Waste streams

Dechetterie Flux © EPFL Alain Herzog
EPFL waste collection center flow © EPFL Alain Herzog

Waste streams represent the flow of waste from its source through to recovery, recycling or disposal. We always favor recycling, as long as it meets our sustainability standards, and have set up a waste management system based on our knowledge of our waste streams.

We have listed and monitor 40 waste streams at our campuses. The most sensitive of these is hazardous waste, which we manage in collaboration with our occupational health & safety department (OHS). This allows all EPFL units to safely dispose of their hazardous waste, which makes up 15% of our total waste and 30% of our allocated budget. We are always searching for the most up-to-date recycling processes.

Waste streams and outlets

This graphic is a guide to sorting flows for all types of waste. If you have any questions, please email Stephen Poplineau. Flow sorting guide (PDF, 1,4 MB)

Collection frequency

Our campus caretakers aim to dispose of waste in a clean, judicious way. They set up sorting systems and establish waste collection operations for predefined and recurring needs. However, each individual is responsible for sorting and disposing of their waste appropriately and to communicate any necessary information. This is a principle in environmental law that is commonly referred to as the polluter-pays principle. Our choice of waste transport and/or recycling companies is based on proximity, quality and trust. None of our suppliers are located more than 16 km away.

Our cleaning service provider has established an EcoPoint maintenance schedule based on the number of EcoPoints in use. Since September 2020, we have entrusted the maintenance of some of our EcoPoints to Fondation de Vernand – a non-profit organization that aims to help people with disabilities join the workforce. Since 2017, Fondation de Vernand has also been separating our electronic waste, of which we produce around 60 tons per year. These two initiatives combined create nearly 20 full-time equivalent positions for people who are looking to integrate into the workplace. Such concrete actions show how important waste recovery and recycling – and the work it generates – are to us, and they highlight the essential role of an age-old activity: sorting.

Since the waste storage capacity on our campuses is low, we collect it frequently: bi-weekly for organic waste and other waste (incinerable); weekly for paper, cardboard, PET, aluminum and biomedical waste; bi-monthly for mixed plastics and hazardous waste; and monthly for glass.

Certain types of waste do not have scheduled collection times and instead are stored at a main waste collection center until there is enough waste to fill a truck (i.e., a tray or container depending on the nature and packaging of the waste). These are mainly electrical equipment, electronic equipment, electrical materials and metals.


Claire Saout
[email protected]