Student Health Center reaches nearly 70 percent waste reduction rate

September 28, 2012

Penn State's Student Health Center recently received the results of a University waste audit. Out of a total of 477 pounds, the facility recycled/composted an average of more than 69 percent, diverting this waste from landfills. According to Al Matyasovsky, supervisor of central support services in the Office of Physical Plant, the University Park campus waste diversion potential is 88 percent.

"We have achieved this number at a few special events such as the Quarterback Club luncheon and Shaver's Creek," Matyasovsky said. "However, campus buildings face greater challenges in capturing a wide range of waste. A diversion rate above 60 percent has only been achieved three times in the history of Penn State."

"The Student Health Center is an example of what committed people with the will and desire to make a difference can do. The staff are inspirational," added Matyasovsky.

"Diversion rates in medical facilities generally have a long way to go," added Doris Guanowsky, senior associate director in university health services (UHS) and chair of the Student Health Center Green Team. "With the amount of packaging present in health care settings, the potential for recycling and composting is much higher than the rates generally achieved. UHS is always looking for ways to provide health care in a more sustainable way."

According to the Green Guide for Health Care ( a 36 percent diversion rate is considered exemplary.

The Student Health Center Green Team has initiated a number of sustainability initiatives, including building-wide composting and waste stream diversion through partnerships with the Office of Physical Plant and outside recycling vendors. Initiatives such as composting wet paper towels in all restrooms and recycling nonbiohazard  exam table paper have made large reductions in building waste headed for landfills. Staff in each department have identified common packaging materials unique to their areas and additional recycling collection captures these items before they enter the waste stream.  The building also participates in composting of food and beverage waste.

Each department within University Health Services (UHS) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has achieved Green Paws certification through the Penn State Office of Sustainability. Information about the Green Paws program is available at

For additional information about green efforts within Student Affairs, including the Student Health Center, visit University-wide resources to improve sustainability efforts can be found at

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 19, 2017