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Recycling FAQ

  • Does the CSUSM campus community have to recycle?

    Yes! All California government institutions, including colleges and universities, are required by law- AB341 to divert 75% of their waste from the landfills by 2020. Cal State San Marcos strives to make recycling as easy as possible on campus by providing side-by-side trash and recycle bins.

    If you have questions or suggestions for improvement please let us know as we are always looking for ways to improve our program.

  • What can CSUSM recycle?

    Cardboard & Paper
    • Aluminum cans
    • Aerosol bottles
    • Coffee containers
    • Tin cans
    • Foil
    • Pizza boxes
    • Paper cups & insulating sleeves
    • Color & white paper
    • Post-in notes
    • File folders
    • Cereal & food boxes
    • Juice & milk cartons
    Plastics 1 through 7
    • Bottles
    • Jars
    • Bottles
    • Cups & lids
    • Food containers
    • Rigid plastic

    **Empty containers of all food and liquids prior to disposal.**

    **NO plastic grocery bags or sandwich bags**

    Have questions or need additional information - contact or call 760-750-4625.

  • Does CSUSM recycle printer cartridges?

    Yes.  Campus collects used inkjet and laser jet printer cartridges for recycling.  Contact Distribution Services or call 760-750-4539 for assistance.

  • What about unwanted electronic items?

    Contact Distribution Services or call 760-750-4539 if you have electronic items you no longer want.

    • If the item is still working, it will either be re-used on campus or donated to charity.
    • If it is no longer functioning, it will be recycled as e-waste (electronic waste = anything that plugs in or takes batteries).

    Do not throw these items in the trash.

  • Does CSUSM recycle batteries?

    Yes. Campus provides several drop off locations to recycle used batteries.  SHS (x4502) provides this service, please visit their website for locations and additional details.

    Do not throw these items in the trash.

  • Does CSUSM have a composting program?

    Yes and no.  We have a pre-consumer composting operation that has been operational for several years. The program includes fruit and vegetable clippings from dining services, coffee grounds from Starbucks and Crash's Cafe and we have a few office areas that participate in the program.

    AB 1383 mandates that we reduce our organic waste to 50% of our 2014 rates by 2020 and to 75% by 2025.  In order to reduce our organic waste significantly we will need to implement a post-consumer composting program.  Post-consumer organic waste is leftover cooked food including meat and bones and can include other compostable items such as plates, utensils and napkins.  Currently we do not have a waste hauler in our area that provides this service.  However, EDCO anticipates having this service available early 2021. We look forward to implementing this program once service is available so we can divert this material from the landfill. In the interim we continue to look for viable opportunities to reduce our organic waste.

  • Does CSUSM have a reuse program?

    Yes. We collect extra office supplies (paper, 3-ring binders) and unwanted small office accessories (organizers, staplers) and offer them to the campus community for free.

    • If there is no use for these items on campus, we donate to charity.
    • If the item is broken, we recycle it or disassemble it, into recyclable parts.
    • Our last option is to throw it away.

    If you have items to donate to the reuse program, please contact We will make arrangemets to pick up your items and even bring boxes if needed.

    reuse items - win!

  • What items go in the trash?


    Although not a comprehensive list, below are the most commonly questioned items that should go in the trash.

    • Napkins, paper towels, and tissues
    • Plastic bags and plastic food wrap
    • Chip bags and snack bags (candy wrappers, granola bars)
    • Padded envelopes and packing bubbles
    • Stickers and adhesive paper
    • Transparencies and laminated paper
    • Astro-bright, high gloss & carbon paper
    • Picture frame glass and broken glass
    • Porcelain and ceramic items

    If there is a particular item you would like to ask about please contact - or call 760-750-4625.

  • Where do I recycle at CSUSM?

    We provide side-by-side trash and recycling recycling containers throughout campus inside classrooms, offices and many outside building areas.  To make recycling even easier, in 2017 we changed to "single stream" recycling where ALL recyclable material can be placed in the one container. Our waste hauler operates a sophisticated sorting facility to separate the different materials.

     outdoor trash cans

  • How often are the recyclables collected?

    • The large community use containers located both indoors and outdoors are serviced daily. 
    • Personal desk side recycle containers are to be emptied by user in to large community use containers.  Desk side recycle bins are not serviced by staff.
    • Please do not place food or drink containers in the desk side containers as they attract pests, use the large community use containers that are serviced daily.
    • To report an overfilled container that needs service please contact Facility Services at (760)750-4600.
  • When did CSUSM start a recycling program?

    In 1993 the following notice was issued to campus:

    "Starting in August 2, 1993, CSUSM will begin recycling. This recycling program is an aggressive campus-wide activity that will work to recycle a significant portion of our waste material. For your convenience, special color coded recycling containers will be located in convenient locations throughout the University. These containers will help you separate; office paper, cardboard, newspaper, glass, cans and plastic.Please refer to the CSUSM recycling brochure for a detailed list of what is recyclable. If you have any questions or comments please contact Ivalee Clark, at Support Services.

    We are asking for your participation in this program so that together we can help save our natural resources, and reduce the amount of material going to the landfill."