Atlas Campus-Wide Zero Waste Assessment

Atlas is a Zero Waste Assessment conducted by Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) in collaboration with the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.

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 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 welll 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. 

Williams College Atlas Zero Waste Report

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

Of course, COVID-19 has presented challenges both in general and at Williams regarding waste.  PLAN is in the process of compiling best practices at the intersection of health, safety, and sustainability from organizations such as the CDC and FDA.  The Zilkha Center will be working with our operational departments to determine how we can apply those practices.  For more about COVID-19 and waste, read Lauren and Coco’s piece they wrote for The Record.

To learn more, check out the slides from and recording of that presentation as well as the report.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, the Zilkha Center has been working with campus partner sand PLAN to create a Zero Waste Strategic Plan 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 are researching ZW best practices at other institutions around the country and working with campus stakeholders to understand the current opportunities and barriers.

Email the Zilkha Center with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

For more information about waste at the college, visit our Zero Waste page.

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