Carnegie Mellon University

The Campus Race to Zero Waste (CR2ZW) is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an 8-week period, CMU tracks the weights of how much we throw out, how much food we donate, and how much we recycle. With the goal of increasing our diversion and recycling rates throughout the competition!

The 2024 competition is from January 28 - March 23. Want to be involved? Check out the schedule of events: 

During the 8 week competition there will be activities, events, and promotions to encourage the campus community to reduce their race. Check back here or follow the @CMUGreenPractices Instagram page for updates and event details. 

While the competition is just 8 weeks each February and March, you can participate all year by consuming less, reusing more, and choosing to recycle or compost when you can. 

Choose to Reuse: No Sew Tote Bag Make and Take
January 31 and February 2, 2024 @3-5pm
Cohon University Center, first floor
Take a break and make a no-sew reusable bag out of an old t-shirt! Make one for yourself and/or make one for the CMU Food Pantry. Drop by anytime, it only takes a few minutes! Supplies will be provided or bring your own t-shirt. 

Trash Talk Thursday: Designing Sustainable Solutions @ CMU 
February 1, 2024 @3-4pm
The Nexus of Civic Engagement, CUC
Interested in sustainability, entrepreneurship, and design? Come chat with Tara and Emma, two seniors (one studying design and the other math+cs) who created Thrifty Mellon, CMU's first on-campus thrift store. Learn about what it takes to design and create a sustainable solution here at CMU, build a community around a shared experience, and connect with us to get advice about your own ideas and solutions. 

Fix-it Fair: Mending Workshop
February 6, 2024 @3-6pm
Sustainability Studio, main floor of Hunt Library
Do you have shirts missing buttons or pants that need hemmed? Don't throw them out... bring them to the Fix-it Fair! We'll have menders available to help you repair your items and make them good as new. Don't have anything needing repairing , but want to learn? Stop by to learn a few new mending skills.

Compost Captain Training
February 12 @5-6pm
February 24 @3:30-4:30pm
Interested in helping the environment and earning service hours? Become a Compost Captain! After a comprehensive one hour training, Compost Captains will stand with partners at waste bins around campus and educate CMU community members on how to sort their waste, decreasing the amount of recyclable/ compostable goods CMU sends to landfills. Open to anyone in CMU community. Refreshments will be provided, RSVP required, follow to sign up!

Upcycled Valentine Make and Take
February 13  @1:30 - 3:30pm
Sustainability Studio, main floor of Hunt Library
Join us for a unique twist on gift-giving! Craft eco-friendly treasures with us - upcycled wonders that use items destined for the landfill, transformed into works of art that speak volumes of your love. Dive into creativity, make memories, and celebrate a sustainable Valentine's Day with us!

Trash Sort Challenge
February 19-23, 2024 at various times
Cohon University Center
Test your knowledge with our Trash Sort Game! Stop by the table in the CUC to play a fun game, pick up some great swag to help reduce waste, and learn about upcoming CR2ZW events.  

Scrap-A-Thon Interest Session
February 19, 2024 @6-7pm
Sustainability Studio, main floor of Hunt Library
The Scrap-a-Thon event is a modified make-a-thon where all the provided materials are scavenged from the different Maker Spaces across campus. It is a competition in which teams of 3-5 create something using only scraps. The build will take place from March 14th - 18th with the final showcase on the 18th. Stop by to learn more about our Scrap-a-Thon and how you can get involved! 

Trash Talk Thursday: Root to Stem Cooking Demo
February 29, 2024 @11am - 1pm
Cohon University Center, Wean Commons
Join Chartwells@CMU as they showcase root-to-stem cooking with a vegetable sirt-fry with pesto and scratch-made veggie stock. Learn how to make delicious food from the trim waste (stems, leaves, etc) that you usually throw out. Drop by for recipes and free samples.

Waste Time with @CMUGreenPractices 
March 4-8, 2024 at various times
On the @CMUGreenPractices Instagram page
Follow along for daily trivia challenges and information about campus waste reduction!

Scrap-A-Thon Kick-off and Build
March 14-18, 2024
The Scrap-a-Thon event is a modified make-a-thon where all the provided materials are scavenged from the different Maker Spaces across campus. Teams of 3-5 will create something using only scraps. The competition begins on March 14 and building continues through the weekend. Register here

Scrap-A-Thon Showcase and Judging
March 18, 2024 @6-7pm
Sustainability Studio, main floor of Hunt Library
Join us to view the projects resulting from the Scrap-A-Thon and hear the winners announced. 

CUC Waste Audit
March 21, 2024 @9am-6pm
Merson Courtyard
CMU Green Practices has partnered with the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) to conduct a waste audit of 24 hours of waste thrown out in the CUC. A waste audit provides us insight into what is in our trash and how successful we are at choosing the correct waste stream bin. 

We're looking for volunteers! Volunteers will assist PRC staff with sorting the waste into various categories including recycling, food waste, plastics, etc. This is a fun and eye-opening experience! Sign up here

CR2ZW offers different levels of reporting for participation in the 8-week competition. CMU will compete in national competitions in the following categories:

  • Diversion Category - the school with the highest waste diversion percentage. Diversion is determined by the percentage of the total weight of recyclables and food organics diverted from total waste generated.
  • Stephen K Gaski Per Capita Classic - the school that collects the largest combined amount of paper, cardboard, and bottles and cans on a per person basis.
  • Food Organics - points are awarded for food waste minimization activities and the amount of food that is diverted from the landfill.
There are also special, one-time reporting categories. CMU often competes in the national Case Study Competition, where schools share their best practices in promoting and improving recycling and waste reduction on campus.

Visit for more information about the national competition.

2023 CR2ZW Results

During the 2023 8-week competition, CMU recycled 46.0 tons and donated or composted 19.9 tons of food.

2023-cr2zw-results.jpg     2023-cr2zw-total-recycling.jpg

2022 CR2ZW Results

Carnegie Mellon was a winner in the Waste Minimization category of the 2022 Case Study Competition!

During the 2022 8-week competition, CMU recycled 36.9 tons and donated or composted 46.1 tons of food.