Hepner Hall

Zero Waste

San Diego State University is building a world class recycling program - but we need your help. Our local recycler and hauler, EDCO, can recycle almost everything. Pre-consumer food waste and yard waste is composted. Business Services collects campus surplus that can be redistributed, sold, or donated to encourage reuse. Environmental Health & Safety collects batteries, bulbs and hazardous waste.

Facilities Services custodial and landscape services staff collects general recycling and waste from across campus. To improve sorting, recycling containers use clear bags and landfill containers use black bags. Custodians place the bins into their carts and then to the dumpsters. Recycling containers and dumpsters are blue while landfill containers and dumpsters are typically black. This provides a chain of custody throughout the process to ensure that recyclables end up at a recycling facility and get turned into new items. You may see custodians put black and clear bags into the same cart. These bags are separated at the dumpster.

How It Works

Waste disposal guidelines are below; full, printable guidelines are also available. Post in your room or office for personal reference and to help increase awareness of the correct recycling rules on campus! When in doubt, recycle (except for foods, liquids, and plastic bags).

What to Recycle


Post-consumer composting is not yet available campuswide. Associated Students has a pilot project to do limited composting on campus. Where compost bins are available, please use guidelines below.

A text version of the guidelines is available below and will be kept up to date. If you have any questions on material disposal, please contact us.

Paper (non-waxed/lightly-soiled ok)

  • newspaper
  • magazines
  • cardboard
  • pizza boxes
  • 100% paper cups (including Starbucks, Big City Bagels, and Juice It Up)
  • paper plates
  • office paper
  • paper bags

Cartons (no liquids)

  • soup/broth containers
  • milk cartons
  • juice cartons

Metal (no liquids)

  • aluminum/tin cans
  • empty aerosol cans
  • aluminum trays/bowls
  • aluminum foil
  • scrap metal

Glass (all colors)

  • glass bottles and jars

Plastic (all numbers)

  • plastic bottles & jars
  • plastic yogurt/dairy tubs
  • plastic food containers
  • plastic caps

Styrofoam Containers and Packaging (no peanuts)

Heavily-soiled: paper, bags, plastic wrap, and foil

Paper towels, napkins, and tissues

Disposable cups and lids without a recycling number (including plastic creamer cups)

Chip bags, food wrappers, and bread clips

Glass shards or mirrors

Plastic straws, utensils, rubber bands, and twist ties

Clean Plastic Bags, Wrap, and Gloves

  • Reuse
  • Return to store
  • Drop-off on campus (coming soon)

Batteries and Light Bulbs

  • Call EH&S at (619) 594-6778 for proper disposal

University Surplus (Toner cartridges, electronics, books, and furniture)

  • Call Business Services at (619) 594-0741 for proper disposal

E-Waste (including students)

  • Call Business Services at (619) 594-0741 for proper disposal
Hydration Station

Hydration Stations provide an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to enjoy cold, filtered water without needing to buy bottled water. This reduces waste, conserves water, and saves money for users. Housing has installed hydration stations on throughout the residence halls, while Associated Students and Facilities Services have partnered to provide them across campus.

SDSU has an advanced system to measure recycling. Each time a recycling or landfill dumpster is emptied, the contents are weighed. This allows us to measure recycling/diversion rates on an almost building level basis. A diversion rate is the percentage of material that does not end up in the landfill. This includes material that is recycled, composted, or reused.

During move-in 2016, 98.6% of all materials generated was recycled! For move-out in 2015, 70% of materials was either recycled or donated to the Disabled American Veterans and the San Diego Food Bank.

Detailed information is available in the Metrics Section.

Sustainable SDSU has partnered with students to develop wraps to beautiful older concrete recycling bins. The first design was selected from a contest and the most recent have come from a partnership with Prof. Gary Benzel's graphic design class. All submitted designs can be found here.

  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle (in that order).
  • Print double-sided with narrow margins.
  • Use reusable bottles, containers, and flatware.
  • Frequently visit campus hydration stations.
  • Follow campus recycling guidelines.