University of Kentucky Recycling on Track to Meet Sustainability Goals

LEXINGTON, KY – The University of Kentucky (UK) has a target of diverting 50 percent of its waste from the landfill by 2022. This goal — which means working to recycle, donate, reuse or compost at least as much material as it landfills — is part of the UK Sustainability Strategic Plan. UK Recycling is leading the university’s efforts on this front and works diligently with partners throughout campus to increase recycling and reduce the university’s landfill waste. Data from 2019 highlights significant progress toward this goal.

In 2018, the university's diversion rate was 27 percent. UK Recycling is pleased to announce that the diversion rate increased to 34 percent in 2019, and that UK is on track to hit its goal of diverting half of its waste by 2022.

Compared to 2018, there was a 9 percent decrease — nearly 2 million pounds — in the amount of material UK sent to a landfill in 2019. This is the largest year-to-year drop in landfill weights the university has had in recent years. This decrease is especially noteworthy given the continued growth of the campus.

The university also made significant progress in these areas:

  • There was a 17 percent increase in general recycling, translating to an additional 370,000 pounds of material recycled compared to the previous year. This recycling stream includes mixed office paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and jugs, steel cans, and glass bottles and jars.
  • Over 120,000 pounds of food waste were captured in the first six months of the new food waste collection and composting program. This program is a partnership with UK Dining and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
  • There was a 72 percent increase in donations and reuse resulting in 1.1 million more pounds of material than the previous year. UK Housing and UK Surplus were key partners in this effort.
  • Thanks to UK Grounds, over 670,000 pounds of leaves, logs, branches and other plant material was diverted from the landfill and composted. A portion of that compost was brought back to campus as a soil amendment.
  • Thanks to a strong partnership with UK HealthCare, there was an 88 percent increase in Blue Wrap recycling. Blue Wrap is a plastic fabric used to wrap surgical instruments for sterilization at UK HealthCare that, until recently, was not being recycled.

For more information about UK recycling and the university’s waste reduction goals visit and follow @UKYRecycles on social media.

About The University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of “America's Best Employers.”