Waste collection

Utrecht University wants to play a trailblazing role in the field of sustainability. How does the university handle its waste?

Recycle as much as possible

  • In 2017, the university recycled over 53% of all the collected waste.
  • The university is improving this by improving waste separation and reducing the amount of general waste.
Afvalscheiding in het Victor J. Koningsbergergebouw.
Waste separation in the Victor J. Koningsberger building.

Reducing residual waste

  • In 2017, 62.2% of all waste was general waste. In 2020, this must be 30%.
  • The university is placing more and more waste-collection systems that make it possible to separate waste at the source. This way, we can separate paper, cups, KGW, plastics and general waste.
Turn your trash into treasure

Buildings with waste separation systems

  • In these buildings waste is separated in waste separation systems: Administration building, Androclus building, Buys Ballot Building, Dining Hall, Drift 21, 23 en 25, Educatorium, Earth Simulation Lab, Sjoerd Groenman building, Janskerkhof 2-3a, Martinus J. Langeveld building, Minnaert building, Newtonlaan, Ruppert building, Spinozahall, University Hall, University Library in city centre, Vening Meinesz building A, Vening Meinesz building B, Victor J. Koningsberger building and Wittevrouwenstraat 7bis,
  • In other buildings waste is also separated but not in waste separation systems and not all waste flows. 

Circular economy

In order to create a fully waste-free university, the step towards a circular economy is an essential part. This puts waste management in a new perspective in which waste the focus is on resource management.

A few examples:

Reused green waste

The university processes the green waste of De Uithof and the ICU grounds into Bokashi. This is fermented leaf soil and has a higher nutritional value than compost. The university makes this fermented waste available to its own employees (for garden use) and to employees with vegetable gardens (Uithovenier). The remaining materials are used as sustainable compost in the Utrecht Botanic Gardens and on university grounds.

Biodegradable disposables

In the second half of 2017, the university did a pilot with biodegradable disposables in one of the university restaurants. The cups of sugarcane, the cutlery of corn and the plates of palm leaves replaced the china service and cutlery. Research by students from the Faculty of Geosciences shows that the so-called biodegradable disposables are not more sustainable than the porcelain dishes in this situation. That's why the university stopped the pilot and is not replacing the porcelain dishes with biodegradable disposables.

A shredder in the restaurant shredder shredded, grinded and compressed the disposables and KGW together. The waste processor then turned this into compost. Moreover, the compost was used for growing fruits and vegetables.


The university stimulates its employees, students and guests to work and study with as little resources as possible. This is done by disseminating tips through the internet, intranet, lectures, workshops and awareness campaigns. These campaigns include tips such as shown in the infographic or in the video below: