So what's in Harvard's refuse today? Well, this is what we know that we generate because of the scale weights we get back from the vendors with whom we do business. Allied Waste Services, Save That Stuff, Casella Waste, Herb's Disposal in the institution recycling network. So the basic recyclables: these are bottles, cans, papers, cardboard, it's about three and a half 1000 tons. Compostables, three streams of compostables, food scraps being the biggest, laboratory animal bedding, and landscape waste. Other recycling: this is things like scrap metal, scrap lumber, computers, in the surplus that we can weigh and measure. And then the trash this goes to the landfill and trash–you know, some people on some campuses, they say, well, you really shouldn't call it trash, because there's no such thing as trash. There's only resources in the wrong place the wrong time. And I would like to call it landfill. But there are many days where the trash goes to an incinerator. And actually, we've been asked by the Peabody Museum–one day about eight years ago, there were boxes which contained bones of Indians, Indian bones were returned to their tribes for ceremonial burial. And the tribal agreement with the Peabody Museum stated any clothing or packaging has to be burned. So we told all right, okay, well, this is part of the deal, we have to make sure that this is not landfill, that this gets burned. So that day went to an incinerator plant. But Allied does send the trash to incinerators, depending on where it's cheapest and most efficient for it to go. I guess I have a very small preference for incinerators because we do recover the energy.
Landfills generate lots of methane, very serious, much worse carbon generator than co2. And, of course, once you start down the slippery slope of which disposal method is the least objectionable, then you're endorsing the notion that it's okay to waste stuff which, which I don't accept. So our total refuse was about 14,000 tons. Per capita recycling–307 pounds trash that is. Per capita recycling 379 pounds. Average per plate food scraps, a little under two ounces. So something else we do in addition to asking our vendors to give us tonnages is we take waste audits, and we've done over 50 of them in the last 10 years. These are Harvard Business School students believe it or not, in five years, they're going to be making a lot more money than anyone who would have to trash through sorted through trash would be expected to have to do. And we take real honest-to-goodness harvest trash and open it up and wearing proper personal protective equipment approved by our Environmental Health and Safety Department. We go through the trash. And it's also really good because it shows the environmentally motivated students, there's still a lot of lot more recycling that we could do. And it gives us a benchmark with which we can chart our progress. So this is what we found in this fall's waste audits. 41% of what was discarded as trash could have been recycled in single stream recycling. And by the way, this is one of Richard's beautiful labels, which is unfortunately you don't see it in all its graphic glory. 41%. So the thing that of this 41% when we first started doing these 15 years ago, at least a quarter that was newspapers. You know how many newspapers we found in this fall's waste audit? 50 bags. We look through 50 bags: two Harvard Crimsons. And 15 years ago, we would be finding Boston Globes, New York Times, Wall Street Journals. And the case of lots of the libraries, Widener Library subscribed to over 100 periodicals every day. So we had 100 newspapers, 100 copies of every newspaper every day from the Widener Library to recycle. But this fall two. Compostables, another big part of the waste stream. 20% of those were food, edible food scraps. reusables, about 4%. This is clothing mostly. But it seems we always find a stapler in every waste audit with a jam in it. So we just reach in our scissors and pop out the staple and you know, and we go. I haven't bought a stapler in a long time. I've been quite choosy. I won't tell you where I got these shoes. They're nice shoes too. Well, we don't want to waste anything. And we're fortunate at Harvard to have the leadership of Drew Faust, the president who made the commitment in 2005, or actually 2007, I guess, to reduce Harvard's greenhouse gas production 30% below the 2006 levels by 2016. That includes all the growth associated with the Northwest Labs, the new law school building, the Wasserstein Caspersen Clinical Center, and the new Fogg Museum, which will be opened by then. So she also made eight beds available in Harvard dorms every summer since 2006 for Harvard Habitat for Humanity students to spend the summer sorting through the moveout donations. As long as they pledged to work 20 hours a week, 30 hours a week sorting, and preparing for the Habitat stuff sale. And you'll see more about that in a minute.
Before Drew, we had Larry Summers, who agreed to the six sustainability principles that were going to guide the development and operation of the university going forward. Principle number one is the university is committed to institutional practices, the decreased production of waste, both in Harvard's own operations, and in those of its suppliers. And the supply chain waste is about 100 times more than Harvard's direct waste. So we're going to talk more about that in a minute. So this is Drew again, with members of the resource efficiency program (REP). Every house at Harvard, and every dorm neighborhood has a rep. And these are students at Harvard, who reduce waste, promote recycling, energy conservation, and they do it in the language and style and technique and culture of their peers. Nobody's kind of listened to me went to college in 1970. When I talk about the hottest cool things, you know, I barely have a Facebook page. But some of these people are the types of people who invented Facebook. So they know how to get to their students. When you're, they were talking about, oh, we need to do a golf around this move out time. Yeah, let's do a golf. And I said, well, what's a golf? I said, Well, you know, it's, it's when you go to a bar and you have a drink there and you go to another bar and you have a drink there. It's like, you know, you do 18 holes, you do 18 bars. Wow. Please don't tell the dean that. I approve this. But yeah, you can go for it. So they did a golf where the students, the graduating seniors listed, Dunster 225, you can find free for the taking or for 100 bucks or whatever they wanted to put a price on it for a futon and coffee table and all the stuff that they didn't want to move with them back out into the real world. So they've taught me a lot of things, like what golf is. This is the reason why it's so much more important to reduce waste and recycle it composted it, or certainly the landfill it. Every laptop we have in our hands, every brick that of which our buildings are made, every paper, piece of paper that's printed at Harvard, generates about 100 times more waste upstream in the forests, and in the mines. And in the factories, in the diesel smoke of the trucks that were delivering the goods that came all the way here, in the water that was used to wash the factories and all the industrial procedures that went into making the goods. So when the EPA's director was asked, What's the one best thing ordinary people can do to reduce our carbon footprint in the United States. And she said, Well, it's to recycle and reduce waste. Because when you buy smartly, when you carry your bag, love your mug, when you share, when you free cycle, you're preventing all the upstream waste in forests finds oceans and factories where the natural resources are extracted.
So our goal is zero waste by 2020. One of the main things, first things we did anyway, to make progress towards managing our materials with perfect efficiency was recycling. And three years ago, we decided to go for single stream recycling. It was a little bit risky at the time because the City of Cambridge was still dual stream. In other words, bottles, and cans were separate from papers in boxes. But the city of Boston was going single stream and Casella had recently expanded, they had added eight optical sorters, to their MRF in Charlestown where they can automatically sort out all the main components of the recyclable stream. So we said, you know what, we're going to recover a lot more tons, if we make it easier for people to recycle. And when we take away–when instead of two barrels there, one for paper and one for bottles and cans, when we take away one of the recycling barrels, we can put in a compost barrel, because that's the wave of the future. And we're gonna see compost receptacles not only in all the cafeterias, but all the Starbucks, all the restaurants, all the homes, and at curbside. City of Cambridge is exploring that right now. Very important to make it fun. Environmentalists are accused of being very dry, and very boring and deadly serious. But it doesn't have to be that way. Freecycles are a blast. Have any of you been to a freecycle? Yeah, they're fun. You get stuff free. And you get to see the stuff that's weighing you down that you don't want anymore, but you feel guilty about throwing it away, you get to see that lighting a fire of delight in someone else's eyes, and taking it home. And clothing swaps. Look at the joy there. This is the Harvard Business School for goodness sake. They're joyfully scavenging the stuff that one business school student didn't want, and leaving the stuff that they that they didn't want. So there are 1000s of examples of this kind of phenomenon that are happening now and businesses and very profitable businesses and not just things like Craigslist, or, but things like Zipcar, and neighbor goods, and couch, couch surfing in there, the internet has enabled all of this very careful inventorying and photographing of goods that people other people might be able to use. So lots of people have a lot of fun doing this.
Getting off junk mail lists. That's a current campaign that a lot of FAS departments are doing right now. And of course, the tree huggers of the Environmental Action Committee. They just love the trees. So we like to partner with them and keep them involved with everything we're doing. So here's another freecycle here at Holyoke Center. These are students from England, visitors who were delighted to get Harvard wallets that the freshman dean's office didn't manage to distribute to all the entering Harvard students the year before. This is a Harvard Law School Earth Day fair. The sirtoon competition that just opened entries are opening now. Do any of you know about the sirtoon competition? This is a cartoon competition where students draw environmental cartoons. Often they refer to waste reduction and recycling but not always. But I'd like this one because it kind of mimics the anthropologists ascent from out of the the quadrupeds to the two legged. But this takes us to our modern, very discouraged person who's burdened with this weight of stuff they don't need. And that was by James Powers in 2008. This is Mount Trashmore. This is we set this up every year, one day's trash from Harvard Yard. And these are reps out in front. And we like to use these step signs. I got the idea to use step signs from CJ May at a school that will not be named in New Haven.
They these are like realtors, each shaped signs that you can that it takes an 11 by 17 inch print out perfectly. So the reps make made signs and stapled on to it newspapers, everything from newspapers to headphones to solo cups. They said a Harvard student could have recycled this, but they didn't. Just kind of make it, make the students aware of the opportunities. The Harvard Office for Sustainability (OFS) has been extremely helpful to us. They started in the year 2000. They cosponsored with us the Eco rep program. They have the Green Office program where Harvard offices can go for one leaf, two leaf, three leaf, for leaf certifications. And you can only get to leaf three or leaf four if you recycle the sort of trickier things like batteries and computers and cell phones and inkjet etc, etc. So people want to get to leaf three leaf for, you know, Harvard students and staff. In fact, they are very competitive with each other, you know, if the office across the quad has his leaf two, you know, they say, How do I get to a leaf three, you know, they really want to want to be better.
And speaking of being better, this is Recyclemania, a 10-week contest sponsored by the EPA. Harvard was the first school outside of Ohio to sign up. And I can't put the 2011 gorilla prize results there because we didn't do quite as well. But in 2010, we finished second just ahead of school that will not be named in Palo Alto. And we we like the way Recyclemania has kind of kicked the competitive spirits of colleges around the country. And just this week, we found out that the US service academies, all of them, and more including Virginia Military Institute, the Citadel and a couple of others are competing in their own military Recyclemania. And it's amazing if you want to see efficient, I wish I could get Harvard students to recycle as well as they do at West Point. They have a video on their, what's he called? I think he's called Captain Crash or something. If you don't recycle, Captain Crash will find you. And he will make you do some very unpleasant things with a toothbrush. So yeah, sometimes I wish that we we could be a little more demanding, or commanding, I guess. But we can't, we have to make it fun. We have to make them want to do it. We have to make it the right thing to do. And the hardest thing to do and come on it really isn't that hard, is it? And besides, you'll help us win Recyclemania. Remember those initial sherds from the pottery dig? Well, this is Devin Newhouse, she's a rep from Currier House. And she's holding her Harvard-issued mug that she probably has emblazoned her initials on. And when the freshman last year came to Harvard, the dining services in Annenberg Hall said well this would be a great time to take away the paper cups. And they did. They just took them away. And they gave every Harvard student one at, they distributed them at a Brain Break. You know what that is? Because Harvard students stay up all night now. They need to take a break around midnight and get refreshment so you know, in the old days, they got up for breakfast. Well, now they get up for breakfast and the parents are still paying for it, by the way, and glad to pay it because they want the kids to have three square meals. But the kids are saying the dining halls close too soon. So they have a brain break where they have cereal and toast and peanut butter and jelly and stuff. And one of these brain breaks, they had 3000 of these mugs from Horlick Corporation, who was very happy to show off their new colors. I forget what that's called. But a student's being young and trendy, like to have the latest colors. So they have nine colors of mugs, which also it's like the colors of a car, helping you find your car in the parking lot. What happens with these mugs is when they use them, they put them if they need them to be washed, they leave them on their tray with their other service where it goes to the dishwasher. And Dining Services then puts it out the next day on a mug tree. And this is like a coat rack with instead of just three or four pegs on the top, it has pegs all the way down to the floor. And when the students come in, they come in. Devon's gonna look for her magenta mug, and find it a lot faster because there are several color options.
This is a chart of our food waste reduction, the reps in conjunction with the food literacy program reps of the dining services, do a food waste audit, and they check the the edible food that's left on students' plates. And when we first did it in 2005, the average was about five ounces. And last fall, it was under two ounces. So they do it by praising students for cleaning their plate. And they literally there there are times when they think it's the coolest thing to stand there with a sheet of labels that say clean plate club. And they say would you like to join the clean plate club ? Sure. So they put it up. But you know, there's a there's a certain week when all of the Harvard clubs and organizations are recruiting for you know, Harvard democrats or Harvard, or the many, many groups, Hasty Pudding, etc, etc. And you have to be invited to join. So that you see you see this kind of thing of people having buttons and affiliation. So we saw people actually saying, you know where I can join the clean plate club. Reuse, reuse has been the most gratifying part of my job. We've been able to divert about 700 tons of reusable furniture, supplies, and equipment, about two and a half million dollars a year of reused furniture, clothing and books. And last year, we raised $102,000 for seven student organizations, principally Harvard Habitat for Humanity and vocational training for 25 special needs students. These are some of the Habitat for Humanity kids. This is the YWCA family shelter, Valentine's cosmetic drive, that's Lulu got a new manicure and and makeup that she was very grateful to get and you should read some of the thank-you letters we get. I have. I have about 200 thank you letters that people organizations and needy individuals have sent me. Harvard Athletics periodically refreshes its fitness equipment. And one year the Tomasello Boxing Club of Saugus came in and you know, they were proud to wear their t shirts that showed off their muscles, you know, so the they came in and picked up a truck load. And this is Jenny Lou Business School student getting collections for for the Valentine's cosmetics drive. And if any of you have spare cosmetics in your medicine cabinet or travel samples, let me know because we're going to take them over for the biggest Valentine's party in Cambridge.
We've worked very closely with the city also. The city in 1991, passed the mandatory recycling ordinance which required individuals residents and institutions and businesses to recover nine commodities for recycling. And we were very happy to comply. I was especially happy that that Cambridge asked Harvard because I think that's the main reason why they gave me the job. This is Scott Sandburg receiving a, an award from Mayor Galluccio in Cambridge at the time. He passed away in 2002. He was a very strong recycling advocate. And when we told Henrietta Davis what a special guy Scott was for our recycling programs, she said, Well, you know what, we should name a square in Cambridge, after Scott Sandburg. So they went, and they declared the intersection of Mason Street and St. James, the Scott Sandburg square. And that's his daughter, Jessie with him. We had a move-out donation station program, at little Mass Ave. across from the law school. We recovered about 1000 pounds of goods, we'd love to do that, again, with the city if they want to do it. Again, it's a little risky, because no matter how late, you have the collection station up there. The last donation is going to come the day after you remove it. So it's it's a little risky when it's temporary like that, and that's what makes the city nervous. But the city greatly expanded their drop off center in Inman Square. So I guess they figured that's gonna accommodate students. The donations, we get go all over the country, all over the world. We work very closely with the Cambridge resident, who is a native of Haiti, who, whose brother in law was the Archbishop of Port au Prince. So especially since the tragedy of spring before last when they had the earthquake, we've been sending we've sent so far we've sent four container loads of goods. Those are 200 cubic yard container logs to Port au Prince, Haiti. And, and crutches, too, tragically, there's a lot of people in Haiti could use crutches. And it's it's amazing when you see how many crutches Harvard students throw away and move out. That's the thing that everyone who comes into the warehouse and what's with all the crutches You know, it looks like it's a disaster. Well, Harvard actually has the biggest athletics program in the country. We have 42, varsity and club sports, men's and women's. So that's, it's over 100 different programs. So Harvard has the strongest, broadest, maybe not the best set for basketball this year. athletics program. So this is the stuff sale that what it's what it looks like. And over the years, the habitat, kids have identified the one spot where you're going to catch the parents of 1600 freshmen walking across the Science Center lawn to buy a new laptop, and they wait four or five deep for the back of the truck to open up and they jump on the goods that we've recovered. Every Thursday at 11. We have our surplus distribution, for needy individuals, organizations, and also scavengers. It is a little dangerous, risk management risk management people from Harvard have come and watched it. But they actually in the end, they're amazed at how well it runs because it's self policing. Right, Chris? People sort of watch out for each other. And then Hey, hey, come on. Now. You got to stop running, you know, hey, don't grab that. There's enough for everybody. This is where some of Harvard's dorm furniture has gone to an orphanage in El Salvador. and elsewhere in Central America in the Caribbean.
We've worked also a program that was started by students in the class of 2004. Alison Rodgers and Esther Tian said, you know, Harvard recycles and scraps all these computers. Why don't we? Why don't we see if we can fix them up, make them available to needy Harvard employees, you know, security guards, dining hall workers, custodians, etc. And, little by little, they got this thing going. And eventually they went on, they moved on and graduated. But we found out about the lab program in Lexington, where for vocational training, they like to bring their students to do real tasks where they can see their progress. They love manufacturing assembly line type work, which, over the last 20-30 years, has kind of moved out of Massachusetts, largely. But we've got plenty of stuff at Harvard for them to sort through. So they sort batteries, phones, they pick up the monitors and PCs out of the hampers in which we bring them. They plug them in, see if they come on. And under the direction of a couple of techies who know what they're doing, they refurbish the computers. And we've sold more and more of those. And two people now make a retirement living by running this program. And these lab kids come in and get some vocational training, quad bikes, another one of our on campus partners, bicycles are among the most visible discards on campus. And that look familiar. All over Harvard, you see these abandoned bikes and they get vandalized. They get picked over and then rusty and nobody can use them. So the people that--quad bikes led by Tim Ledley, and J.C. Agridillo have figured out a way, there are a lot of legal hurdles to doing this. Because when you cut a bike and seize it, and especially if you give it away to somebody, well, a certain a very large fraction of those bikes belong to Harvard students who are very well connected, and a lot of them are away on leave, or they've been hospitalized for a couple of months or whatever, whatever legitimate reason, they haven't been able to pick up the bikes. So the building managers get so much grief from the parents and lawyers of the students whose bikes we seized. They just want to take a hands off attitude. So we really had to get the police involved. And I credit Quad bikes with working with the police. And with the Commuter Choice Program, to give us the means and the permission to cut the bikes and season them for a while and then fix them up and sell them. This is some pictures from our Valentine's Day cosmetics drive. You know, you talk about joy, there's just such exuberance.
And so the surplus we've diverted mostly office furniture, at least at least 200 tons of move out stuff conservatively 192 tons. And about 29 tons of computers, refurbished and are sold, and 200 serviceable meals to the Greater Boston Food Bank. In the Gospel of John, one of my favorite passages quotes at the end of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus said to His disciples, after the crowds had eaten and gone, he said, Now go out there and collect the uneaten food, lets none be wasted. So one of my favorite quotes, if I could have the guts to put a quote from Jesus on one of our trucks, I'd like to do that. I don't think it would fly at Harvard. So these are some things we've run into. There's some greedy charities out there, they'll take everything and people can get injured. And I'd be glad to send you a copy of the fine print sometime. Harvard Landscape Services we've worked a lot taking. It would be my dream to take all the organic refuse that's generated on Harvard's campus in replenish Harvard soils with the composted nutrients. We no longer send any landscape waste off campus. It all goes to the Arnold Arboretum where it's composted, and then screened out with this big read screen all and they use every bit of it. That's Wayne Carbone, manager of landscape services with T Fleischer. One of the great blessings of being at Harvard is all these geniuses come from the four corners of the world to give you good advice. And T. Fleischer had run Batterymarch Park in New York City. And he was a Loeb fellow at the Graduate School of Design four years ago. And he called up Wayne and said, Hey, you know, I've done some stuff with organics, and I wonder if you'd like to know and, and he sort of dropped the word that it was possible for organic maintenance to give you greener lawns, more robust lawns, more stomping friendly lawns, than the chemical treatment and he proved it by taking a sample of Harvard Yard and this is the control plot right there. Eight weeks later after the implement after the inoculation with compost tea, and composted long, the root structures were twice as deep. We set that up at Earth Day, in 2006, and in front of Mass Hall, Drew Faust came out, it was really interesting. Wow, this is great. Well, let's just do that. Let's, let's just do it that way now. So now 100% organic maintenance for the grounds that are maintained by Harvard. There are a lot of contractors who maintain different pockets of the university but all of Harvard's own landscape services are maintained organically, we still do spray for elm. There's still as some judicious spraying for elms, Dutch Elm disease. These are some of the back of the house equipment that we use to densify and deliquefy our compost. So Matt grinds up, pulps in a slurry, and then spins dry at the loading dock the food and drops it into a dumpster that can be picked up. This is a bio green 360 that we're going to be installing in the law school next week. This pre digests the waste, so you don't have to take so much loading dock space and send so many trucks to pick up the weight with the wet undigested waste. And this is what it looks like when it's dumped at the farm. This is Peter Britain at Brickends Farm who receives a lot of the organics food scraps and animal bedding from Harvard. Hamilton, we'll be leading a tour there this March if anyone wants to go just let me know. He loves giving tours to Harvard. He's a former high school English teacher and very articulate guy, fun guy to to visit with. We partner a lot with our charities and there you see herbs again as a duplication.
I'm glad this isn't going on HGTV, Faith. So we work a lot. One of the most powerful things about an organization like Harvard that spends about $3 billion a year in its operations is that we can tell our vendors do it this way. And one of the things we told Allied before they change, used to be BFI, we want you to collect our trash with a CNG compactor truck. And we knew it was technically feasible. And they said okay, we'll do it. And we've also worked with some of our suppliers of new products. Officemax is the main supplier of office products on campus. This is the business schools closed loop program. When Officemax comes with a truck loaded with paper, toner cartridges, computers and other goods to deliver to Harvard's loading docks, their truck is empty. When we collect trash from Harvard, the waste or recycling truck leaves their yard empty. When you do the round trip of both trucks is only of each truck is only 50%. If we could get Officemax to take the fraction of the materials that will ultimately be wasted or recycled by Harvard onto their empty truck. Now we don't even have to dispatch a trash truck or a garbage truck. We reduce the trash the truck traffic in Harvard Square by 50%. Which is an awesome thing to do. Producer responsibility. It's the way of the future, supply chain awareness. And this is what this is what people like Mrs MacFarlane, who spoke last December, forgetting her Samantha MacBride was was talking about this needs to happen more and more. This is why we like the bottle bill, by the way. So we have to work with a diverse group of people, landscapers, dining service workers, landscapers, we have to get them all to do what we want. We have to be sensitive to their ergonomic concerns, to their labor relations concerns. One of the times when sustainability ran contrary to labor friendliness was when the dining service workers this fall, were up for having their contract renewed. One thing they didn't like about the sustainable food preparation we had advocated was, we said you should ask for pre-chopped pre-peeled vegetables. And that way fewer trucks burn less fuel. You you use what you need this less even have to compost. But the dining service worker said, but hey, you know there's a couple of people in every dining hall peeling those carrots all the time. So we worked it out, they worked it out anyway, everybody's happy now they re-signed. So we've taken Harvard recycling from just about 52 tons to over 8000 tons, dropped per capita trash almost in half. We're only halfway there, 2010 goes to zero. So with good planning, infrastructure, social marketing, partnerships and peer marketing. This, by the way, is Allie Rogers class of 2004. Miss Rhode Island, she started the computer recycling program. And she's now working in the US Capitol, greening the US Capitol. Even though John Harvard can learn how to be green, while conserving natural resources, helping his younger neighbors and feeding local soils. So that's my show. Thank you for coming. Thank you. Thank you to the Peabody Museum. And I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have. There is a reception afterwards. Yes.
One of the number one question, well, you can recycle anything. It's just how many natural resources do you want to burn up? Driving truckloads and truckloads of fluffed up polystyrene resin? You know, do you know how much diesel fuel you have to burn to recycle a ton of fluffy fluffy styrofoam. You know, you just can't condense it to well, if there was a way to condense it down to just the resin and it would be like a BB sized particle. Do you know that there's more plastic in a so-called paper cup than there is in a polystyrene foam cup? There's more plastic. And you have all the paper and sizes and sizing agents, dyes and so on in the paper cup. But there are certain laboratories that get lots of sample boxes and packing material. And you can go to any UPS Store and recycle foam peanuts, not the blocks. And we have two in Cambridge.
Well, Rutgers is right in the middle of the Northeast industrial corridor. So they've got lots and lots of markets for all their stuff. They also are still rural enough to have dairy farms that can receive a lot of the food scraps. So for years, for decades and decades, they've been doing really good things with their food scraps. And they've got ready markets. The Newark Group, biggest paper recycling company in the United States is right in Newark, lots of local mills right there. So but they also someone was there a little mad at Rutgers because they fuse all their campuses and in Recyclemania they report is it's not just Rutgers, the what's the main campus? They have five Camden, New Brunswick Newark, etc, etc. Yeah, so yes.
Most of us who live in cities. What do you think about disposals? The only thing I throw away are corn cobs.
Yeah, well, disposers, it depends on your local sewage treatment options in the Boston area. The bad thing about disposers is it all goes to Deer Island, where it's if you're in the MWRA treatment district, and it greatly raises the biotic oxygen demand, reduces the efficiency of that facility. When you eat when people eat food and it passes through our digestive tract, we really break down all those molecules and make them you know how many billions of different microbes break it down, masticate digested, very very easy to break down into stable fertilizer. Human sewage, very hard to do that with broccoli stocks and carrot peels. So it does take.
Yeah, yeah, I don't blame you. That's fine. Although a lot of people have done great things with freezers, you know, they freeze it. And then once a week, they go to an office that has a compost bin, and that's where it goes. But you know, there are good reasons not to do that, rodent control, etc. But if I were, if I couldn't compost at all, I would buy a lot more pre processed food. And I, guess I would put it down and disposer Yeah. People love to back you into the corner. What is it going to be paper bag or plastic bag? Neither. It's a reusable bag. Yes. Yeah.
[inaudible audience question]
Yeah, the infrastructure also, you know, it. Cambridge has hardening of the sewage arteries. And we've actually seen their pictures in Biocycle Magazine of Cambridge sewage pipes, sewage pipes, all clogged up with this amazing plaster made of spaghetti and rice and grease and all this stuff. is not what the public works guys are happy to see. We have time for sorry.
[inaudible audience question]
Yes, San Francisco has a 75% recycling rate. And Cambridge's is about 35. Two big reasons. One, they have a longer growing season two, they have vineyards very close by that have a huge appetite for compost. So they can afford to invest more of their public works dollars into compost management. Here, we only have a five-month growing season. There they have pretty much a 12-month growing season or at least 10 months. So they can afford to do that. They're also much closer to the Asian markets for recycling. They get paid twice as much as we do here. So they have lots and lots of restaurants too.
Well, at the mill and we do take tours of the Casella recycling plant, too, they pull out the trash, some of the trash, I mean, you can't get put in The number one worst trash is food in recycling. Number two is probably plastic bags, even though they have the recycling arrows on them, because they blow around. They use fans a lot in the facility. And you see this film. And actually the number one worst contaminant is videotapes that get broken out of their cases that blow like streamers all over the plant is terrible. But there is a contamination layer. You know, recycling is a compromise. And it has to be 95%, clean, recyclables if it exceeds that, and that's what the end product is from Casella. Well, there is a reception immediately following and I urge you to bring any further questions you might have through the galleries, and we'll get to see some of that authentic Harvard Yard ancient trash that Christina and her crew dug up. I think the exhibit is open. Thank you.