Cal Zero Waste FAQs

Operational Questions

My office just implemented with the new zero waste system. How does it work?

Please refer to this informational flyer for details on how the new system works.

Who do I contact if my office bins are full/overflowing?

If there are bin(s) that need to be serviced in your department, call the Facilities Services desk at (510) 642-1034 and initiate a work order. 

I will be moving out of my department, is there something that I can do with my extra recyclable and reusable office materials?

To request a cart to recycle paper materials please refer to these clean-out cart request guidelines and call the Facilities Services desk to initiate a work order at (510) 642-1032.

For office materials that could be reused, contact the Facilities Services desk at (510) 642-1032 and initiate a work order so that these items can be repurposed and redistributed.

My department will be hosting an event, is there a way to get extra bins?

To request extra bins for an event, please call the Facilities Services desk at (510) 642-1032 and refer to our Zero Waste Event page. To ensure that the bins are serviced and placed properly, contact us at least two weeks prior to the event.

How do I request a shredding bin?

The UC Berkeley Mail Services department delivers, services, and manages the Cal Shredding Service program. Please refer to their website,, for further questions.

What are the standards for enclosure waste receptacles on campus?

UC Berkeley's Real Estate Campus Design Standard (page 279-281) provides official information on the university's zero waste enclosure protocol.

Disposal and Recycling Questions

Where do I dispose/recycle electronic waste, batteries, and other related toxic materials?

The UC Berkeley Surplus operation has teamed with the campus' Environmental Health and Safety department to contract with an electronic waste vendor for the demanufacturing of all electronic waste (E-waste) generated by or taken in at the Berkeley campus. This department handles all electronic waste such as computers, televisions, and stereos. Refer to the Berkeley Property Management website to coordinate a drop-off.

To dispose of hazardous materials such as batteries, paint, and medical waste,  contact the Office of Environment, Health & Safety at 642-3073.

How do I recycle printer and toner cartridges?

UC Berkeley Mailing Services handles printer and toner cartridge recycling. Empty cartridges should be placed in their original packaging or appropriate box and placed in your department's outgoing mail. Mail Services will pick them up and recycle them free of charge. For more information please refer to their website:

Do I have to remove staples, paperclips, binder clips, cellophane, and adhesives before I recycle them?

Staples, cellophane, and adhesives do not need to be removed before depositing them in the mixed paper bin. Paperclips and binder clips should be removed so that they can be reused.

Where does campus waste go?

Where does the landfill waste go after it leaves campus?

Landfill waste is transported to Golden Bear Transfer Station in Richmond. It's then consolidated and hauled by semitrucks to Keller Canyon Landfill near Pittsburg. 

Where do recycled materials go after they leave campus?

Mixed paper/cardboard goes to the Berkeley Recycling Center / Community Conservation Center located in Berkeley.

Cans and Bottles is serviced by Civicorp and is taken to a Materials Recovery Facility in Oakland.

What happens to compost after it leaves campus?

Food waste is composted all together with other organics such as landscape waste and grass clippings. It is transported to the West Contra Costa Landfill in Richmond, and a small portion of the compost materials are also transported to the City of Berkeley Transfer Station.

Where does hazardous waste go?

Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) manages all hazardous waste at the Hazardous Materials Facility, located on Frank Schlesinger Way, just east of the Hellman tennis complex. Hazardous waste is collected, labeled, packaged, and then transported to various off campus treatment facilities depending on the waste type.

Cal Zero Waste Programs

Which policies/initiatives were the most helpful to reduce Berkeley's waste in the last five years?

TGIF (The Green Initiative Fund) has been an invaluable resource for our office's waste reduction projects and initiatives over recent years. Please refer to their website for the specific projects that Cal Zero Waste collaborated with them on.

The Compost Alliance and Zero Waste Building Initiatives upgraded the university's diversion and recycling systems, namely adding composting at various pilot locations on campus. 

The Beverage Alliance Grant Program funded numerous indoor centralized recycling collection bins, including many of the cabinet bins found throughout campus. 

In 2013, Campus Recycling and Refuse Services and the Office of Sustainability collaborated to write the UC Berkeley Zero Municipal Solid Waste to Landfill by 2020 Plan, which highlights and summarizes waste reduction, composting, and recycling strategies to help the campus reach zero waste by 2020.

UC Berkeley Waste Metrics

What are UC Berkeley's landfill metrics in recent years?

​2007-2008: 5,995 tons

2008-2009: 6,838 tons

2009-2010: 4,400 tons

2010-2011: 5,001 tons

2011-2012: 4,780 tons

2012-2013: 4,622 tons

2014-2015: 4,462 tons

2015-2016: 4,096 tons

What goes in each bin?

Why compost?

Is biodegradable the same as compostable?