Cardinal Green


In this annual February-March waste reduction competition, Stanford joins over 300 other campuses across the country in a challenge to reduce waste and maximize recycling and composting. With a statewide goal to divert 75% of all waste from the landfill by 2020 (Stanford currently lags behind at 63%), we need everyone to pitch in to help Stanford win!

During the competition, Stanford asked everyone to Waste Less, Make More! More compost, recycling, reuse, and education! Events encouraged the community to learn about what actually happens when we throw things "away" on campus. 


While RecycleMania may be over for now, you can stay involved throughout the year:

1. Sign into My Cardinal Green for a complete list of waste reduction actions, and earn rewards

Whether you attend a tour, take a training, or commit to reducing your trash for the week, you'll earn points for conserving resources and advancing campus sustainability.

2. Attend an Event

Sustainable Stanford has events, tours, trainings, and educational activities throughout the year. 

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? 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.

Recyclemania Background and Results

Over the last 30 years, Stanford has increased waste diversion to 63 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 has performed more than 28 waste audits over the past several years, with 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 2018 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. Try to limit single-use disposable items like coffee cups and snack packaging.
  • Reuse – Use reusable plates, cups, and utensils when it's unnecessary packaging or uneaten food from the dining hall. 
  • 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