Cardinal Green

Zero Waste Stanford

Stanford’s annual waste minimization campaign comes at a pivotal time, as President Marc Tessier-Lavigne recently announced Stanford’s goal to become a zero-waste campus -- defined as 90% diversion from landfill or higher -- by 2030. Stanford has maintained a diversion rate around 65% for the past ten years, and needs to advance reduction and reuse practices on campus to help jumpstart our efforts on the path to zero waste. 

We'll head back to basics in the fight of Trees against Trash. Reduce and reuse as much as possible and take action to reduce your waste footprint. Log in to My Cardinal Green for specific steps that you can take to on your own personal path to Zero Waste. 

Take Waste Reduction Actions Now

GET INVOLVED

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 bring your own reusables for the week, you'll earn points for conserving resources and advancing campus sustainability.

2. Attend an Event

Sustainable Stanford has many activities to help you on your personal path toward zero waste.

Zero Waste Game Day Challenges - RSVP to becardinalgreen@stanford.edu to volunteer your support at the game!
  • Friday, February 22, 7pm
  • Thursday, February 26, 6pm
Waste Minimization Training - Register online here
  • Tuesday, February 26, 12:30 pm 
  • Thursday, March 21, 11:30am 
Stanford Recycling Center Tours - RSVP to julie@pssirecycling.com to sign up for a tour
  • Friday, March 1, 1pm
  • Wednesday, March 20, 3pm
  • Thursday, March 28, 12pm
Newby Island Compost Facility Tour - RSVP to julie@pssirecycling.com (carpool required)
  • Friday, March 8, 1pm 

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 ten 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.

Background and Results

Over the last 30 years, Stanford has increased waste diversion to 63% 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 2017, Stanford reduced that number to around 8,190 tons.

Stanford has performed more than 30 waste audits over the past several years, with interesting results. These audits reveal that most of what ends up in Stanford's landfill bins, is not actually landfill at all. 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 Stanford's waste minimization campaign, the campus reports its diversion and landfill numbers on a weekly basis to the national RecycleMania competition.  RecycleMania results have been consistently strong over the years. The table below provides a snapshot of Stanford’s performance in four of the most fiercely competitive categories:

Waste Minimization 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) – 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).
  • Re-buy – Buy recycled or repurposed products when necessary and possible. Check out Stanford Surplus Property Sales, Reuse Portal, and for labs, the Surplus Chemical Program