Campus Race to Zero Waste

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Campus Race to Zero Waste (formerly, Recyclemania) is an 8-week national waste diversion and recycling competition against colleges and universities to promote waste reduction activities in campus communities. This year, the competition runs from January 31 - March 27. Throughout the competition, the Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with other campus organizations and departments, is holding interactive, virtual events and running various campaigns for all students, faculty, and staff to participate in. In addition to virtual events, the Office of Sustainability has opted to participate in the case study category of Campus Race to Zero Waste.  The two case studies we will be submitting are:

  1. Expansion of the Eco Container Program

  2. Pre-consumer composting pilot in the University Center

Eco Container Program

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lehigh Dining successfully continued the use of reusable dishware in the dining halls throughout the fall semester. For several years, the Eco Container, a reusable clamshell takeout container, has been offered to students. Beginning in spring 2021, every student with a meal plan is automatically enrolled in the Eco Container Program. Not only is this an added benefit to Lehigh’s existing meal plans, but it is also considered a progressive move. While many colleges and universities around the country have shifted to single-use, disposable food containers and dishware in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lehigh is expanding the reusable Eco Container Program. 

Over the course of the semester, Lehigh Dining and the Office of Sustainability will assess the expansion’s costs, marketing strategy, and impact on on campus waste reduction. Sharing our method and findings through the Campus Race to Zero Waste Case Study with other institutions will assist in getting their sustainable dining efforts back on track. 

Pre-consumer Composting Pilot

Composting has been a hotly pursued project at Lehigh University for years. What appears to be a rather simple way of reducing waste on campus is, in reality, a quite complex system that must be carefully planned and managed to be effective. Effective February 1, a pre-consumer composting pilot began in the kitchens of the University Center.  Pre-consumer composting systems are simpler to launch than post-consumer composting systems due to a lowered probability of contamination. The goal is to expand this pre-consumer composting pilot to all dining locations across campus and, eventually, pilot post-consumer composting.

Events & Campaigns

Throughout the competition the Office of Sustainability, in collaboration with other organizations and departments, will be holding interactive, virtual events and running various campaigns for all students, faculty, and staff to participate in. The full list and calendar of events is outlined below. We hope that the practices learned from the Recyclemania competition remain in place moving forward.​

Past Results