Emory University announced a new waste management partnership with Goodr on Nov. 16, a compost and landfill company that also serves Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the Georgia World Congress Center. 

Chief Climate Change Officer and Associate Vice President Ciannet Howett said she hopes the partnership will help achieve the University’s goal of zero landfill waste. For the remainder of the year, Emory and Goodr will work together on further diversion efforts of Emory’s waste streams, namely, recycling matters for food recovery and reporting where waste streams are diverted. 

Howett also noted  the company is woman and Black-owned, which aligns with Emory’s partnership with the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative aimed at eliminating Atlanta’s racial wealth gap.

Graphic by Mia Usman

Since the partnership started, Emory has reinstituted composting in dining kitchens and laboratory animal bedding, Howett said. The University also added more green compost bins outdoors and in buildings across the campus and instructions have been posted to aid students and faculty in proper disposal of waste.

“The Goodr tracking app for Emory shows: 161,040 lbs. diverted from landfill resulting in 188,315 lbs of CO2 emissions prevented,” Howett said. 

Emory has sought to achieve its landfill diversion goals through a variety of new programs and initiatives, including the Emory Waste Policy, the Sustainability Vision and Strategic Plan and the Sustainable Events Program. Additionally, student-run groups like the Emory Climate Reality Project aim to aid Emory’s goals to divert 95% of waste from landfills by 2025.

“We understand that work on Emory’s sustainability goals may have been limited by the pandemic, so we are excited by the reestablishment of a composter contract,” Emory Climate Reality Project President Claire McLarty said. We are running a climate action campaign that depends on Emory’s commitment to sustainability if it is to be successful.”

ECRP has worked closely with other climate-focused student groups to initiate changes at Emory. Most recently, they led a climate strike on Sept. 24 urging the University to revise its net zero carbon goal to earlier than its current 2050 target and join the Race to Zero Campaign.  

After University President Gregory Fenves approved these demands, Plastic Free Emory, a student organization focused on reducing plastic waste, hosted a event called “The Plastival” to celebrate and discuss further action. 

McLarty said that while she is excited about the new partnership, she still wants “to continue to hold Emory accountable to climate action.”

“This partnership must not provide an excuse for Emory to relent on pursuing other climate solutions,” McLarty said. “The most climate-friendly option is always to stop food waste at its source, as once the waste is produced, it inevitably generates emissions no matter where it ends up.”