Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.14
Liaison Kylee Singh
Submission Date July 10, 2023

STARS v2.2

California Polytechnic State University
OP-18: Waste Minimization and Diversion

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.13 / 8.00 Edgar Palacios
Energy and Sustainability Analyst
Facilities Management and Development
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures needed to determine total waste generated (and diverted):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Materials recycled 257.79 Tons 1,391 Tons
Materials composted 4,067 Tons 1,456 Tons
Materials donated or re-sold 97 Tons 114 Tons
Materials disposed through post-recycling residual conversion 0 Tons 0 Tons
Materials disposed in a solid waste landfill or incinerator 1,391.90 Tons 3,242 Tons
Total waste generated 5,813.69 Tons 6,203 Tons

A brief description of the residual conversion facility:


Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Period Jan. 1, 2021 Dec. 31, 2021
Baseline Period Jan. 1, 2008 Dec. 31, 2008

A brief description of when and why the waste generation baseline was adopted:

In order to report for CSU Sustainability policy the 2008 baseline was established because it is the earliest date with consistent and reliable data available.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users”:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 8,500 5,362
Number of employees resident on-site 18 14
Number of other individuals resident on-site 14 1
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 20,892 19,777
Full-time equivalent of employees 2,325 2,229
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 19,556.25 17,849.50

Total waste generated per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total waste generated per weighted campus user 0.30 Tons 0.35 Tons

Percentage reduction in total waste generated per weighted campus user from baseline:

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator by recycling, composting, donating or re-selling, performance year:

Percentage of materials diverted from the landfill or incinerator (including up to 10 percent attributable to post-recycling residual conversion):

In the waste figures reported above, has the institution recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold the following materials?:
Yes or No
Paper, plastics, glass, metals, and other recyclable containers Yes
Food Yes
Cooking oil Yes
Plant materials Yes
Animal bedding Yes
White goods (i.e. appliances) Yes
Electronics Yes
Laboratory equipment Yes
Furniture Yes
Residence hall move-in/move-out waste Yes
Scrap metal Yes
Pallets Yes
Tires Yes
Other (please specify below) Yes

A brief description of other materials the institution has recycled, composted, donated and/or re-sold:

- Mixed recycling (beverage containers, glass, narrow-necked plastic bottles 1 & 2, metal cans, mixed paper & cardboard) are collected in exterior and interior bins throughout the campus. The bins are then aggregated by custodians into the hauler wheeled carts or bins, collected by San Luis Garbage, and taken to the local MRF for sorting. The landfill residual from the MRF is accounted for in the Landfill disposal tons.
- Confidential shredding is collected on a bi-weekly basis by our waste technician team and shredded/collected by Vital Records Co.
- Copy and toner cartridges are aggregated in marked shipping boxes and collected by Ultrex, the local company managing the Konica Green Planet Toner Recyling program. Cal Poly has moved toward centralization of printers and no longer support personal printers. This improves the management and recycling of empty cartridges.
- Scrap metal and white goods are picked up from various locations on campus and dumped into hauler roll-off boxes that are then taken to the appropriate recycler. Bedford Enterprises, Inc. is our primary hauler for metal and white goods. 50% of Scrap metal to Bedford assumed as regular waste stream (white goods, furniture, etc.) and other 50% assumed to be construction and demolition.
- Pallets, wood and treated wood waste is handled by local vendors/haulers.
- Mattresses from campus student dormitories are collected by Gateway Mattress company for reuse or recycling.
- Sludge from agricultural ponds is spread over pasture on an irregular basis (every 2 - 3 years)
- Vehicle tires are collected by a certified tire hauler, SM Tires Inc., on an ongoing basis when they deliver goods & services to the campus.
- Construction debris removal is managed by the contractors which use the services of local haulers. Debris is sorted at the landfill or taken to a crushing facility.
- Grease and other rendered products are picked up by a local tallow company, Ameriguard, and taken to a digester for methane production.

Materials intended for disposal but subsequently recovered and reused on campus, performance year:
20 Tons

Does the institution use single stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Does the institution use dual stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Does the institution use multi-stream recycling to collect standard recyclables in common areas?:

Average contamination rate for the institution’s recycling program:

A brief description of any recycling quality control mechanisms employed:

Up to 2 times/year, Cal Poly works with the local Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to do a waste characterization study and calculate what percentage of collected recyclables are recyclable and what percentage are landfilled. During this process, opportunities for improvement are documented and implemented where feasible. E.g., the current high rate of contamination is mostly due to the collection of recyclables in clear bags, which the MRF has no way of opening thus are isolated and sent to the landfill.

In FY 21-22, the campus completed the implementation of a $225,000 Cal Recycle Grant to implement consistent signage around campus. In addition, exterior bins were purchased at high-traffic areas around campus.

A brief description of the institution's waste-related behavior change initiatives:

In 2018, a Zero Waste Ambassador program was started to allow student employees to attend Food/Waste heavy events and assist in the correct sorting of waste into three streams: landfill, recycle, and organics. Due to COVID-19 food events on campus significantly dropped in 2020 to spring 2022 and the student employee numbers slowly dwindled down to 0. Starting 2023, through College Corps funding we were able to obtain a student zero waste coordinator that assisted in the coordination of zero waste event support in three events this year: Open House, Ag Tailgate, and Sport event barbecue. The student will be returning for FY 23-24 and hopes to increase the number of zero waste events on campus.

In 2019, Cal Poly commenced a CP thrift program to collect Move-Out goods and redistribute during Move-In.This program did not take place in 2020 - 2022 due to COVID-19 and staffing issues but has been revived for Spring Move-Out 2023 buy the Green Campus student team and Housing staff.

A notable mentioned goes to a project that is in the works, Mustang Reuse Station. The Zero Waste student team within Green Campus is in pursuit of a temporary space to pilot a student reuse station that will allow for diversion and distribution of typical student population goods that are no longer needed. With limited space across campus, they are hoping to partner with ASI and make sure of a 10ftx15ft space in the university union.


A brief description of the institution's waste audits and other initiatives to assess its materials management efforts and identify areas for improvement:

Consumer bin waste audits are scheduled at minimum once a year. With the help of "Learn By Doing" class projects, student clubs, and student paid assistances target bins are chosen from around the campus, and all waste from a day, or several days, are gathered, sorted, and quantified by waste type.

A yearly waste service audit is conducted to ensure that the bin type and quantity matches the existing service that is paid for and is adequate for each location. High contamination and/or high trash volume locations are monitored for a set duration of time to better understand the waste volume and flow; changes are made to improve the contamination and overflow as necessary.

A brief description of the institution's procurement policies designed to prevent waste:

Numerous procurement policies are in place to challenge the need to buy items in the first place, and the material content of those items.

The CSU plastics policy includes the following provisions leading to less unrecyclable waste being procured on campus:
- By January 1st, 2019, plastic straws and single-use plastic bags must be eliminated.
- By January 1st, 2021, single-use polystyrene (e.g. STYROFOAM™) food service items must be eliminated.
- By January 1st, 2023, single-use plastic water bottles must be eliminated.


Another example is a new campus vehicle procurement policy that requires increased justification for vehicle procurement: https://afd.calpoly.edu/procure-to-pay/how-to-buy/vehicle

A brief description of the institution's surplus department or formal office supplies exchange program that facilitates reuse of materials:

The University is expected to dispose of usable equipment in a responsible manner under the guidance of Property Surplus. This is done via transfers on campus, to other universities, public sales, donations, recycling and salvage of parts.

For the CSU Administration of University Property Equipment Procedures, please visit:
-> https://afd.calpoly.edu/accounting-reporting/property-accounting
-> https://afd.calpoly.edu/accounting-reporting/forms

The University steps for moving to zero waste are:
1) The use of products that minimize the volume of trash sent to landfill or incinerators.
2) Participation in the CalRecycle Buy-Recycled program or equivalent.
3) Increasing recycled content purchases in all BuyRecycled program product categories.

For the CSU Sustainability Policy, please visit:
-> https://calstate.policystat.com/policy/6987526/latest/

For the CSU Buy Recycled Program, please visit:
-> https://www.calstate.edu/csu-system/doing-business-with-the-csu/contract-services-and-procurement/Pages/Environmental-and-Social-Sustainability.aspx

A brief description of the institution's platforms to encourage peer-to-peer exchange and reuse:

The university is working with IT and a third-party company to build a Cal Poly community only peer-to-peer item/product exchange platform similar to craigslist. The software was paid for in early 2023 and is currently in the deployment stage with hopes that it will be live by the end of 2023.

The Sustainable Fashion club and Green Campus team collaborate throughout the school year to host monthly Swap 'n' Shops located near high-traffice areas. Students can bring unwanted clothes/items and exchange them for other pieces.

A brief description of the institution's limits on paper and ink consumption:

The university is making a shift to using Adobe Sign for all important documents. In addition, the campus is moving away from supporting personal printers towards centralized printers, when needed. This allows for default printer settings to be implemented such as: double-side printing, black ink, etc...

A brief description of the institution's initiatives to make materials available online by default rather than printing them:

The university is making a shift to using Adobe Sign for all important documents. The campus sustainability reports, university class catalog, and more campus-wide notifications are all available online.

A brief description of the institution's program to reduce residence hall move-in/move-out waste:

CP Thrift, a student initiated reuse program, gathers donations at move-out and sorts into categories: non-perishable food going to campus and local foodbanks, clothing going to charitable organizations, and student-life equipment & accessories (mirrors, hangars, lamps, fans, etc.) are gathered, cleaned, stored over the summer, and "sold" on a donation basis to incoming freshman and returning students during fall move-in.

Housing also makes use of Goodwill donations boxes placed at various locations across their housing complexes.

A brief description of the institution's programs or initiatives to recover and reuse other materials intended for disposal:

In 2022, Cal Poly launched a pilot graduation gown re-use program intending to stem the throw-away of thousands of graduation gowns which are only worn for a few hours. This program will be expanded in 2023.

The Sustainable Fashion club and Green Campus team collaborate throughout the school year to host monthly Swap 'n' Shops located near high-traffice areas. Students can bring unwanted clothes/items and exchange them for other pieces.

Website URL where information about the institution’s waste minimization and diversion efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.