Zero Waste Action Plan

When the College’s strategic plan was finalized and published, the Zilkha Center was tasked by the Provost to convene stakeholders to create actionable plans with more specific strategies for a number of the key sustainability areas.  

The Zero Waste Action Planning Group (ZWAPG) spent the 2021-2022 academic year drafting the Zero Waste Action Plan (ZWAP) – a living document that guides our collective campus work on waste management, materials handling, and procurement.  

The college’s climate action plan has some overlaps with the ZWAP and can be found here.

  • The Zero Waste Action Plan has begun detailing out each action into steps and when necessary phases and is working with campus stakeholders to implement the actions.  The Zilkha Center is working on creating a Sustainability Dashboard that will lay out sustainability goals - including zero waste - and the progress that the college is making on each.

    The college's zero waste goals, actions to achieve those goals, and ZWAPG membership can be found in the doc linked above.

  • During the 2020-2021 academic year, the Zilkha Center worked with campus partners and Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) to create a Zero Waste Strategic Vision using both the Atlas waste assessment and the waste, materials management, and procurement recommendations parts of the Responsible Consumption (p. 37) section of the Sustainability Strategic Plan report.  ZW Interns Lauren Lynch '23 and Rika Nakato '24 researched ZW best practices at other institutions around the country and worked with campus stakeholders to understand the current opportunities and barriers.  During the spring semester, they detailed out the steps required to turn the high level plan into an actionable and living document.

  • The campus-wide zero waste assessment (Atlas) was conducted by Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) in collaboration with the Zilkha Center during the 2019-2020 academic year.  PLAN staff worked with Zilkha Center Zero Waste Interns Lauren Lynch '23 and Coco Rhum '23 to interview stakeholders in departments across campus to assess the college's current approach to waste, materials management, and purchasing - a departure from and a step beyond the previous waste reduction and diversion approach.  Additionally, the timing of this assessment aligned well with campus-wide strategic planning conversations.  As the sustainability working group identified in their recommendations, the college needs to improve measurement of what we are doing - in order to a) set baselines so that we can b) set realistic, bold goals.  The Atlas Zero Waste assessment is part of that crucial baseline setting.

    In mid-May 2020, Lauren, Coco, and PLAN Co-Founder Alex Freid gave a virtual presentation about the Atlas methodology, Williams-specific findings, and laid the groundwork for collaborative campus problem-solving and implementation starting in the fall. To learn more, check out the slides from and recording of that presentation as well as the report.

    To view a recording of the presentation, click on the image above.