Sustainability is hiring students! Learn more about current opportunities
Image of UC Davis Student Farm compost bins.

Zero Waste

Sustainability Goals

  • Zero waste (minimum 90% diversion of municipal solid waste from landfill)
  • Waste reduction goals
    • 25% per capita from FY 2015/16 levels by 2025
    • 50% per capita from FY 2015/16 levels by 2030



Davis Campus – Waste Diverted

As of July 2020

zero waste diverted chart uc davis

Source: UC Sustainability Annual Report 2020


Sacramento Campus – Waste Diverted

As of July 2020

zero waste diverted chart uc davis health

Source: UC Sustainability Annual Report 2020

Campus Actions


Waste reduction is highest on the waste management hierarchy, and for good reason. Avoiding waste generation in the first place saves natural resources used during the production process, and also avoids the labor, resources, and impacts from having to manage the waste at its end of life.

The Davis campus encourages waste reduction in a variety of ways including water refill stations, discounts at select campus food retail locations for bringing in reusable cups and plates, and educational campaigns (e.g. MyLastTrash campaign to encourage reusable cups, utensils, bags and napkins).


Next on the waste hierarchy is reuse. Reusing items keeps it out of the landfill while it is still useful.

The Davis campus has two on-campus reuse stores that are open to the public, Aggie Surplus (for surplus items donated by campus departments like furniture, lab equipment and office supplies) and Aggie Reuse (for student-donated clothing and home goods). The campus also holds two bike auctions every year to give abandoned bikes on campus a second home.

The campus also washes and reuses the gravel bedding at the Primate Center.


Lower on the waste hierarchy (but still higher than landfill), is recycle and compost. By creating new products out of existing items, recycling keeps items out of the landfill and helps avoid the need to harvest and produce new products out of raw materials.

The Davis campus collects and recycles conventional materials (paper, cardboard, containers made from plastic, class, or aluminum) across campus. Select locations and special recycling programs may also recycle construction and demolition waste, scrap metal, hardbound books, lab gloves, toners and inkjets, and mattresses from the residence halls.

Increasing locations across campus collect compostable materials like food waste, paper towels, compostable plastic and paper food packaging, wooden utensils, and pizza boxes.

Waste Competitions

Along with many other colleges and universities nationwide, UC Davis participates in competitions that rank campuses based on how much waste is diverted.  Two notable competitions that UC Davis participates in are the Game Day Challenge, which highlights diversion efforts at the UC Davis Health Stadium during the football season, Campus Race to Zero Waste (formerly RecycleMania), which focuses on recycling efforts during the winter academic quarter, and the EPA Food Recovery Challenge, which focuses on food organics prevention/source reduction and diversion.