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. The California State University Chancellor’s sustainability policy says that Cal Poly must reduce per-capita landfill disposal 80 percent by 2020. Cal Poly achieved 86 perscent diversion in 2017 and is continuing towards zero waste.



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

Campus Dining provides first-year students with a free refillable tumbler and reusable cutlery with their dining plan to help keep thousands of single-use cups and utensils out of landfills. We have eliminated plastic bags and Styrofoam 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 biodiesel, soap or a supplement for animal feed.

Cal Poly Reusable Cutlery

Cal Poly Reusable Cutlery

Cal Poly-branded reusable cutlery helps us take another step towards our zero-waste goal. The spoon, knife and fork are made from AirCarbon a product that holds up perfectly in hot, cold and wet conditions, is dishwasher safe and home compostable. Made in the California, these utensils are composed of completely natural materials with no synthetic plastics and have been third-party verified as being completely carbon negative. These reusable cutlery sets will soon be available to purchase at Noodles in Vista Grande.

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