Recycling & Waste Diversion


U.Va. strives to recycle and divert reclaimable materials from the landfill. Recycling is defined as diverting discarded materials to be recovered and repurposed into new products. This process is meant to conserve resources and prevent new resources from being extracted from the earth. Diverting materials from landfill also reduces the University's carbon footprint, expenses, and environmental impact.

During CY 2014, the University recycled 3241 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). This yielded an MSW recycling rate of 32%. The University diverted an additional 5074 tons of non-MSW material such as ash, tires, batteries, oil, and chemicals from a landfill bringing the total recovered materials to 8315 tons, a total diversion rate of 54% percent when all materials that can be recycled or reused are considered.

Recycling & Landfilling of Waste
Total MSW
Recycling Breakdown By Category

Waste Diversion

At U.Va., students, staff, and faculty, separate white paper, mixed paper, cardboard, glass, cans, and bottles into separate bins. Then, U.Va. recycling staff hand sort and bale containers of recyclable materials. These are sold to a reprocessor to be converted into raw materials.

Benefits of Manual Sorting

  • Increase the amount of materials reclaimed
  • Ensures that quality materials are sent to a reprocessing facility
  • Less contamination of materials allows for repurposing into higher quality products
  • Materials can be sold for a higher price
  • Requires less space than a traditional sorting facility
  • Quieter and less odor producing
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Allows for the collection of more diverse sets of materials
  • Smaller energy footprint
  • Generates jobs within the community

Composting programs throughout Grounds allow food waste to be recycled into valuable nutrients for the soil. U.Va. Dining offers back of house composting at over 20 locations. The School of Architecture provides front of house composting in Campbell Hall; U.Va. Facilities Management is piloting a compost program in the Leake Building for its staff.

Waste Minimization

U.Va. offers student, faculty, and staff many opportunities to minimize waste. Everyone is encouraged to use less disposable items and instead opt for reusable items whenever possible. Programs supporting waste minimization include:

  • Reusable Water bottle Refill Stations
  • Reusable Coffee Mug Program
  • Reusable To-Go Container Program
  • Tera-Cycling
  • ROSE Program

Learn more about U.Va.’s recycling program »


The Materials Working Group, under the Environmental Stewardship Subcommittee, works on projects to reduce the amount of materials going to landfills. Participation is open to everyone. A Waste Reduction Goal Task Force is in the process of defining goals and an associated action plan for sustainable materials management at U.Va.