Recycling and Waste Management

With an 80 percent diversion rate, UC Irvine is well on its way to achieving its goal of becoming a “zero waste” campus, a designation afforded UC campuses that divert 90 percent from local landfills. Zero waste, as defined by the University of California, is diverting 90 percent or more of campus municipal solid waste from landfills – making the amount of waste produced from the university as close to zero as possible. Zero waste allows us to minimize the material going to landfill through reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting.

In 2018, UCI reached a 16 percent total waste reduction per weighted campus user (WCU). This meets the University of California systemwide goal to reduce per capita total waste by 15 percent from fiscal year 2015/16 levels by 2020.



zero waste leaf

Diversion Rate

As of 2020, UCI has an 80 percent diversion rate, meaning that 20 percent of its solid waste is going to landfill, while the remaining 80% of waste is recycled, reused or composted. In order to encourage the diversion rate to further increase to the ultimate goal of 90 percent, UCI continues to promote green programs, including: recycling, composting, and reuse of over 25 different commodities.

UCI generally averages 10,000 tons of solid waste annually. However, due to a reduced population on campus in *fiscal year (FY) 2019 – 2020, overall solid waste decreased slightly, totaling 9,300 tons. During this time, UCI was able to divert 7,481 tons by recycling, composting and reusing. The total waste sent to landfill was 1,901 tons. This shows that even in the midst of a pandemic, UCI was able to maintain a diversion rate of 80 percent.

*UCI’s fiscal year (FY) is from July 1 to June 30.


UCI’s current waste diversion rate is 80%
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UCI 2019 Waste Diversion Plan

solid waste diversion plan

Styrofoam Recycling

UCI’s Styrofoam Program collects Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) from laboratory and health science buildings in 10 locations on campus. These large pieces of Styrofoam are primarily from the shipping of cold stored material to the labs. Our program does not accept peanuts, cups, plates, or any small Styrofoam pieces. The average collection is 1.5 tons each month. The material is taken to a facility in Corona (40 miles away) where it is densified into large 1 ton cubes. This puts the material into a recyclable/sellable state, ready to produce other Styrofoam products.

Donation Bins

UCI’s donation bin program is happy to accept donations from UCI students, staff, and faculty. Goodwill and One World are the two companies participating in this program. There are a total of 18 bins all located in UCI housing communities. They are only located within these communities. The items that can be donated include clothing, dishes, silverware, small electronics, houseware, books, select bedding and towels. 

Click here to locate detailed maps of bin locations on the UCI housing community maps.