The Road to a Zero Waste Campus
Zero Waste Atlas Fellowship: Spring Class of 2021
The Zero Waste Atlas Fellowship is a brand new program PLAN launched in 2020 to collaborate with students and staff that are passionate about helping their campus develop a strategic plan to achieve zero waste. The Fellowship provides students with the hands-on training and experience to be able to perform Stage 1 of the zero waste assessment of their campus. Atlas Fellows will learn how to use the Atlas Campus Programs Checklist to perform the interviews needed to gather data for the campus assessment.
If you are a campus that is interested in receiving a Stage 1 Atlas Report and Score, but find the cost to be a prohibitive factor, we want to hear from you! Please submit your application materials and submit a request to our Equitable Access Fund, linked in the Fellowship Application Form.
Applications for our Spring Class of 2021 are closed. Stay tuned for more information about our Summer Class of 2021!
What is the Zero Waste Atlas?
In the Summer of 2017 we realized that none of the dozens of college campuses across the US with publicly stated goals of achieving zero waste by 2020 were on track. Especially at a time of global ecological crisis, it was clear that we needed visionary leadership to establish campus-wide systems that reduce consumption and eliminate waste. Thus, we began a research project to try to understand what was going on, which brought us to 3 main conclusions:
- All campuses benchmark their progress towards zero waste by measuring their diversion rate (an annual measurement of the percent weight of the material not sent to landfills or incinerators). Here are 5 Reasons Why the Diversion Metric Doesn’t Measure Zero Waste.
- Most campuses that are stuck with low diversion rates focus on education and outreach, but there are often underlying system-level inefficiencies that need to be addressed first. Infrastructure change has to happen before we see the desired results of behavior change.
- Campuses often have units, silos, and departments that navigate budgets and management independently, but to truly eliminate waste, we need campus-wide policies and material management systems and infrastructure that serve the entire campus.
Over the last few years we have worked to address these challenges by testing and piloting a new initiative called Atlas:
The Zero Waste Atlas is a holistic assessment framework for measuring waste reduction on college and university campuses. Our goal is to assist campuses with the process of understanding and benchmarking exactly what systems they have in place to reduce waste, developing strategic plans to establish new policies and material management systems and infrastructure, and tracking their progress towards shared goals.
Stage 1: Assessment, Report, and Scoresheet
.We start off by working with campus sustainability staff to perform a pre-assessment of campus-wide materials management infrastructure and develop a list of relevant stakeholders. Then, utilizing our extensive Campus Programs Checklist, PLAN staff or the campus’ Atlas Fellows interview all stakeholders to assess infrastructure, policies, and procedures, as well as standardization and communication systems. At the end of Stage 1, we produce a report with detailed findings and recommendations, as well as a baseline Zero Waste Score for the campus.
Stage 1 Pricing: Atlas pricing is customized to each campus’ experience and needs. As we work through the proposal with campuses, we share a detailed hours estimate and offer campuses the opportunity to add or remove hours as they see fit for this stage. The cost of this engagement covers in-person campus visits by PLAN staff, report development, and PLAN membership for the following year. For more information about pricing, contact us using the form below.
- Campuses with 10,000 students or fewer: $5,000 – $7,500
- Campuses with more than 10,000 students: $7,500 – $10,000
Stage 1 Fellowship Pricing: We now offer a second style of engagement aside from the traditional Stage 1 outlined above, called the Zero Waste Atlas Fellowship. As we’ve moved toward our student-driven Atlas Fellowship model, our pricing scale has evolved to reflect the reduced costs associated with having a student or staff member who is already on campus conduct the stakeholder interviews. For campuses engaging with us through this model, we have set our pricing as shown below.
Stage 2: Zero Waste Strategic Visioning
In our experience, implementing sweeping campus-wide initiatives can be incredibly challenging without stakeholder engagement. And even when all stakeholders across multiple departments agree, they may not have the funding or the authority to implement those initiatives. Stage 2 is an opportunity to work with the Atlas Team to facilitate campus stakeholders through a constructive process of reviewing the Stage 1 report and identifying system-wide gaps in program efficiencies that affect multiple departments. Together, we workshop and develop long-term campus-wide solutions. At the end of Stage 2, the Atlas Team produces a Zero Waste Strategic Vision document for the stakeholder committee that can be shared with upper-level campus administration for final approval.
Stage 2 Pricing: Atlas pricing is customized to each campus’ experience and needs. As we work through the proposal with campuses, we share a detailed hours estimate and offer campuses the opportunity to add or remove hours as they see fit for this stage. This fee covers in-person campus visits, report development, and PLAN membership for the following year. For more information about pricing, contact us using the form below.
- Campuses with 10,000 students or fewer: $4,000-$6,000
- Campuses with more than 10,000students: $6,000-$10,000
Josephine A. Lamprey Summer 2020 Fellowship Campuses
Previous Atlas Campuses
“The Atlas Project was critical to organizing all of the various programs, streams, and educational campaigns on campus related to waste. Having a cohesive 360 Assessment and Zero Waste Atlas that puts all the pieces together into one puzzle is helping us achieve our vision of a zero-waste campus and creating a circular economy culture with our faculty, staff, students, and guests at Carleton. Chris and Meghann have been – and continue to be – extremely helpful, offering guidance on project planning, research, and expertise in the zero-waste innovations field.”
— Alex Miller, Sustainability Program Coordinator at Carleton College
“Instead of letting the goal of zero waste be daunting and overwhelming, the Atlas team really helped us focus in on the big picture and look at the goal as a long-term, ever-changing process. Their outside perspective on our operations helped us immensely in determining our biggest areas for improvement and allowed us to consider options we would have never thought to pursue. We have a lot of work ahead of us to reach our goals, but with the help of the Atlas team, we are even more excited and ready to tackle the challenge than ever.”
— Annalisa Tarrizo, Zero Waste Services Coordinator & Carolyn Brown, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator at University of Tennessee Knoxville
“The Atlas project provides campuses with the ability to create a structured plan for achieving zero waste. Guided by personalized campus data and assessments the format allows campuses to think through and structure various programs or policies so they are tangible and long lasting. It’s this kind of work that helps campuses build a framework, garner support and see results.”
— Katherine Schumacher, Zero Waste Program Manager at Arizona State University
To build this framework, we closely collaborated with 8 campuses across the country who are leading the way in college and university zero waste efforts. Our Advisor campuses include:
Want to get involved?
Fill out our interest form!