Minimizing waste contributes to a more sustainable Stanford in many ways. By using less, reusing more, recycling and composting, Stanford can preserve land, save energy, conserve water, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve natural resources. The university partners with Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc. (PSSI), its recycling and waste management service provider, to reduce waste, increase landfill diversion, and move closer to zero waste (defined as at least 90% diversion).
Stanford has increased its landfill diversion rate from 30% in 1994 to 65% in 2015, with the goal of reaching 75% by 2020. The university is continually improving collection activities, identifying new markets for waste materials and recyclables, and raising awareness so that “reduce, reuse, recycle and compost” becomes habit. To do this, the university has implemented the Deskside Paper Recycling and Mini–Trash Can Program, which has been expanded to more than 80 buildings this year. More than 120 individuals are participating in the Voluntary Compost Program, which enables individuals to collect food and other compostable materials from break rooms and kitchens within their building or department and take them to nearby compostable-collection bins. In addition, the Customer Funded Compostables Collection Program launched this year, enabling composting at a building-wide level.
PSSI regularly partners with staff and student groups to conduct waste audits across campus. These events offer the campus community an experiential learning opportunity while providing valuable data to PSSI about the content of campus landfill bins. These audits help Stanford to focus its programs for the most significant results.