Waste Stream Management Bins at Cal Poly

Waste Stream Management

Did you know the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 30-40 percent of food goes to waste? This does not account for the other waste involved in food production like packaging. Campus Dining has made major strides over the years to reduce waste and divert it away from landfills.

Recycling at Cal Poly


Since 1990, recycling has been a major part of Campus Dining’s waste stream diversion program. There are recycling stations next to every trash can in our dining venues, and all of our kitchens have food scrap and recycling trash containers as a part of our back of house diversion program. We annually recycle 193,000 pounds of cardboard.

Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Campus Dining is very excited to participate in Cal Poly’s Zero Waste program. The goal of the program is to divert as much campus trash as possible away from landfills. Cal Poly already diverts 72 percent of its trash. The California State University Chancellor’s Office has ordered an additional reduction of the remaining 28 percent by the year 2020



In addition to recycling, Cal Poly composts. Every year, 230 tons of food scraps and coffee grounds are locally composted into nutrient-rich soil. We expect to divert even more waste in the future with our new Zero Waste stations that are part of the Zero Waste program. These waste receptacles are placed in our dining venues for students to sort their trash for composting, recycling and landfill.


Re-Use and More

Recycling and composting are a big part of Campus Dining’s waste diversion program. However, we also reduce waste in other ways. For example, we provide freshmen a free refillable tumbler with their dining plan to keep thousands of single-use cups out of landfills. We eliminated plastic bags and Styrofoam completely from campus. We purchase paper products that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to help reduce the environmental impact. In the last five years, we have worked directly with suppliers to turn 27 thousand gallons of recovered cooking oil into bio-diesel, soap or a supplement for animal feed.

How can you reduce your impact?


Say "No, thanks!" to plastic bags


Bring a set of utensils in your backpack and avoid the plastic ones


Bring your food in Tupperware, not plastic bags


Avoid products that use unnecessary packaging or containers


Buy products in bulk