Zero waste

Roughly 80% of the waste produced every day at UVic's Gordon Head campus is diverted away from the landfill through recycling and composting efforts. This achievement demonstrates UVic's commitment to sustainable waste management. 

But making sure our waste is properly sorted is only one part of our strategy. UVic's overarching goal is to become a zero-waste institution, meaning that we must prioritize reuse and reducing our waste altogether.

Moving forward with zero waste at Uvic 

To make this happen, UVic has committed to several actions:

  1. Reducing waste: working with University Food Services and Residence Services to find ways of reducing the amount of waste created by students, employees and visitors on campus.
  2. Better waste management: developing new policies, methods and infrastructure to support our waste reduction goals.
  3. Ditching single-use plastics: engaging our supplies and purchasing departments to explore alternatives to single-use plastics in line with municipal, provincial and federal regulations. This also means continuing to add surcharges for single-use food containers and cups on campus.
  4. Reusable food and beverage containers: introducing and expanding programs like the Eco Box program pilot project in University Food Service outlets.

Learn more about these committments in our Climate and Sustainability Action Plan (CSAP) 2030. 

Keeping track of progress

UVic's Waste Reduction Services team collects and analyzes waste volume data from contractors and material data sheets to develop waste diversion rates on a monthly basis. Waste audits are also conducted to support data-driven recommendations and updates to current practices. 

This information plays an important role in our recertification with the aashe STARS (Sustainability Tracking & Assessment Ranking System). Our previous STARS report was submitted in 2020, where we received an International Gold Ranking.  

In November of 2022, a waste audit was performed, and the report will be released in the fall of 2023. For the most recently reported figures, please see the the AASHE STARS 2020 Report.

Successes to date

Advancing our waste reduction goals has required cross-campus partnerships, trial and error, and the widespread support of our campus community. While we know there is more work to be done, we are also proud of our accomplishments to date. 

  • Standardized waste stream stations: inside campus buildings, there are now more than 300 multi-waste stream bin stations. These are set up to make waste, recycling and composting consistent and easy at UVic. 
  • Outdoor Sort-It-Out stations: all individual garbage bins outside have been replaced with outdoor Sort-It-Out stations. These are also there to make recycling and composting accessible across campus.
  • Speciality recycling programs: UVic is working on expanding the availability of speciality recycling programs on campus. This includes recycling programs for items like soft plastics, styrofoam, office supplies (like pens and batteries), and even medical masks.
  • Construction waste tracking: when constructing new buildings, construction waste is tracked under the LEED green building rating system. They typically achieve impressive waste diversion rates, often greater than 90%.
  • Engaged campus community: our campus community is actively involved in these efforts. Numerous student clubs, employees (both academic and non-academic) and students are enthusastic about achieving UVic's zero waste goals, helping keep us accountable. 

Waste management on campus

Facilities Management Waste Reduction Services manages the waste and recycling collection programs on campus, working with the various groups involved. 

Education and behaviour change are keys to success in this process - everyone must do their part by properly sorting waste, and working to reduce waste in general. 

How is UVic's waste managed?

UVic Custodial Services is responsible for a variety of services, including taking care of cleaning and emptying the waste and recycling stations found inside campus buildings into their appropriate waste and/or recycling totes located in building compounds.

From there, Waste Reduction Services staff collect materials in totes to bring either to the campus Transfer Station, local recycling depots, or directly to the Hartland landfill. At the campus Transfer Station, contents from waste/recycling totes are emptied into the appropriate roll-off bins, where it is collected by haulers and sorted at the end-site. Waste Reduction Services also collect the waste and recycling from the Outdoor Sort-It-Out stations.  

Things like office furniture are disassembed by Waste Reduction Services staff and recycled accordingly. E-waste is also collected and sorted for recycling in a separate process. 

Organic waste is collected from each campus building by a Waste Reduction Services staff and then transported by a local resource recovery company to an off-campus composting facility for processing. 

What about in student residence buildings?

Each student room comes with waste and recycling containers. Students are responsible for bringing any garbage, compost or recycling from their unit and/or room to the nearest waste room and sorting any recyclable materials.

Residence Life & Education Team service workers are responsible for the day-to-day cleaning of shared common areas in the residence community, including emptying all shared waste and recycling containers. They bring collected bags of unsorted landfill, glass, metal, and plastic to the outdoor dumpsters and totes.


Commitment to reducing single-use plastics

UVic is committed to reducing plastic waste and limiting the use of plastic on campus.

Government regulations: the BC Government introduced the Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation Provincial regulation, which comes into effect in December 2023. This regulation aims to expand upon existing efforts to prevent single-use plastic pollution and waste. Many municipal bylaws, like the District of Saanich's Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw have already been passed to help address this issue. These regulations play a significant role in shaping UVic's own policies concerning plastics. It requires cooperation and partnerships from various departments across campus.

Collaboration for change: the Office of Campus Planning and Sustainability supports programming, education and outreach on ways to reduce our waste and proper sorting. We also work closely with various campus partners, like University Food Services, to reduce the plastic waste in UVic's dining services and on campus.

Learn about their commitments and progress to date.

Key contacts

If you have any issues of questions with the multi-stream waste stations on campus, or if you would like to request additional stations in the academic/administrative buildings: