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Stanford is Going Zero Waste

In 2019, a waste characterization study revealed that with proper sorting and additional programs, Stanford could send as little as 6% of the waste to landfill. With this information, the Office of Sustainability designed a campus plan aimed at achieving Zero Waste, defined as 90% diversion from the landfill or higher, by 2030. 

The University's Zero Waste Plan has established a new waste system that adopts best practices, industry standards, and efficiency standards to ensure all waste is disposed of correctly. The Zero Waste Building System Transition will not only help us reach our zero waste goal, but will also reduce exposure to germs and pathogens, keep bins more sanitary, and meet future state regulations.


The initial pilot of 14 buildings began in April of 2021. The pilot resulted in dramatic increases in diversion rate across all of the participating buildings (see sample chart below). 
Zero Waste Pilot Buildings Results Chart - Encina Y2E2 ChEm-H/Neuro in 2021
After a very successful initial pilot, which was then expanded to 26 buildings, the Office of Sustainability will be systematically rolling out in the Zero Waste Building and Behavior Transition across campus.

Key Elements of the New Zero Waste System

  • Use of centralized waste and recycling bins and elimination of deskside trash and recycling custodial service in offices
  • Switch to single stream recycling (combining paper, cardboard, plastics, metal and glass)
    • Centralized collection of flattened cardboard in or next to the recycling bins
  • Compost collection in breakrooms, kitchens, and restrooms

Zero Waste Key Elements and Benefits of New System

How to Participate

  1. Educate yourself on the new system: ZERO WASTE PILOT WASTE SORTING GUIDELINES
  2. Sort your waste using the centralized bins.
    • If in doubt, find out!
    • We will be auditing the waste bins to check on contamination levels and providing feedback to buildings.
  3. Use reusable coffee cups, water bottles and utensils. BYO!
    • Compostable alternatives are great in a pinch, but are not better than reusables.

Participating Buildings as of 9/1/2022

  • Encina Commons
  • Encina Hall East
  • Encina Hall West
  • Encina Central
  • Chem-H/Neuro
  • Y2E2
  • Huang Engineering Center
  • Green Earth Science
  • HEPL End Station III
  • District Work Center S. Service Rd
  • Chem Admin Modular
  • Birch Trailer
  • Poplar Trailer
  • Juniper Trailer


  • 315 Bonair Siding
  • 319 Bonair Siding
  • 321 Bonair Siding
  • 327 Bonair Siding
  • 333 Bonair Siding
  • 340 Bonair Siding
  • Bambi Modular
  • District Work Center - Campus Dr
  • District Work Center - DWC Lasuen
  • District Work Center - Memorial Way
  • Central Energy Facility
  • O'Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, check out the waste initiatives or contact the Office of Sustainability.


Julie Muir, Zero Waste Systems Manager, Office of Sustainability (

Laura Wessberg, Zero Waste & Communications Specialist, Office of Sustainability (