Recycling and Waste Management

With an 83 percent diversion rate, UC Irvine is well on its way to achieving its goal of being a “zero waste” campus, a designation afforded UC campuses that divert 95 percent from local landfills. Campus programs educate our community about recyclable materials, sustainable purchasing options, and proper methods of hazardous waste disposal.

UCI has committed itself to achieving the UCOP goal of Zero Waste by 2020. Zero Waste allows us to minimize the material going to landfill through reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting.

zero waste leaf

Diversion Rate

UCI has an 83 percent diversion rate, which means our campus has diverted 83 percent of all its waste from landfill to recycling and composting facilities. UCI averages 10,000 tons of solid waste annually. In 2014, UCI was able to divert 7,642 tons by recycling, composting and reusing. The total waste sent to landfill was 2,358 tons. UCI has consistently reduced the amount of material sent to landfill over the past 6 years.


In order to encourage the diversion rate to further increase to the ultimate goal of 95 percent, UCI continues to promote green programs, including: recycling, composting, and reuse of over 22 different commodities.

UCI’s current diversion rate is 83%
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Recycling at UCI

Recycling is beneficial for both our personal communities and our environment as a whole. Recycling not only diverts waste from landfill, but it also allows for recyclables to become new reusable items. UCI practices proper disposal and aims to divert as much trash from landfill as possible to reach our goal of Zero Waste. We need you to help us reach this goal! Click here to learn how to properly dispose of, or recycle, specific waste items.

recycling contents

Zero Waste & Recycling Programs

water fountain

Hydration Stations

At UC Irvine, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to utilize reusable products and to recycle materials in order to reduce and divert campus waste from landfills. In 2014, UCI’s 162 Bottle Filling Stations helped avoid the use of over 2.3 million plastic bottles equal to 65 tons of plastic.

trash truck

Styrofoam Recycling

Through a new Styrofoam recycling program, UCI now collects large packaging Styrofoam from 10 locations across campus. Since the program started in November 2015, over 280 cubic yards of Styrofoam has been collected, equivalent to 8 train cars. On average, 40 cubic yards is collected per month.

picking up trash


In 2015, UCI placed 6th out of 461 universities in the category of Grand Champion. UCI also placed 7th in the Gorilla Category. For the past 6 consecutive years, UCI has ranked in the top 10 schools with the highest diversion rate!


Zero Waste Facilities

To achieve Zero Waste, a building must have both a commingled recycling and a food compost program. Seven campus buildings operate at Zero Waste 24/7. The Anteater Recreation Center, Bren Events Center and the Cicero Baseball Fields are the newest Zero Waste Facilities.

recycle bins

Big Bellies

The Big Belly pilot has been introduced to areas around the Ring Road. Big Bellies are solar-powered compactor bins equipped with an electronic dashboard system that sends an alert when it is full. Implementation of the pilot bins has reduced pickup from daily to weekly.

compostable items list held by smiling woman

Food Scrap Program

In 2010, UCI’s Food Scrap program began at Mesa Commons, and has since grown to include all campus dining locations. In 2014, UCI’s Food Scrap Program diverted 549 tons of food waste. Since implementation, the Food Scrap program has diverted 1,800 tons of food waste.

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