Zero Landfill Waste

There is no away when we throw away

Zero Landfill Waste Highlights

An average American generates about 4.4 pounds of landfill waste every day. Emory encourages all members of its community to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills – and Emory University is leading a multitude of efforts designed to support that goal.

The Emory Waste Policy was rolled out in January 2018 to guide campus waste management changes. Designed to achieve our 2025 goals for waste reduction and diversion, this extensive program offers convenient recycling and composting stations across campus and clear instructions to enable the entire campus community to eliminate landfill waste.

Emory’s Sustainability Vision & Strategic Plan, 2025 includes the goal to divert 95% of non-construction campus waste from municipal landfills by that year.

From January 2018 to December 2018, Emory University diverted about 70% of its total waste from landfills – an 11% increase from the 59% diverted in 2017.

Zero Landfill Waste Benefits

By recycling and composting at Emory, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, enhance environmental justice by reducing the negative effects of landfills on already marginalized populations, and decrease habitat loss and animal displacement due to landfills. Recycling conserves natural resources, increases economic security, prevents pollution, and helps create jobs in the community.

Emory University deeply values sustainability, and we are embracing the opportunity for our entire community to develop habits that will encourage lifelong sustainable living. The Waste Policy requires all University departments to include information regarding Emory’s landfill diversion commitments in new employee, faculty and student orientation materials by 2020.

Waste is broken into specific streams to optimize revenue that can be realized from recyclables.

How It Works

All major University buildings are equipped with five standardized bins to collect the following commodities:

  • Compost
  • Plastics and Metals
  • Mixed Paper
  • White Paper
  • Landfill

Exterior bins have been standardized to provide two collection streams: compost and mixed recycling. There are designated collection areas in most major buildings for hard-to-recycle materials – glass, packaging Styrofoam, batteries, light bulbs, ink and toner cartridges, and aerosol cans.

The servicing of desk-side waste or recycling bins by Campus Services’ staff has been discontinued. While Emory staff and faculty may keep a bin or other container at their desk, they will individually transport their disposables to central collection areas.

All University events will be zero landfill waste events by 2020 and free from disposable plastic water bottles by 2025, unless granted an exception by the Executive Vice President for Business and Administration.


  • Almost all materials can be recycled or composted at Emory. Download Emory’s waste sorting brochure to learn which materials should be placed in which bins.
  • The majority of the University’s recycling and composting is coordinated by Emory Recycles, a department of Campus Services.
  • Emory has a robust electronics recycling process. Whether a university-purchased item or personal electronics, members of the Emory community are expected to learn more and properly recycle electronics. Students may drop off their personal electronic waste at these locations for data cleaning and repurposing or recycling.
  • Emory Recycles accepts waste and recyclables for any of our five streams at the Recycling Drop Off site located on Peavine Creek Drive open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    • To learn more about the Emory Recycling Center, take a virtual tour here