Goal update

Baseline: 25%

Q2 2023: 21%

Goal: 90%

Cumulative savings: 29.5 million pounds of waste diverted from the landfill, equivalent to the weight of approximately 2,200 African Bush Elephants.

The Medical Center is a complex organization that produces many waste streams including certain products required for patient care. These constraints make the 90 percent diversion rate an especially ambitious goal for the Medical Center. Below are several ongoing and new initiatives working to meet this goal.

Recent Efforts

Construction and demolition recycling.

In 2020 the Medical Center recycled nearly 3 million pounds of construction and demolition material from the MMI project. This volume of recycled materials from construction and demolition is a large reason why the Med Center’s diversion rate saw a sharp increase in 2019 and 2020.

Writing instrument recycling.

Over 6,000 pens (totaling 102 pounds) were collected and mailed to TerraCycle for recycling.

Zero-waste event.

The Medical Center hosted its annual barbecue, an ongoing zero-waste event. Over 1000 meals were served. Additional data regarding the event are below:

  • Compost = 166 lbs
  • Mixed plastics & metal recycling = 114 lbs
  • Cardboard recycling = 60 lbs
  • Energy Bag/soft plastics = 17.5 lbs
  • Landfill = 16.8 lbs
  • Net Zero Waste Standard (soft plastics not recycled or composted): 91% diversion
  • Landfilled waste comes out to 0.017 lbs, or less than 8 grams, per person

Think Before You Print Campaign.

In October 2019, the LiveGreen Ambassadors conducted the “Think Before You Print” campaign to reduce unnecessary printing at the Medical Center. In 2018, the Medical Center printed over 13.2 million pages, which even when recycled, produces a substantial amount of waste.

Single-use battery recycling.

Single-use battery recycling began in 2013. Since then, over 24,400 pounds of batteries have been recycled. Currently, the Medical Center recycles nearly 7,000 pounds a year. More information about battery recycling can be found on the LiveGreen website.

*Hover over the pie graph for more information. Wedges in the pie graph may not necessarily equal current diversion rate due to rounding.

Upcoming Projects

Compost Pilot.

Planning is underway to begin piloting compost at the Nebraska Cafe in 2021.

Printing Efficiency Improvements.

The Medical Center is reducing paper consumption by making changes such as default duplex printing and by identifying and addressing processes that consume large quantities of paper


In 2016, the UNMC student senate voted to become a styrofoam-free food services campus by 2020. The Medical Center is actively reducing and replacing Styrofoam with environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Efficiency Improvements.

The Medical Center is identifying opportunities to improve how material is collected in an effort to improve the diversion rate and reduce staff time.

Our Goals