Duke University Procurement and Waste


Fall 2012 - Spring 2013


This report examines Duke University's Procurement Department and Waste Reduction & Recycling Department to identify opportunities for environmental improvement. With regards to waste reduction and recycling, the students conducted two different waste reduction and recycling efforts to increase Duke's 39% recycling rate, thereby lowering the amount of trash the university sends to the landfill. They conducted a series of waste audits to better understand Duke's to-landfill waste stream. The audits revealed that 47% of the waste sent to the landfill could have been recycled and that 23% could have been composted. Second the students investigated whether Duke should consider switching to single-stream recycling (versus multiple-stream). Models were created that projected potential impacts of switching to single-stream recycling. The models predicted that transitioning could reduce Duke's annual tipping fee by up to $46,568 and reduce the commensurate CO2e emissions by up to 281 metric tons.

With regards to procurement, the student evaluated the effectiveness of Duke's current sustainable procurement policies and practices through website information review and interviews. Additionally, the students investigated the widely varying sustainable procurement approaches used by 30 other peer higher education institutions. The work resulted in a list of recommendations to improve upon Duke's already successful model.




Yang Liu, John Shepherd


Charlotte Clark, Tavey Capps


Duke Waste and Recycling, Procurement, Sustainable Duke

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compost, Policy & Planning, Purchasing and Procurement, recycling, single stream, sustainable procurement, Waste, waste audit