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Waste Reduction

Established in 2011, U-M’s 2025 Ann Arbor campus waste reduction goal focuses on pursuing purchasing, reuse, recycling and composting strategies toward long-term waste eradication.

2025 Goal

Reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by 40 percent below 2006 levels.

Status

32% reduction in waste sent to landfills

Zero Waste Campus Events

Members of the U-M community can help reduce waste by hosting a zero waste event, where at least 90 percent of waste is diverted from the landfill via waste prevention, recycling and composting. The Office of Campus Sustainability provides guidance and compost collection service to students, faculty and staff to make their campus events zero waste.

Other Highlights

Waste bin standardization

In 2020, U-M finished standardizing waste bins across campus with clear signage identifying where to throw items to make it easier to reduce, recycle and compost.

Composting expansion

Compost service continues to expand across U-M and a growing number of events are zero waste. There are now over 1,000 compost bins on campus—including all residence halls and all 22 on-campus cafes. In addition, over 600 staff kitchens are composting.

Composting and recycling on the medical campus

In University of Michigan Health's first year of collecting post-consumer compost (leftover food from patient trays), they composted more than ever before: 124 tons! UMH expanded its single-stream and construction and demolition recycling in 2020. UMH also recycles blue wrap (a polypropylene-based sterilization wrap used in operating rooms) in C.S. Mott Children's and Von Voiglander Women's Hospital and the Cardiovascular Center Hospital.

Diversion rate improves

Since 2006, when the goals were established, U-M building square footage has increased by more than 9 million square feet, offsetting overall waste reduction. Yet the university has increased its diversion rate (the percent of waste diverted from the landfill by recycling or composting) from 29% in fiscal year 2016 to 42% in fiscal year 2020.

Goal data reflects temporary pandemic-related impacts and may not accurately convey the overall trajectory of progress.

For more information about U-M’s sustainability goals, visit the Office of Campus Sustainability.