First-year College students eat their meals in the historic Annenberg Dining Hall, immersing them in the Harvard’s history from day one. A reusable mug program and efforts to cut down on food waste also greet those same students on day one, introducing them to Harvard’s commitment to sustainability.

The hard work of students and staff to reduce waste in Annenberg were recognized Tuesday with a 2012 Recycling Award in the Institution category at MassRecycle’s 17th annual recycling award ceremony.

The award specifically recognized several programs run by the student Resource Efficiency Program (REP) in partnership with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Office for Sustainability, Harvard University Dining Services, and the Recycling and Waste department within Campus Services. The annual distribution of 1,200 reusable mugs to incoming first-year students includes a pledge by students to use their mug throughout the year. To support the effort, HUDS provides a “mug tree” where students can keep their reusable mugs in between meals after they have been washed by dining hall staff. HUDS and REP have also partnered to reduce food waste through composting and a “Clean Plate Club” campaign.

All of Harvard’s Schools have adopted extensive programs to reduce waste. At the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, freecycle events promote reuse of materials and the electronic waste recycling has been expanded to more than 40 locations across campus. Departments throughout Harvard regularly host zero-waste events and in the past five years Harvard Athletics has expanded recycling at events, including football games.