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by C.J.

Commencement is a big deal, period, full stop. The speeches, the crying, the tearful last-minute hugs on the sun-basked hill before grad school and the working world all make for an unforgettable day. And don’t forget the senior luncheon: feeding over 10,000 people is no small matter. But what about processing the refuse and waste from that 10,000? If you were at Commencement this year, you probably saw us working away to make this Commencement as green as the Prez Lawn itself.

How successful were we? We processed 5000 boxed-lunch meals in about three hours, exhausting roughly 100 man hours for all workers combined. We were left with 500 pounds  of food waste and one (1) 30 yard rolloff of mixed recyclables, as well as a negligible amount of trash. Click here for pictures.

Attendees were served a boxed lunch, composed of cardboard, plastic, and nonrecyclable components.

The team utilized four types of bins: cardboard and paper, commingled plastics (water and soda bottles, food containers, plastic silverware), compost (food, plates, and napkins), and, finally, trash (everything else).

The boxes themselves were somewhat tricky to process because of their different components. In the future, we hope to work with Tufts Dining and the Office of Sustainability to implement a different box design or a buffet-style luncheon.

To combat the tricky boxes, TuftsRecycles! interns manned seven stations across the lawn to ensure all waste was properly separated.

By day’s end we had successfully processed all waste produced by Commencement! Pictured above is the fruits of our labor: clear bags are recyclables, black bags are trash. (Compost was collected separately.)

Many thanks to everyone involved for making Commencement nearly 100% sustainable!

Also, congratulations to our own intern Danielle Cotter, who graduated at this year’s Commencement. She leaves us as one of our most beloved interns and will be dearly missed by everyone at the TuftsRecycles! team!