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Zero Waste

Zero waste hierarchy of most preferable means of waste versus least preferable.


Achieve Zero Waste by 2025 - to reach a 90% diversion rate; minimizing our overall waste and increase recycling and composting efforts.


In 2023, we:

  • Diverted and re-distributed 5,654 pounds of office supplies from going to the landfill through our Zero Waste Program.
  • Diverted 10,574 pounds of student dorm items from going to the landfill through Crash's Clean Out Program.
Compost by Year (tons)
Year Compost in Tons
2021 33.66
2022 77.46
2023 154.32


More information and resources to help our Journey to Zero Waste:

What CSUSM Can Recycle and Compost

  • Compost

    CSUSM is now offering composting around campus! Please look for the green bins located inside the USU and around campus. 

    What CSUSM Can Compost

    • Cooked and uncooked food
    • Bones and meat
    • Used napkins
    • Vegetable and fruit peelings
    • Paper plates and other soiled paper products
    • Coffee grounds & filters

    What CSUSM CANNOT Compost

    • Plastic 1-7
    • Silverware 
    • Soft Plastic 
    • Cups and lids
    • Cans
    • Glass
  • Recycling

    What CSUSM Can Recycle

    PLASTICS 1-7

    • Bottles
    • Cups and lids
    • Food containers 
    • Yogurt containers
    • Rigid plastic


    • Aluminum
    • Aerosol 
    • Coffee Containers
    • Tin Cans
    • Foil


    • Bottles 
    • Jars


    • Cereal and food boxes
    • Juice and milk cartons
    • Paper cups and insulating sleeves
    • Color and white paper
    • Post-it notes
    • File Folders

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

    What CSUSM CANNOT Recycle

    • Plastic bags and plastic food wrap
    • Napkins, paper towels, and tissues
    • Chip bags and food wrappers (gum, granola bars, etc.)
    • Padded envelopes and packing bubbles
    • Stickers and adhesive paper
    • Astro-bright, high gloss & carbon paper
    • Transparencies and laminated paper
    • Picture frame glass and broken glass
    • Porcelain and ceramic items
    • Straws; all our straws are now 100% compostable and cannot be recycled
  • Landfill

    What Goes to Landfill

    • Utensils
    • Masks & Gloves
    • Candy/snack wrappers
    • Gum
    • Plastic bags 
    • Saran wrap
    • Everything else that can't be recycled or composted

    What DOES NOT go to Landfill 

    • Cans
    • Glass
    • Food scraps 
    • Plastics 1-7
    • Paper
    • Cardboard
  • Battery Recycling

    This program is designed to capture all spent batteries generated on campus. Please do NOT deposit spent batteries that are generated off campus, i.e. home, or send batteries through intra-campus mail. Batteries come in various shapes, sizes and materials. Ensure that the spent batteries being discarded match the description below. Batteries ACCEPTED in this program are:

    Alkaline, Lithium (Li-ion), Nickel Cadmium (NiCd),  and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) (AA, AAA, C, D, 9-Volt, & Button Cell)

    All batteries MUST have the terminal ends taped with electrical tape. A roll of electrical tape and a pair of scissors should be available next to the spent battery container. If the pair of scissors is missing or you need more electrical tape, contact Safety, Health & Sustainability.

    For batteries that don’t match the description noted above (i.e. small sealed lead batteries), these would need to be managed separately. Please call Safety, Risk & Sustainability at 760-750-4502 or email to have this done.

    Battery Drop-Off Locations:

    • Arts Building 239A
    • Common 201
    • Administrative 2301, 4600, 4700, 6119, & 6231
    • VEP 106 (Break Room)
    • Kellogg Library 3011
    • Markstein 256 & 346
    • McMahan House
    • Science Hall I 313 & 314
    • Science Hall II Faculty Offices 1st - 3rd Floors & 247A
    • Social & Behavioral Science Building 3220 & 4220
    • Student Health & Counseling Services Break Room
    • University Hall 321 & 322B
    • University Services Building E-waste Area
    • University Student Union 2430, USU, 3500, USU East Wing Reception Desk, & USU Mail Room
    • University Village Apartments Front Counter
  • Electronic Waste (E-Waste)

    CSUSM recycles the following campus generated E-Waste: 

    • Computer Monitors
    • Computer Speakers
    • CRT Monitors
    • Telephones
    • Stereo Equipment
    • LCD Monitors
    • Cell Phones
    • Keyboards/Mice Laptops
    • Copiers/Printers
    • Scanners
    • Televisions
    • Fax Machine
    • Miscellaneous Wiring
    • Plasma Screens/TVs
    • MP3 Players
    • Items with Electronic Boards
    • DVD Players
    • VCRs

    We do not accept: Household/commercial appliances or hazardous materials/waste. All personal data is erased or destroyed for your protection.  

    Contact the Property Control at 760-750-4535, or email Distribution Services at

  • Light Bulbs

    CSUSM recycles:

    • Fluorescent light tubes and bulbs
    • Compact fluorescent light bulbs
    • LED lights
    • High-intensity discharge lamps
    • Ballasts 

    Contact Facility Services at 760-750-4600 for pick up. 

  • Printer and Printer Ink Cartridges

    CSUSM recycles used printers, and used inkjet and laser jet printer cartridges.

    Contact Property Control at 760-750-4535 for pick-up, or email Distribution Services at  

  • Plastic Film

    CSUSM now has a Pilot Plastic Film Recycling program in partnership Plastic Beach Retail Recycling. This non-profit organization will transform plastic film waste into composite decking material through Trex.

    Plastic film includes:

    • All #4 and #2 labeled plastic
    • Bubble wrap
    • Plastic packaging
    • Air pillows
    • Any other kind of soft plastic

    Request to have your plastic film picked up and recycled 

Additional Resources