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Stanford’s long history of minimizing waste began with a student-led recycling program in the early 1970s. Since then, a partnership with recycling and waste hauler Peninsula Sanitary Services, Inc. (PSSI) has resulted in a robust program to reduce waste and manage the campus’ reusable resources. Today, year-round efforts to use less, reuse more, and increase recycling and composting helps Stanford conserve energy, reduce landfilled materials, and conserve natural resources by providing recyclable materials to manufacturers,– all while cutting greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

Stanford’s landfill diversion rate, also referred to as its recycling rate, has increased from 30% in 1994 to 63% in 2017. The university aims to reach the state’s diversion target of 75% by 2020. Efforts to minimize waste have significantly reduced the amount of material Stanford sends to the landfill: 8,190 tons in 2017, compared to its peak of 14,000 tons in 1998. Learn more about ongoing initiatives


View the 2017-18 Sustainability Year in Review for more in-depth data on Stanford's diversion rate over time-->


  • The Deskside Paper Recycling and Mini–Trash Can Program expanded into 102 buildings, with 8,720 total sets of bins and Zero Waste Guidelines delivered. This program continues to be extended into existing and new academic buildings becoming the campus standard.
  • Departments have funded 99 compost collection points through the Customer-Funded Compostables Collection Program, launched in July 2015. The Voluntary Compost Program increased participation to over 264 volunteers collecting food and other compostable materials from common spaces to bring to collection bins.
  • Over 700 people were trained on best waste sorting, recycling, and composting practices through waste reduction classes, café staff trainings, and custodial trainings. Other outreach efforts included ten campus tabling events and ten tours of the Stanford Recycling Center.
  • Stanford Surplus Sales’ furniture reutilization program helps departments avoid landfill fees and contributes to university sustainability goals by collecting and selling unwanted furniture and equipment at discounted prices. The program successfully diverted approximately 117 tons of furniture from landfill in 2017-18, including 89 tons of furniture donated from the Escondido Village Graduate Residence project.
  • Stanford Surplus Sales collected and processed 129.6 tons of electronic waste in 2017-18, ensuring the material was appropriately recycled within the state of California.
  • Three Sustainability Game Day Challenges were hosted in partnership with the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation. Game Days resulted in an 8-24% increase in waste diversion rates from the prior year, thanks to increased composting infrastructure, food donation programs, student participation, and fan outreach and engagement.