Zero Waste Research Center

Zero Waste Research Center

The Zero Waste Research Center at UC Berkeley researches and implements upstream strategies for reducing campus waste, with a focus on purchasing, redesigning products, creating behavior change incentives, and instituting closed-loop “circular economy” waste systems. The ZWRC tests such strategies via campus projects. The Zero Waste Research Center strives to create a cradle-to-cradle campus waste management system and achieve Zero Waste by 2020.

The Zero Waste Research Center was founded by Campus Recycling and Refuse Services and The Green Initiative Fund through a 2012 TGIF Grant, when CRRS Staff Assistants Kimberly Lam and Claire Porter won a $19,000 TGIF Grant. The goal of the ZWRC was to develop a team of undergraduate students who would focus on upstream strategies towards waste diversion, or in other words, research preventative and creative solutions on reducing waste at UC Berkeley. Since then, more than 12 students have served as ZWRC Program Associates, leading a variety of waste reduction projects and conducting upstream research.

Today, the Zero Waste Research Center is composed of students working on the UC Berkeley Materials Recovery and Recycling Facility (MRF) project, the Vermicomposting/Composting Facility Project, and the ASUC Green Team Associates. The Plastics / Materials Recycling Facility Project is a research project aiming to identify the most efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable local solutions to recycling municipal solid waste. Projects include the 3D Printer Filament Reclamation Project, Plastics in Pavement, and other research projects looking to eliminate the trade of waste overseas. The Vermicomposting / MTSS Project is a culmination of aquaponics, hydroponics, and vermicomposting, combining the benefits of each system in order to maximize return of food products from Organic Waste. With an ultimate goal of establishing a Composting facility for the campus to process organic waste on campus, the MTSS project aims to create a system that is highly effective at reducing the impact of organic waste. The ASUC Green Team focuses primarily on projects that improve sustainability within the ASUC, while furthering environmental education and information to the student body.

Finally, ZWRC is collaborating with Green Labs to help laboratories on campus reduce the amount of waste they produce. We will support labs as they attain and maintain their Green Certification, find new ways to recycle and re-purpose their waste, and seek take-back programs. Laboratory waste is one of the most challenging types of waste produced by the campus, and we are excited to work with labs as they reduce their impact on the environment.

Projects Include:


2015 Summary Report



Reuse, recycle, refill: writing the future with green pens

A worldwide first: Berkeley steps up to the plastic-waste challenge

Zero waste? Bin there, doing that

How Berkeley Students are Fighting 3D Printer Waste

As 3D Printing Grows, so does the need to Reclaim Waste