Each spring, 10,000 students move out of the University of Michigan's (U-M) 15 residence halls, leaving behind items such as clothing, food, toiletries, household materials, furniture, and loft-wood/lumber. During move-out week, U-M Grounds & Waste Management Services and the Housing Division divert up to 20 percent of the waste stream from landfill disposal by collecting reusable items and directing them to local charitable organizations.


Applicable Regulations


Overview of Procedure
The student move-out program is sponsored by the University Housing Division and U-M Grounds & Waste Management Services. The Resident Assistants are responsible to educate the students on move-out procedures, of which the "Take It or Leave It" program is a part. Signs and posters are also posted in the dormitories to inform students of the program. Students place unwanted items into two designated areas. The unwanted items are then donated to charitable organizations.


Waste Minimization Procedure
Collection boxes for food, toiletries, clothing, and household items are set up inside residence hall lobbies and lounges. The boxes are clearly labeled with instructions on what items are acceptable. U-M Grounds & Waste Management Services coordinates the collection and distribution of items to charitable organizations such as food banks and homeless shelters.

Unwanted bulky items including carpets, loft wood, lumber, and furniture are placed in "Take It or Leave It" areas outside each residence hall's loading dock area. These items are made available to charitable organizations.


Known Limitations
Some items are simply too worn or damaged to be donated and must be sent to the landfill for disposal.


Safety & Health Precautions/Personal Protective Equipment
Not applicable.


More than 20 percent of potential landfill waste is diverted during Move-Out Week. Over the past five years, the effort has annually donated 6.5 tons of materials including: 4.2 tons of clothing, 1.2 tons of food and toiletries, and 1 ton of household items.

During Move-Out Week alone, 20 tons of scrap and loft wood are recovered and turned into chips for landscaping and industrial furnace fuel, and over 50 tons of mixed office paper, cardboard, newspapers, cans, and bottles are collected for recycling.


Extra labor is required to collect donated items, but this is offset by the "avoided disposal costs" of the project.


Project Related Costs
Information not available.