Stanford began partnering with recycling and waste management service provider Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc. (PSSI) in the early 1990s to reduce waste, increase landfill diversion, and move closer to zero waste (defined as at least 90% diversion). Stanford’s waste reduction, recycling, composting, and solid waste program serves all academic and athletic areas, Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE), Faculty Staff Housing, Stanford University School of Medicine, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and all associated construction sites. PSSI also works with campus elementary schools and preschools on zero waste outreach, trainings, and a compost program to collect food scraps and paper towels.
The university continually improves and expands recycling and composting collection activities, identifies new markets for waste materials and recyclables, and raises awareness so that reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting become an ingrained set of behaviors.
Students employed in the Sustainable Stanford Internship Program work on projects that evaluate and recommend waste reduction options for events and campus cafés, assess recycling and composting in campus departments, improve lab recycling, research recycling processes and densities, increase paper towel composting, and expand community center recycling and composting efforts.
Student-run organization Students for a Sustainable Stanford help to reduce campus food waste throughout the year, through programs like Stanford Food Recovery (SFR). Other student initiatives include developing guidelines for greening student events, a dining hall food donation program, training students in the residence halls how to properly sort their waste, and an annual Zero Waste Week.