Like with many health systems across the country, COVID-19 continued to impact UCLA Health’s sustainability efforts in 2021, specifically in waste diversion.

To mitigate this impact, its staff implemented a variety of innovative programs that included expanding its nationally recognized reusable isolation gown program to testing sites and clinics, implementing a paper towel composting program in restrooms and break rooms, diverting nearly 30,000 pounds from landfill and saving $310,000 through its medical device reprocessing program, and upcycling its surgical wrap to create masks through a community partnership with UC Irvine.

UCLA Health’s Santa Monica hospital continued purchasing 100% renewable energy through the Clean Power Alliance. It was able to reduce the number of operating room cases where desflurane — the most potent greenhouse gas anesthetic — was the primary gas to below 1%, saving more than $190,000 and achieving emissions reductions equivalent to taking 250 cars off the road. It increased the number of EV fleet vehicles that transport staff and patients to four and formed a climate resiliency and environmental justice committee in partnership with its Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion office. 

UCLA Health strengthed partnerships with the David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA School of Nursing to update the health curriculum to include climate change, environmental justice, health equity and the social determinants of health. Its partnerships with the Fielding School of Public Health and Healthy Climate Solutions teams seek to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on the most vulnerable populations in the greater Los Angeles area.


Student working on computer outside of UCLA Health building

Climate Change is Not Gender Neutral

The title of this blog post takes a phrase from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Globally, women have less economic, political and legal clout than men and are thus more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Hallway in UCLA Health Building with a view of the campus

Many Mountains to Climb: Rising Up to the Challenges of Climate Change, COVID and Racial Injustice

A blog post by James Evans, sustainability programs manager at UCLA Health, discusses the intersection of these issues.


Percent of total spend on food and beverages that was spent on sustainable food and beverage in 2020 and 201, with a 2030 goal of 30%.


This past year, UCLA Health purchased 26.8% of its food from sustainable sources and 12.5% from local sources. The health system expanded its plant-forward meal program in its cafeteria and catering and continued offering vegan menus to its patients to encourage healthier, environmentally conscious food choices.


UCLA Health increased its electrical vehicle fleet to four vehicles.

Riding a bike icon

of employees at the Santa Monica hospital are utilizing alternative commuting methods

Electric vehicle with charger icon

of light-duty vehicles acquired in 2021 were electric (zero-emission) or hybrid vehicles

ZERO WASTE – Generation

Bar graph depicting total waste generated divided into categories with a 2025 goal of 25% and a 2030 goal of 20%.


This past year, the health system diverted 25% of its waste. UCLA Health transitioned waste hauling and paper shredding vendors and improved its waste data validation of past years. The weights currently being used for composting estimates are lower than they were in the past, and this was the major factor that contributed to a lower diversion rate.


UCLA was the proud recipient of a Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Award in 2021.

A full list of awards is featured on the UC Office of the President’s website.

Combined Data

Progress on the following policy areas for this Health System are reported by the campus location: