Towards Zero Waste

Vision Earth

A Stanford student poses in front of an informational sign at Vision eARTh.


A major focus of the Sustainable Food Program is to reduce the impact of our operations through efficiency measures, education of our staff and customers, collaborative efforts with our partners across campus and creative design solutions to complex behavioral challenges. The goal of these efforts is to reduce our consumption of resources, generate as little waste as possible and find the highest and best use for any waste that we do generate. These efforts are initiated through our ongoing Love Food, Hate Waste campaign, which include programs such as the following:

Trayless Dining

R&DE Stanford Dining has implemented trayless dining in each of its dining halls. This voluntary initiative is primarily designed to decrease food waste and to reduce the incentive to over-consume food. Eliminating trays has also reduced the amount of water and energy that is otherwise required to wash them.


All dining halls collect pre and post-production food waste and send it to an off-site composting facility. The food scraps are composted and then returned to campus for use in the gardens, on the farm and for various landscaping needs. In addition to the valuable fertilizer, diverting food waste from the landfill results in fewer greenhouse emissions. Stanford annually composts over 1 million pounds of food waste from its dining halls and other campus eateries.


R&DE Stanford Dining recycles paper, corrugated cardboard, plastic bags, aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, tins cans, and aseptic containers from all of our dining facilities.

Food Donations

R&DE Stanford Dining donates leftover usable food to the student-run program SPOON (Stanford Project on Hunger) to distribute to the Palo Alto Opportunity Center. Our partnership with SPOON results in about 12,000 pounds of donated food annually.

Waste Oil to Biodiesel

Waste oil from the dining halls — roughly 10,000 gallons a year — is converted to biodiesel by a local non-profit. We also provide waste oil to student engineering groups who convert it to biofuel for educational workshops.

Energy Conservation

Dining in the Daylight is an ongoing program in all dining halls to optimize the use of daylight during daytime hours. The program resulted from a collaborative project with the Green Living Council and saves us 20,735 kWh every year.

Water Conservation

We work closely with Campus Utilities to identify opportunities and technologies to reduce our water consumption. Examples include water efficient dishwashers, low flow spray nozzles, and grey water utilization in our pulpers.

Disposable Beverage Containers

R&DE Stanford Dining provides reusable water bottles to all incoming freshmen and transfer students to help reduce disposable bottled beverage consumption on campus. Students can use these containers to receive discounts at select campus cafes. We also provide bulk “spa water” in all dining facilities and special events sponsored by R&DE Stanford Dining.