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Journey to Zero Waste

Journey to Zero Waste Day!

In 2018 we updated our annual Thank You for Recycling Day event to Journey to Zero Waste Day. To encourage sustainability and reduce waste on campus we gave away stainless steel straws, bamboo utensil sets, water bottles made from recycled content and jar openers made from tires. We also gave back to the campus community approximately 40 boxes of office supplies and 3-ring binders.  We hosted over 650 attendees at this event. Many thanks to those whom helped make the event a success!

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


Become an educated consumer and really look at what you purchase.

Is it made of quality material? 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?


How to reduce what you put in the trash.

Ask yourself - do I really need this?  Look at the packaging, is there an option packaged in recyclable material? Can you buy a larger container and share with a friend so there's less waste? Request online purchases to be grouped for shipping so fewer boxes are used.


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 2017 UVA & The Quad donated over 1,400 lbs in non-perishable food to the Cougar Pantry. In addition, approximately 8,500 lbs of reusable products were donated to Goodwill.

A new program was also piloted to collect re-usable kitchen items during move-out.  Approximately 300 lbs of pans, cups, utensils were collected, held over the summer break then made available to residents at move-in for FREE!


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.

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!

As of the last 2 years, CSUSM has maintained a recycling rate of approximately 75%.  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.


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 currently working with our waste hauler to develop a large scale program.

In the interim, we will continue to 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.  In 2016 this averaged over 600 pounds a week of food waste.

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.

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

Zero Waste Plan

We are in the final stages of developing a Zero Waste Plan for the campus. The document will be posted here once finalized. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please reach out to Stephanie Hebert, Recycling and Sustainability Coordinator at or call 760-750-4625.

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