What if Only 10% of Our Waste Went to the Landfill?
In a sustainability officer’s perfect world, every piece of waste we generate would be reused, recycled or composted—nothing would need to exit the “circular economy” of materials for the landfill. Getting to zero is a bit of a utopian dream, but what if only 10 percent of waste went to the landfill? That’s the university’s “zero-waste” goal, which it plans to meet by 2030.
Stanford has nearly halved its landfill tonnage since 1998 through aggressive education and waste management practices. What can it do next?
- Resell more of the equipment and furniture no longer needed by campus departments.
- Expand food donation programs.
- Encourage faculty, staff and students to reduce their use of disposable materials.
- Require the purchase of goods and services that can be repaired, recycled or composted (e.g., ask campus restaurants to use compostable tableware).
- Improve compost collection (e.g., the stadium doubled its trash diversion rate in 2016 by adding compost bins during football season).
- Expand laboratory recycling programs, targeting supplies such as lab gloves and cardboard.
- Continue education efforts across campus so people recycle, reuse and compost properly. Only 23 percent of what goes into the landfill today belongs there.
- Broaden use of My Cardinal Green, a personalized sustainability portal and incentive program that helps faculty, students and employees manage their conservation behaviors.