Waste Goals

waste icon roundGOAL: Achieve Zero Waste (90% diversion of municipal solid waste).

STATUS: In progress

Campus Performance Overview

54% of municipal solid waste generated by UC Berkeley is diverted from landfills through recycling, composting, donating or re-selling. Although the population has grown, the amount of municipal solid waste being sent to landfill, including plastic, has been dropping annually, down from 4,095 tons in 2015 to 3,145 tons in 2022. As of 2019, the campus also diverted 90% of its construction and demolition waste away from landfills. Cal also has a robust electronics recycling and hazardous waste disposal program

Zero Waste Generation

UCOP 2022 Zero Waste Generation graphic for UC Berkeley, decorative

(Increases in overall municipal solid waste generated at Berkeley in fiscal year 2021–22 increased from fiscal year 2020-21 reflect a return to in-person activities.)

Zero Waste Diversion

UCOP 2022 Zero Waste Diversion Infographic for UC Berkeley, decorative

(The rise in UC Berkeley’s diversion rate during fiscal year 2018–19 reflects an increase in campus construction projects.)

Single-Use Plastic Elimination Goal 

In April 2020, UC Berkeley committed to the strongest plastic ban goal in the country. With a focus on foodware, plastic bags, and the spectrum of products and packaging used in campus academics, research, administration, and events, This comprehensive target aims to eliminate all non-essential single-use plastic with viable alternatives by 2030. For more information on the commitment, you can see the goal’s  language and press release

Cal Zero Waste

Bring on the Bins

Cal Zero Waste and Facilities Services have installed over 85 solar compacting multi-stream (recycling, compost, landfill) exterior bins on campus. In addition, they are standardizing all campus operated buildings–including campus dining and residence halls–with interior multi-stream bin systems. Education and behavior change are the keys to success in this process. Our whole community must:

  • Put compostable and recyclable materials into the right bins. 

  • Reduce usage of packaging, plastics, and single-use products. 

  • Use more reusables!

Find more information on our campus zero waste operations including our multi–stream system and bins, zero waste event tips, ReUse options, research underway, and FAQ’s  on the Cal Zero Waste website. For more information about zero waste see UC Berkeley's 2019 Zero Waste Plan.

STARS Performance Overview

Waste Category

According to STARS, "This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are moving toward zero waste by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting. These actions mitigate the need to extract virgin materials from the earth, such as trees and metals. It generally takes less energy and water to make a product with recycled material than with virgin resources. Reducing the generation of waste also reduces the flow of waste to incinerators and landfills, which produce greenhouse gas emissions, can contaminate air and groundwater supplies, and tend to have disproportionate negative impacts on low-income communities."

Berkeley's STARS Performance

Total Points Available: 10.00

Waste Points Claimed: 7.27

  • UC Berkeley achieved 70.27% of available points in the STARS Transportation category. The average among all research universities is <50%.

  • The campus is working to transform its recycling and waste systems so that the campus sends zero waste to landfills.

Zero Waste Spotlight

Berkeley Zero Waste Group

The Zero Waste Coalition is a campus student group working to bring together waste-related organizations at UC Berkeley with the goals of improving communication among them, and fostering collaboration on initiatives.  They strive to be a campus resource for learning about zero waste and to foster a zero waste community. Started in 2017, The Zero Waste Coalition meets monthly, and all are invited to join them. 

Download this simple guide to waste sorting!

Guide to waste sorting

The UC Berkeley Guide to Zero Waste

The UC Berkeley Zero Waste Guide