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Journey to Zero Waste

Composting at CSUSM!

Over the summer of 2020 Energy Management and Utility Services and The Compost Group partnered to launch a post-consumer (cooked and leftover food) composting program at the UVA with the few residents that remained on campus. The program expanded in the Fall to each of the buildings and serves as a pilot program to intergrate this new waste stream as a cultural norm for our campus.

During April of 2021, we started the program on campus at the patio area between Markstein Hall and University Hall and near the University Services Building area.  As the campus begins to repopulate the program will expand to other areas.

food scraps

Look for the green containers.
Food scraps and food soiled paper only!

One big step toward 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. Similar to learning where there is always more to learn, there will always be ways we can minimize the waste we produce and 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 in 2019.

  • 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 waste reduction is compliance with SB 1383 by implementing an organic material (compost) program.  We are working with our waste hauler to develop a large scale program as the campus returns to normal operations. Here's a link to their highly anticipated anaerobic digester.

  • 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!

Each Fall we host a Journey to Zero Waste Day event 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. 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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