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Waste Initiatives

Stanford’s waste reduction efforts require participation from the entire campus community. A number of initiatives aim to engage the campus in achieving zero waste by using fewer disposable materials, and supporting campus recycling and composting efforts. Implementation of a Zero Waste Plan is underway with the aim of reaching zero waste90% diversion or higherby 2030, as laid out by the President and Provost in the long-range planning process. 

Zero Waste Building Pilots

The University's Zero Waste Plan has adopted a new waste system that incorporates best practices, industry standards, and efficiency standards to ensure all waste is disposed of correctly. This new system will not only help us reach our Zero Waste Goal, but will also reduce touchpoints, keep bins more sanitary, and meet future state regulations. Eight buildings have been selected to pilot the university's new waste system, which implements 8 distinct changes to ensure waste gets disposed of correctly. Read more about the Zero Waste Building Pilots and which buildings are currently participating.

Waste Training and Tours

Over half of what ends up in the trash at Stanford isn’t actually trash, according to Stanford's detailed waste characterization study. Learn how to properly sort your waste, recyclables, and compostables to help Stanford maximize its diversion rate. Earn a Be Well berry and points toward your $75 reward in My Cardinal Green when you attend a group training! Contact Office of Sustainability to set up a training.

Tours are also available for various Stanford recycling and waste management facilities. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are unable to schedule in-person tours at this time. 

Cardinal Print

Cardinal Print is Stanford's simple, secure, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective printing solution. Cardinal Print supports university sustainability goals, including becoming 80% carbon free by 2025 and achieving zero waste by 2030. The program reduces Stanford’s use of toner, paper, and energy, and all devices are ENERGY STAR®- and EPEAT®-certified. If your department or group wants to learn more about Cardinal Print, please request a Cardinal Print assessment.

Deskside Paper and Mini Trash Can Program

Deskside recycling and mini trash bins make it easy to keep paper and plastic film out of the landfill. The program provides campus office spaces with a small blue paper recycling bin and a mini black trash bin.


Composting programs at Stanford divert about 380,000 pounds of organic waste and food scraps from the landfill each month. While we divert a lot of material, there is room for improvement. Campus waste audits show that food, napkins, and other compostable material make up nearly one third of Stanford’s trash. Learn more about what is compostable on campus, where your closest compost bin is, and how to set up a composting program in your building.

Cardinal Green Event Program

The Cardinal Green Events program offers customized training and resources to help event planners make their events more sustainable. Learn about best practices in waste reduction, catering, and outreach to reduce the environmental impact of your event. Learn more about Cardinal Green Events.

Building Sustainability Performance

Stanford’s internal building sustainability rating system allows users to track building performance in waste, energy, and water consumption in real time. The Recycle IQ data collection system helps accurately monitor waste production and collection routes by tracking the volume of each material that comes from campus buildings. The data is used to determine each building’s recycling rate. Explore the map.