Waste Minimization

sorting trash

UC San Diego aims to be a zero-waste campus by 2020. In 2012, we diverted approximately 66% of waste from landfills. Including construction and demolition waste, the diversion rate was 75%.

UC San Diego continually seeks opportunities to reduce waste, expand our recycling program, and use recycled materials.


In FY 2011-12, Facilities Management and Environment, Health & Safety sent 6,764 tons of trash to local landfills and diverted 13,354 tons of waste to achieve a 66.4% diversion rate. The following materials, reported in tons, were diverted from landfills:

  • 1,627 single-stream recyclables
  • 4,138 scrap metal
  • 2,186.88 organics, including:
    • 1,989 landscape waste
    • 178 food waste
  • 6,335 construction and demolition
  • 2,447 furniture and office waste

Note: Diverted waste does not include waste and recycled materials from medical centers contracted to another vendor, construction and demolition recycling, office furniture and equipment sent to Surplus Sales, and charitable donations made by Housing, Dining, & Hospitality.

Our waste reduction efforts also include:

  • Discontinuing use of disposable plastic bags at the campus bookstore
  • Using non-disposable serveware in dining facilities
  • Defaulting double-sided printing for all Business Affairs copiers
  • Installing campus Hydration Locations to help reduce plastic bottle use by providing a convenient way to refill reusable containers with chilled, filtered water
  • Using Ted, UC San Diego’s own learning management system, to allow faculty and students to place class materials, such as syllabi and assignments, online to save paper

See How to Host a Zero-Waste Event on Campus (PDF)


Facilities Management supports a single-bin recycling program that allows all designated recyclables to be placed in any campus recycling container, including office bins.


Campus reuse efforts include:

  • Providing departments a way to resell, recycle, and dispose of excess university property through Surplus Sales
  • Implementing ChemCycle, our own chemical recycling facility that accepts usable surplus chemicals, then provides them to researchers free of charge
  • Partnering with TerraCycle and OfficeMax to form the Writing Instrument Brigade which “upcycles” defunct writing instruments
  • Collecting oil for re-refining and using retreaded tires on campus shuttles
  • Donating furniture, electronics, and non-perishable food to charitable organizations upon student move outs
  • Offering cash incentives for use of reusable mugs at campus dining facilities


Since 2011, Housing, Dining & Hospitality Services has partnered with Facilities Management and UC San Diego students to divert pre-consumer food waste, such as vegetable and fruit trimmings, into a compost system. The rich compost that results then returns full circle into campus community gardens.

UC San Diego is also partnering with the City of San Diego to test the possible diversion of post-consumer food waste, including compostable dinnerware, at San Diego’s new landfill expansion.

Battery Disposal for Resident Students

Students who live on campus can bring their used batteries to these locations for proper disposal:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt College Student Activity Center (map)
  • Marshall College Residential Life Office (map)
  • Middle of Muir (map)
  • Muir College Residential Life Office (map)
  • Revelle College Residential Life Office (map)
  • Sixth College Residential Life Office (map)
  • Warren College Residential Life Office (map)