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Sustainability & Recycling - History

Sustainability is the focus of our efforts right now but the MUSC recycling program has been around for over 15 years and has a long list of accomplishments. For more information on the Sustainability Program at MUSC, call 2-4066 or email
Here are some of our recent a

2014 Recycling Numbers

2013 Recycling Numbers

click here for pdf of 2013 highlights (2-page document)

recycled statistics

Completed Sustainable projects:

  • First LEED building (Bio Engineering Building) has earned GOLD certification!
  • Geothermal system installed in Anderson House
  • Heat Wheel installed in Harborview Tower
  • Recycling truck converted to run on Bio-diesel
  • Plug-in stations installed for Emergency vehicles
  • Plug-in station for EV charging
  • Over 1K employees commute daily on CARTA Park and Ride Express bus routes
  • Chemical management policies are in place
  • All fluorescent tubes on campus have been replaced by reduced mercury lamps
  • Mercury thermometers have been eliminated
  • Eco-Friendly Grounds: Pest Control (IPM), organic fertilizer and indigenous landscaping
  • 2.8 million pounds were recycled
  • 47,000 lbs of chemical related waste were burned for fuel
  • Achieved $335,000 savings on the Medical Center landfill user fee since 1994
  • Top 10 in two categories of Recyclemania 2012: office paper and cardboard
  • MUSC’s recycling program handled 27% of the institution’s FY12 Total Solid Waste

Timeline: 2000-2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010 - 2011 - 2012

  • 1991: The Aluminum Cans for Burned Children Program started. Volunteers were assigned specific boxes to take care of. All money collected from this recycling program pays for non-medical items essential to the recovery of pediatric burn patients at MUSC. ACBC funds have also been used to build mobile fire-safety houses for fire and burn prevention education. 
  • 1992: The recycling committee was formed and had its first meeting on April 7th. The committee tackled questions like what to recycle, how to recycle, and where to take the commodities collected. Once these questions were answered the committee bought recycling bins for offices, set a training schedule, and set a date for the kick-off party.
  • 1993: The kick-off party was set for Jan 15. The MUSC recycling logo was created in a contest and Dr. Recycle made his debut. Aluminum and scrap metal recycling was joined by cardboard, phone books, and office paper. University housekeeping and hospital environmental services collected paper from desk side bins and put it in 30 yard containers donated by Walmart. A baler for cardboard was brought online in the hospital. MUSC went from recycling 4 tons in three months to recycling 20 tons in three months.  Recycling rate is 1.4%.
  • 1994: Some ACBC volunteers left the university and cans bins were being neglected. The paper recycling program ceased to progress and took on a status quo effect. There were still some very good recyclers out there who managed to recycle over 110 tons for the 93-94 fiscal year.  Recycling rate is 2.0%.

  • 1995: In March, MUSC hired the first full time recycling coordinator. In June, the first Recycling Assistant was hired. By the end of the year, we were recycling in 18 buildings on campus.  Yard waste, paint, newspaper, books, magazines, six-pack rings, ni-cad batteries, lead-acid batteries, plastic, glass, and steel were all added to the list of recyclables. MUSC recycled over 175 tons for 94-95 fiscal year.  Recycling rate is 4.1%.

  • 1996: The recycling office teamed with the legal office to achieve a refund of $28,700 on the user fee bill for 1994 and we saved $34,250 on the 1995 bill due to better record keeping by the recycling program.  Scrap metal was added to the list of recyclables.  By the end of the year, we were recycling in 29 buildings on campus.  We were awarded the Best Collegiate Recycling Award from the South Carolina Clean and Beautiful Organization.  Recycling rate is 10.8%.

  • 1997: A $25,580 grant was received from the Department of Health and Environmental Control Division of Solid Waste Management.  The state negotiated with the county to reduce the user fee bill by 25% for a savings of $49,198.  The second recycling assistant was hired in March and the third assistant in May.  By the end of the year, we were recycling in 47 buildings on campus.  We were awarded the Best Collegiate Recycling Award from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.  Recycling rate is 10.3%.
  • 1998: A $20,000 grant was received from the Department of Health and Environmental Control Division of Solid Waste Management.  The state received another 25% reduction in the user fee bill for a savings of $56,614.  By the end of the year, we were recycling in 64 buildings on campus.  We added pallets and paint to our recyclables list.  We were awarded the Spotlight Award for Excellence in Waste Reduction and Recycling from the Carolina Recycling Association.  Recycling rate is 12.4%.
  • 1999:  We received a $15,000 grant from the Department of Health and Environmental Control Division of Solid Waste Management, a $7,000 demonstration contract from the State Energy Office, and a grant of $15,000 from the Sustainable Universities Initiative to start a new waste reduction program which employs worms.  Please visit the vermicompost page for more information.    We added 4 new buildings to our collection schedule and   a new cardboard baler at the Harper Student Center.  Recycling rate is 13.6%.
  • 2000:   We started this year with a press release on the vermicomposting program.   We were featured in an article in the Post and Courier, The State Paper, The Sun News, and the Charlotte Observer.  The program has also been featured in the State Energy Office Newsletter The Energy Connection, the Department of Health and Environmental Control Division of Solid Waste Management South Carolina Recycles Magazine, The Medical University of South Carolina's annual report, the Prudential Charleston Region Newsletter, and the Medical University of South Carolina Division of Finance and Administration Newsletter.  We received a $10,000 grant from the Department of Health and Environmental Control Division of Solid Waste Management to purchase a chipper/shredder and 90 gallon cart dumper.  The grounds crew will use the chipper/shredder to mulch limbs and leaves for the campus.  We put out over 100 new recycling bins and added 7 new buildings to our collection schedule. Recycling rate is 16%.
  • 2001: In December 2000, we reduced our staff from 4 and a half to three and a half. Instead of dumping all our office paper into dumpsters we set up 4 stations to house our full 90 gallon carts. A contractor would empty these carts at these locations. This move cut our expenses dramatically. We then added a plastic, glass and steel recycling program to our list of recycling duties.  Charleston County Recycling placed a container on campus for storage and transportation of these recyclables.  The duty of making sure the non-hazardous waste oil was recycled was also added to our repertoire. In August, we added a new program to collect nickel cadmium, lithium ion, and nickel metal hydride batteries. We received a $10,000 grant from the Department of Health and Environmental Control Division of Solid Waste Management to purchase 8-8 yard cardboard recycling containers like the ones you see at fast food restaurants with the slit in them, and more recycling bins to help us help you recycle.   Recycling rate is 20%. Catalyst article
  • 2002: We started the year with a 3.7% cut in State funding.  The Recycling Coordinator received the Quest for Excellence First Mate Award from the MUSC Division of Finance and Administration for the fourth quarter of 2001.  A fair amount of time was spent on rewriting and bidding the solid waste contract which was awarded to a new company in April and 24 dumpsters on campus were switched out.  We started the year with low cardboard prices.  The price of cardboard really hurt our recycling efforts.  Toward the end of the year we found market options more favorable, prices and the amount of cardboard recycled were on the rise.  The 8 yard containers for cardboard were purchased and Charleston County started to service them on June 8.  This will free up 8 man hours and we will increase our plastic, glass, and steel collection service. MUSC recycled Quad C and D Buildings, Catalyst Article,  CRA Article. MUSC was featured in an EPA Best Practices for Healthcare Facilities Guide on Reuseable Totes, Blue Wrap and Composting.  In April, the State cut funding again by 2.52%.  Our staff was reduced to two full-time and two part-time employees in the fall of 2002.  Recycling rate is 21%. 


  • 2003:  In May, we started transporting all of our office paper to the warehouse on Arco Lane.  Once the paper is there it is emptied from 90 gallon carts into gaylord boxes and stored.  Twice a month the Department of Corrections sends an 18 wheel trailer to pick up the boxes.  All of the paper is then shredded and baled for recycling by DOC. The Hospital Authority started recycling disposable single use medical devises.  The grounds crew started corral composting in January. MUSC Recycling was very busy with publishing information to help other Colleges and Universities learn from our success or from the success of others.  Recycling and Beyond: A College Campus Primer written by MUSC Recycling Coordinator, Christine von Kolnitz and University of Oregon Recycling Coordinator, Karyn Kaplan was published on the internet.  MUSC was featured in an EPA web page "EPA Colleges and Universities Integrated Strategy"  Recycling rate is 26%.
  • 2005:  The MUSC recycling department received recognition in the form of an article in the Charleston Regional Business Journal.  The grounds crew took over the daily operation of the worm bin in November. MUSC wins EPA Waste Wise Award for Rookie Reporting and an honorable mention in the Collegiate Category.  The CRA Fall R Word announces MUSC EPA Waste Wise Award.  The MUSC Catalyst announced EPA Waste Wise Award.  Office paper recycling went confidential this year.  All office paper is now being handled securely and is being shredded.
2006:  This was the first year that MUSC participated in Recylemania, a 10-week long competition among Colleges and Universities around the country. Paper, cardboard and container waste was closely monitored during the 10-week period and totals were reported on a weekly basis. The purpose of this competition was to increase awareness of MUSC’s waste management and recycling efforts among staff and students in a fun and informal format. MUSC also joined a national program called call2recycle which encourages people to safely recycle old cell phones and portable rechargeable batteries. A box is provided to departments free of charge. Once filled, the box can be shipped to the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Cooperation (RBRC) in charge of keeping these toxic items out of our landfills. In April MUSC’s Shredding truck was purchased with funds generated by the recycling program and put into service. Confidentiality became more secure since the paper is shredded as soon as it is collected from the department and stored in the truck until full. The shredded paper is then emptied at Sonoco where it is baled and prepared for shipment to a paper recycling plant. MUSC became a “smoke-free” campus and designated areas  established for smokers.

2007: Campus-wide Lights Out campaign was launched. The goal of the campaign was to reduce MUSC’s carbon footprint by educating the MUSC community on global warming. In April, the Sustainability Program was created.  The President’s Climate Commitment was signed by Dr Greenberg and a sustainability Action Plan was drafted: it was presented to the Medical Center Communications team on April 20 and included an employee education program focused on the need to conserve energy, reduce waste, promote reuse and increase recycling on campus. In July, the FY06 recycling figures were recognized by an Award from the Outstanding College and University Waste Reduction/Recycling Program. MUSC recycled a record 27% of solid Waste in 2006-2007

  • MUSC Sustainability Program was featured on Wellness Wednesday:staff and students had an opportunity to ask questions and pick up free office supplies from the R.O.S.E. (Reusable Office Exchange) Program.
  • MUSC Green Team was created and met the third Thursday of every month
  • The February 1 issue of the Catalyst included a front page article about the first sustainable building on campus: College of Pharmacy’s Anderson House was renovated and outfitted with a Geothermal Heat Pump for Climate control.
  • MUSC Recycling program reached the Top 5 in three categories among the 200 schools that participated in the 2008 Recyclemania competition.
  • Commuter Bus ridership rose by almost 200%. To encourage carpooling, assigned parking became available in August for registered participants. A Farmer’s market took place in the horseshoe every Friday: several local vendors were invited and participated in this effort to buy local produce.
  • Research funded by the Sustainable Universities Initiative was successful:
  • Dr Michael Schmidt confirmed his hypothesis that Copper is effective in killing bacteria in the Operating Room 
  • Dr May discovered an alternative energy source in Microbial Based Fuel Cells
  • Recycling truck was outfitted to run on Bio-Fuel
  • MUSC was one of the recipients of the Environmental Justice Achievement Award
  • 28% of Solid waste was recycled in 2007-2008


  • Energy Performance Contract was signed and implementation began with the new year: all toilets were changed reducing 2 gallons from every flush,aereators were installed on all faucets to further reduce water consumption. All light fixtures were changed to low mercury lights and work began on the boilers and steam projects. Read more...
  • On Jan 18, MUSC joined the RecycleManiacs for another ten-week competition finishing in the top 25 contestants among 514 registered schools in Corrugated Cardboard and the top 30 in the recycled paper category.
  • on Jan 29, MUSC's Anderson House wins the Preservation Society of Charleston Award - the renovation included the first geo-thermal heating and cooling unit on campus. Read more...
  • On Mar 3, The MUSC Recycling Program was recognized by DHEC with an award for the Outstanding College and University Waste Reduction and Recycling Program.
  • On April 28 MUSC Celebrated Earth Day with a Green Day festival. Over 30 vendors and approximately 1,000 people attended the event.
  • July saw the groundbreaking ceremony for MUSC's first LEED certified building: the Bioengineering Building which will be home to several labs, classrooms and a large auditorium.
  • on November 9-13 Sustainability Awareness Week was very instructive
  • 25% of Solid Waste was recycled in 2009


  • Work continues on the Energy Performance Contract: 49,000 light fixtures have been replaced for energy efficient ones, 1815 low flush toilets have been installed along with 211 urinals and 2571 flow restrictors. Automatic lighting and HVAC controls and elimination. For more information click here
  • This year MUSC placed third in the paper recycling category and ranked 10th in the corrugated cardboard category among over 600 registered colleges and universities during the annual RecycleMania ten-week competition.
  • On April 20th, MUSC’s Earth Day celebration featured over 60 vendors who presented their green products and services to the over 2000 MUSC attendees. Click here for a presentation and pictures of the event.
  • The Microbial Fuel Cell research project headed by Dr Harold May was awarded $2.3 million in federal funding: the project is now housed in the SCRA (South Carolina Research Authority) MUSC Innovation Center located at 645 Meeting Street.  This facility will provide the support that the project needs to commercialize this renewable fuel source.
  • Recycling made a grand debut at the graduation ceremonies on May 17, 2010. The commencement guide included location of recycling bins and an announcement was made by MUSC’s President reminding attendees to place their unwanted programs and water bottles in the appropriate containers.
  • The Sustainability Pledge was created to provide an opportunity for students, staff and faculty to make a commitment to participate in MUSC’s effort to become a more sustainable campus. A link to the Pledge is available on the Sustainability and Recycling homepage. 
  • 27% of Solid Waste was recycled in 2010
  • In 2011 MUSC received two awards: the DHEC Earth Day award and the Community Pride citizen award; see details here
  • Recycling plastics from the OR began: containers were provided for each of the 19 procedure rooms and OR staff was instructed to collect the plastic in a designated container in the soiled utility room where we have access.
  • This year MUSC placed 9th in the paper recycling category and ranked 18th in the corrugated cardboard category among over 600 registered colleges and universities during the annual RecycleMania ten-week competition.
  • MUSC celebrated America Recycles Day on Nov 15th with a Clinics Recycle day. The focus of this year's educational effort was to create awareness of recycling in general: a free gift was offered to all those who brought an unusual item, one that was not being recycled already; click here for photos of the event

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  • Urban Garden was planted in March 2012 after asphalt was removed from parking lot at the corner of President and Bee streets; see pictures of the farm
  • Arboretum designation is sought: we planted three native pines tres on April 27, inventory of trees revealed that we have over 3,000 trees, 66 species and about 300 are native. The goal is to increase the diversity while emphasizing native plantings; click here for more info on Grounds
  • MUSC received the Green Business Pioneer Award on Feb 8 from the City of Charleston in recognition of this institution's support of green practices.
  • This year MUSC placed seventh in the paper recycling category and ninth in the corrugated cardboard category among over 600 registered colleges and universities during the annual RecycleMania ten-week competition.
  • MUSC Dental School participated in the 2012 Green Business Challenge - a friendly competition among businesses in Charleston to encourage businesses to reduce waste, increase efficiency in energy and water consumption and reward green purchasing.
  • Earth Day was celebrated on April 22: it began with a Bike to Work day and bike registration opportunity. The whole day was a great success; see pictures here
  • We participated in 2012 Keep Charleston Beautiful Clean Cities Sweep by adopting several commuter parking lots;
  • We increased the amount of recycling collected at Graduation in May: 12 cases of water were sent to the Grounds department to keep workers hydrated during the hot weather, most of the programs were recovered and shredded and then recycled with our office paper and there were more bags of recycling than waste at the end of the ceremony.
  • Our second shredding truck came into operations to join our over-tasked first truck. we now shred paper in all MUSC satellite clinics as well as weekly shredding at Trident Technical College.
  • MUSC celebrated America Recycles Day on Nov 15th with a Clinics Recycle day. The focus of this educational effort was to create awareness of how toxic electronics can be to the environment if not disposed of properly: a free gift was offered to all those who brought an item of e-waste.


  • In FY13 MUSC recycled 500 tons of paper and 380 tons of cardboard and 446 tons of other recyclable items for a total of 1,342 tons or 2,684,580 pounds of recycling or 27% of our waste. New this year is food waste (47 tons in FY13) the pre-consumer food waste from the cafeteria is being collected on Sabin Street in special green totes and sent to Bee's Ferry Compost facility. A portion of the compost that is produced returns to our campus to enrich the soil on MUSC grounds.
  • We finished 2013 RecycleMania in the middle of the pack: our best results were in paper and cardboard followed by plastics, glass and metals.  The weekly Trivia question was a popular activity and brought many visitors to our site. The questions focused on our campus and helped increase awareness of current sustainable practices at MUSC.
  • MUSC was the recipient of the 2013 Stephanie Davis Waste Reduction Award in recognition of MUSC's efforts to "green" healthcare.
  • Community Pride presented two Captain Pride awards to MUSC: The Captain Pride award was presented to Grounds Department and to the Office of Health promotion and Sodexo our cafeteria operator. Community Pride, Inc. of Charleston County is a non-profit organization that promotes environmental stewardship among all citizens of Charleston County.
  • MUSC participated for a fourth year in the City of Charleston Green Business Challenge: The College of Dental Medicine continued their participation in an attempt to achieve the goals that had not bee attained in their first year. Sodexo joined the Challenge this year.
  • Earth Day was celebrated on April 16th in the horseshoe with over 60 vendors who displayed their green services, products, crafts and shared their love of the environment with our staff, students and faculty.
  • On April 26th, and in celebration of National Arbor Day, MUSC received Arboretum designation and Tree Campus USA certification. Focused on diversification with a special emphasis in planting native trees and plants, the grounds department has again surpassed itself in the beautification of our grounds: 55 trees were added this year alone! The Greenberg Greenway was dedicated in the summer in appreciation of Dr Greenberg's contribution to making MUSC a GREENER campus! Thank you Dr Greenberg, you are sorely missed!
  • America Recycles Day was celebrated on Nov 15th with great success. click here for pictures of our Green Events
  • South Carolina State Arbor Day was celebrated on December 5th vendors included tree landscape and garden service providers as well as suppliers. Local artists with a focus on trees, nature and wood were present as well as Bee Keepers!
  • The Medicinal Garden is providing us with a great educational tool on how to use herbs for healing.
  • The Butterfly garden is educating our community about the importance of creating and preserving special habitats for insects and birds.
  • The MUSC Urban Farm had a good harvest in 2013 which was shared with local organizations such as Ronal McDonald House and Crisis Ministries. Community members who helped plant, weed or harvest also partook of the bounty. 240 educational sessions were held at the Urban Farm in 2013

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