2021 Results

During the 2021 Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition:

  • 2.9 million students and staff were reached from more than 200 colleges and universities. 
  • 230 million plastic containers were kept out of the landfill.
  • Campuses prevented the release of 30,669 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere, equivalent to preventing annual emissions from 6,463 cars.
  • 25.8 million pounds of waste was donated, recycled and composted. 

Top-Ranking Campuses

Zero Waste category:

  • Kent State University at Kent, Ohio (*only one campus was awarded in this category because all participating campuses were large campuses.

Food Organics category:

  • Small campus – Macalester College, Minnesota
  • Medium campus – University of North Carolina Asheville, North Carolina
  • Large campus – University of California Irvine, California

Diversion category:

  • Small campus – Macalester College, Minnesota
  • Medium campus – Seattle University, Washington
  • Large campus – Grand Valley State University, Michigan

Per Capita category:

  • Small campus – Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island
  • Medium campus – Wilkes University, Pennsylvania
  • Large campus – Stanford University, California

Race to Zero Waste – One Building challenge:

  • Aquinas College, Michigan

Electronics Recycling category:

  • Per Capita category – Southwestern College, Kansas
  • Total Pounds Recycled category – Kent State University at Kent, Ohio

Note: College and university size categories based on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Case Study category:

Waste Minimization Winner: Lehigh University  – Reduces the use of, and waste from, disposable clamshell take-out containers on campus through its ecocontainer effort.

Food Waste Reduction: Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis – Launches Riverwalk Composting Pilot Program, a student‐led initiative focused on empowering residents at Riverwalk Apartments to compost their food waste.

Education and Awareness:

  • Dallas College – Promotes zero waste with an online Zero Waste Education Hub, and modeled Zero Waste Practices in Arts, Construction and Public Health.
  • Towson University (receives an Honorable Mention) – Hosts social media education and awareness campaigns focused on waste reduction and avoidance best practices, with an emphasis on food waste and wasted food.

Summary of Waste Reduction Efforts: Kent State University at Kent (Ohio) – Focuses on food insecurity and food waste diversion, summarizing efforts since 2011.

Communication and Outreach Materials:

Please contact CR2Zw@nwf.org with any questions. 


2021 National Rankings

2021 Special Categories

2021 Competition Reports

2021 Carnegie Classifications