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Waste & Procurement

To protect and regenerate natural resources, there is a collective need to shift from a linear to a circular economy by extending product lifecycles – keeping products and materials in circulation for as long as possible and continuously minimizing waste.

The Waste and Procurement Program Area focuses on sustainable procurement and on-campus waste reduction and diversion. Procurement plays a foundational role in reducing waste, pollution, and carbon emissions, while also providing the opportunity to address diversity, equity, and inclusion through supporting local and diverse businesses.

Northwestern will enhance its purchasing policy to prioritize and track environmentally and socially sustainable goods, food, and services. This will involve minimizing single-use items (i.e. disposable water bottles, utensils, single-use packaging) to prevent waste before it occurs as well as focusing on recovery and diversion of food, organics, furniture, equipment and other products and services.


Northwestern’s goal is to implement a cohesive campus-wide approach to reduce waste and enable more sustainable procurement.

Actions in Progress

  • on-track

    Update current purchasing policy to underscore sustainable, local, and diverse [1] vendors for goods and services on campus.

  • on-track

    Enhance programs that prioritize purchasing more organic, sustainable, plant forward, local, and diverse suppliers in retail, dining, and catering.

  • on-track

    Prioritize use of reusables across University operations, including food services, retail, dining, and catering.

  • on-track

    Ensure composting of non-recoverable food waste is established across all food service operations.

  • on-track

    Enhance food rescue and redistribution programs to benefit the surrounding community.

What You Can Do

Get Involved

Rally your friends and colleagues, and help us make sustainable living a part of our campus culture. Visit the Take Action page to learn about ways to get started.

Take Action

[1] Diverse businesses refer to minority-owned, women-owned, and/or disabled veteran business enterprises.