Zero Waste

Policy Target: 90% diversion from landfill, 25% reduction of waste per capita from 2016 FY levels by 2025

UCLA has a comprehensive recycling and waste management program. The University recycles a wide variety of materials including food and beverage containers, plastics, paper, metals, green waste, food waste, construction waste, electronics, and more. The University has also pursued a number of waste reduction initiatives, from clothes donation to paperless initiatives. If you have questions about what goes in the different bins, or how to recycle different materials, check out our FAQs. For detailed data on our waste performance, please review the 2019-2021 FY Waste Data Report.

To reach our ambitious waste reduction and diversion goals, we need help from the entire UCLA community. This means taking daily, meaningful steps towards more sustainable options such as purchasing recyclable or locally compostable products in your office, bringing reusable foodware and bottles, and taking only as much as you need in the dining halls. For tips on how you can help, please review the available resources on this website.


Current Projects

Single-Use Plastics Policy

UCLA is committed to reducing the university’s environmental impact and developed a Single-Use Plastics Policy. The policy will phase out food accessory items such as plastic utensils, cups, lids, bowls, plastic bags, and ultimately eliminate single-use plastic water bottles while increasing access to water-refilling hydration stations. This is envisioned to cover not just sit-down and take-out restaurants, but everything from conferences, catered meetings, and events large and small.

Centralized Waste & Infrastructure Standardization

As campus moves forward with standardizing centralized waste collection, Facilities Management will be providing 3-stream containers, which will greatly expand waste diverting capacity and allow users to sort their waste into compost, recycling, and landfill streams. Personal desk-side waste baskets will no longer be serviced and building occupants will need to bring and sort their waste at centralized waste bins strategically placed throughout our facilities. Please refer to our waste sorting guides to help you demystify any questions you may have or check out our FAQ page.

Why is this change happening?

The transition to Centralized Waste Collection began with pilot buildings in 2019, ultimately leading up to 40 locations across campus before March of 2020. Our team researched best practices from across over 70 universities utilizing Centralized Waste Collection in the U.S., including The University of Washington, Stanford, and other UCs like UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The pilot buildings successfully tested the new infrastructure (the centralized waste bins that you see today) for capacity, ease of use by custodians and building occupants, and viability for long-term use to reach the Zero Waste policy targets.

The shift to centralized waste aims to address key issues:

  • Standardization of waste receptacles across Facilities Management serviced buildings – aiming to remove and consolidate the types and number of waste receptacles used across campus
  • Culture shift in the approach to waste – aiming to largely raise awareness and influence behavior in the Bruin community to take accountability and responsibility in their waste generation and disposal 

Resources

The Centralized Waste Do’s and Don’ts is available for download and sharing. Other resources you may wish to view are the FAQ on centralized waste as well as Centralized Waste Transition Info available in English and Spanish. Please email any questions you may have to  sustainability@ucla.edu.

As campus updates and standardizes infrastructure, Facilities Management has published a Waste Bin Requirements document is available to ensure that departments purchasing receptacles meet Facility Management’s Scope of Work and have consistent messaging. This document provides guidance on placement of waste receptacles and offers options for waste bins that meet the requirements should a department need additional or alternative bins.


Partnerships

Contact us at zerowaste@ucla.edu if you wish to donate any materials to any of our partners.

Community Programs Office (CPO)

Our Zero Waste team partners with the CPO Food Closet to provide meals to students who are experiencing food insecurity due to financial hardship, and in turn reducing food waste. With a text based service called Bruin Bites, campus community members can receive notifications about when free food is available. For details on how to donate to these efforts, check out the UCLA Food Recovery Implementation Guide.

Student Organizations

Are you planning an office clean-out and have a lot of usable supplies for students? UCLA is working with various student organizations that will provide resources to students at no cost.

human-I-T

To achieve highest and best use of materials, UCLA has partnered with human-I-T to refurbish electronic waste (including lab equipment) rather than sending the materials to be recycled. The refurbished products will be provided to low-income individuals, under-served communities, and nonprofits in need of technology, internet, and digital training. The remaining non-salvageable goods will be recycled through a certified process. You can learn more about human-I-T by clicking here or submit an e-waste request through the Recycling Request Form.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles

Do you have furniture or small appliances in good, usable condition that can be donated? UCLA has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles to rehome these items where proceeds are used to help build strength, stability, self-reliance, and shelter in local communities and around the world – a good deal for you, your community, and the environment. Donated furniture will be brought to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles ReStores, home improvement stores, and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home goods, building materials and more.

To help you determine what furniture is considered “good and resalable”, click here to view the slides provided by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.


Planning Documents and Reports


Media and Awards