Cardinal Green


Throughout February and March, Stanford competes against 400+ colleges and universities across the country in an effort to waste less, and recycle and compost more. During the competition, Stanford reports recycling and trash tonnage, and is then ranked among all participating colleges and universities. The effort offers an opportunity to engage the campus in waste reduction efforts, especially as the university is focused on meeting the California state target of 75% waste diversion by 2020. While Stanford has historically performed well in the competition, the campus diversion rate has hovered around 65% for a few years now, so meeting this goal will take everyone pitching in to put their waste in the right bin!

Get Involved

1. Pledge to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Compost!

During RecycleMania, commit to your campus environment and pledge to recycle and compost more and make less waste! Stanford competes against more than 450 colleges and universities to reduce waste on campus. Every person who pledges to make less waste is entered into our RecycleMania gift card raffle!

2. Attend a RecycleMania Event

During RecycleMania, find Cardinal Green representatives across campus and learn about different ways to reduce waste in your daily life, and more about some of Stanford's strategies on the path to zero waste! You can take a tour of the Stanford Recycling Center, have all your questions about confusing items answered in a waste training, or show your Cardinal Green spirit at a sustainability game day challenge. You CAN be the difference!

3. Become a Sustainability Leader in Your Workplace

Interested in learning more about how to reduce your waste impact and be a leader in your workplace? Offered during RecycleMania, Office of Sustainability's "Best Practices in Waste Reduction" training course provides a hands-on lesson in responsible waste management. Class participants will learn how to recognize opportunities to improve waste reduction and how to implement them in their work space.

If you have 10 or more people interested in the course, we can work with you to schedule a private training for your office, dorm or group meeting! Send an e-mail to inquire.


What’s in it for you?

Throughout the duration of the competition, everyone who takes the pledge will be entered to win one of several $50 gift cards. As well, the collective efforts help the university achieve national recognition for its waste reduction efforts and position Stanford as a leader in sustainability initiatives.

Recyclemania Background and Results

During the last 30 years, Stanford has increased waste diversion to 65 percent by recycling paper, bottles and cans, yard trimmings, food scraps, wood, and construction and demolition debris. Stanford has also reduced the amount of waste sent to the landfill. In 1998, Stanford landfilled about 14,000 tons of trash. By 2014, Stanford reduced that number to around 8,350 tons.

Stanford performed 28 waste audits over the past two years and discovered interesting results. By weight, the trash dumpsters audited contained the following:

  • 7 percent aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass jars
  • 17 percent office paper and paper packaging
  • 1 percent film plastic
  • 3 percent metals
  • 1 percent e-waste
  • 4 percent wood and construction/demolition
  • 4 percent reusables
  • 31 percent organics: food scraps and compostable service ware
  • 1 percent toilet paper rolls (½ full)
  • 7 percent paper towels
  • 0 percent styrofoam
  • 24 percent real trash

If Stanford recycled all aluminum cans, plastics bottles, glass jars, office paper, and paper packaging, another 385 tons could be added to the university’s recycling total during RecycleMania!

Stanford’s RecycleMania results have been consistently strong, and 2016 proved no different. The table below provides a snapshot of Stanford’s performance in four of the most fiercely competitive categories.

RecycleMania Tips

  • Reduce – Reduce the amount of waste you generate - whether
  • Reuse – Use reusable plates, cups, and utensils when it's unnecessary packaging or uneaten food from the dining hall. Use less!
  • possible.
  • Recycle – Recycle all cardboard, paper, plastics, metal and glass. Plastic bags, air pillows, and bubble wrap can be placed in the paper recycling bins. (Check out the Zero Waste flyer for recycling guidelines)
  • Rot – Compost all coffee grounds, food scraps, and BPI-certified compostable service ware. (Check out our How to Guides for voluntary composting and Café composting programs to add “Rot” to your building’s sustainability checklist)
  • Rebuy – Buy recycled or repurposed products when necessary and possible. Check out Stanford Surplus Property Sales, Reuse Portal, and for labs – the Surplus Chemical Program)