Aiming To Achieve Zero Waste To Landfill

KAUST aims to achieve zero waste to landfill by effectively implementing waste management programs and strategies that encourage elimination, reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting of waste.

SDG 13 SDG 12 SDG 11

KAUST aims to achieve zero waste to landfill by effectively implementing waste management programs and strategies that encourage elimination, reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting of waste.



We provide waste management services to the entire township, including waste collection, recycling, and community outreach and engagement. Our waste collection fleet is equipped with technology that supports efficient operations, from online vehicle tracking to waste bin management. Small electric vehicles are used where possible for city cleaning and supervision.

Our Reuse and Recycling Center is the hub of the community’s waste management activity and operations.


Waste avoidance and reuse are at the top of KAUST’s waste hierarchy as our most preferred option. Community residents are encouraged to drop usable, unwanted items in the re-use collection point at the Recycling Center. They can also request collection of any oversized items from their residential units.

Recycling at source is fully integrated into our waste management program. Recycling bins are located at waste generation points including University offices, facilities buildings, outdoor spaces, and residential units.

The Waste Services team uses the latest technology and equipment to efficiently collect source-segregated waste, track its vehicles, weigh collected waste, and monitor and analyze waste data. This pipeline ensures that all types of waste are reduced and recycled to the greatest extent possible, keeping most recyclables and compostables out of landfills.

At the Reuse and Recycling Center, waste is segregated into the following waste streams:

  • Commingled recyclables
  • General waste
  • Organic waste

Specific types of waste are also collected and segregated:

  • Batteries
  • Light bulbs
  • Toner cartridges
  • Coffee capsules/pods
  • Cooking oil
  • Vehicle oil
  • Items for donation and reuse

Waste collection is centrally controlled from the waste management control room. Collection frequency is continuously optimized based on trend analysis and to minimize emissions from collection vehicles.

Waste bins are sanitized inside a special-purpose vehicle that re-uses and recycles resulting wastewater, significantly reducing water needs.

By partnering with well-regarded registered charitable organizations in Saudi Arabia, KAUST is able to donate reusable items such as wearables, books, and toys. Collected reusables are also sold at KAUST’s Thrift Shop-Second Chance.


In 2022 (Jan-July), we recycled around 25% (1,256 mt) of our municipal solid waste. We anticipate that our waste recycling rate will further improve this year as we plan to introduce focused waste management initiatives, and operation optimization measures, and also expand our composting program.

KAUST ensures that single-stream recycling stations are located throughout the community to support better source segregation of recyclable waste.

Our community includes a huge total area of green space (around 1.3 million square meters of landscaped area), including a golf course, a football stadium, parks, and gardens. The significant amount of gardening waste produced in maintaining our green spaces (around 40%-45% of total waste) is source-segregated and collected separately.



KAUST partners with Edama Organic Solutions, a spin-off company, to compost all our compostable waste. Edama operates a recently inaugurated on-site composting plant and is expected to process all of the universities food and green waste.

By composting our horticulture waste alone, we will divert from around 60% to 70% of our waste from landfills. The resulting Edama Desert Compost will be used at our green spaces, further reducing the need for artificial fertilizers, chemical inputs, and irrigation.


KAUST’s Facilities Management team routinely organize awareness campaigns for local students and the community. Initiatives include beach and shore clean-ups, tours of the Recycling Center, waste-to-art exhibitions, up-cycling workshops and activities, and awareness-building contests at selected events.

We also sponsor incentive-based initiatives promoting good waste management practices, both on campus and in neighboring residential areas.

The Recycling Champion is a rewards and recognition initiative for the community members who demonstrate good recycling practices at home. Every three months, based on set criteria, three recycling champions are recognized and rewarded for their commitment to recycling. This program also allows us to monitor residential waste recycling trends—for example, recyclable segregating practices and recycling-to-total-waste percentages. The program is currently suspended as it is being revised and updated.


The Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) is another incentive-based recycling system installed at the campus diner.
Patrons can deposit any empty single-use beverage container or can-shaped object in return for RVM points, which can be exchanged for rewards.