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Journey to Zero Waste

Composting at CSUSM!

While most of campus is working remote, the USU is still operating at low capacity to provide food for our on campus residents.  The pre-consumer food waste from the kitchen preparation area is being composted by our Facility Services staff.

We anticipate launching a full post-consumer (cooked and left over food) composting program in January 2021!

food scraps

Look for the green containers.
Food scraps only!

One more step towards zero waste!
Questions or comments:


Our recycling program has evolved from "reduce, reuse, recycle" to a more definitive methodology to minimize waste produced on campus. Members from several CSU campuses collaborated to develop the following zero waste hierarchy: rethink, reduce, reuse/return, recycle/compost, responsible disposal.

A zero waste goal does not mean there is no waste, it is a "functional zero" meaning the campus operates to continually reduce how much waste we send to the landfill.

  • Rethink

    Become an educated consumer and really evaluate what you purchase.

    Is it made of quality material? Don't buy something just because it's cheap and on sale. Is there an option made from recycled content? How many times will it be used? How will it be disposed when you no longer want it?  Don't buy styrofoam, it never goes away!

  • Reduce

    How to reduce what you put in the trash.

    Ask yourself - do I really need this? Will a reusable container work instead of a one time use snack bag? Request online purchases to be grouped for shipping so fewer boxes are used.

    In an effort to reduce single use plastic on our campus Energy Management & Utility Services has distributed over 1,100 sets of bamboo utensil sets and 700 metals straws over the past year.

  • Reuse/Return

    Evaluate what you put in the trash.

    Is it really trash? Or is the item still usable?  Can someone else use it?  Can it be donated or repaired?

    During Move-Out in May 2019 UVA & The Quad donated over 2,400 lbs in non-perishable food to the Cougar Pantry. In addition, over 14,500 lbs of reusable items were donated to Goodwill.

    For our 2nd year collecting for our dormitory re-use program over 1,100lbs was diverted from the landfill.  In addition to kitchen items (pans, cups, utensils) we also collected other household items such as fans, mirrors and hangers.

    This items were re-distributed to residents at move-in for FREE!

  • Recycle

    Please ask if you have any questions on recycling -

    Are you placing recyclable items in the trash? Our waste hauler makes recycling super easy. We can recycle metal, plastic, paper and cardboard all in one container.

    Do you want to see where our recycling goes? Here's a link to see the off-site sorting facility.

    All materials with a recycle triangle can be recycled with the only exception being plastic films (like grocery bags, food wrap, shipping air bags, etc).  Make sure you toss your recycle materials in the recycle bins and keep it out of the landfill!

    While we currently meet the Assembly Bill 341 mandate, we are continually looking for opportunities to reduce our impact on local landfills and meet our goal of becoming a Zero Waste campus by 2025.

  • Compost/Organics

    As a campus, our next major step in recycling is preemptively achieving AB 1826; a phased implementation to removing organic material (compost) from landfill disposal.  We are working with our waste hauler to develop a large scale program. Here's a link to their highly anticipated anaerobic digester.

    In the interim, we compost all coffee grounds and pre-consumer food waste (fruit and vegetable peels) from Dining Services, on campus coffee areas and a few small office areas.  This averages about 700 pounds a week when school is in session.

  • Responsible Disposal

    Batteries, e-waste (anything that plugs in or takes batteries) and inkjet/printer cartridges do not go in the trash. The campus collects these items to keep them out of the landfill and uses vendors to ensure they are properly disposed of and/or recycled.

    We also have programs that work behind the scenes to properly dispose of the campus's landscaping waste and construction debris.

    Have questions?

Journey to Zero Waste Day!

In 2018 we updated our annual Thank You for Recycling Day event to Journey to Zero Waste Day. The event is in the Fall during U-hour in front of University Hall.

To encourage sustainability and reduce waste on campus we give away re-usable snack bags, stainless steel straws, bamboo utensil sets, water bottles made from recycled content and jar openers made from tires. Each year we also provide gently used office supplies and 3-ring binders to our campus community.  Many thanks to those whom helped make the event a success! We hope to see you at the next one!

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