October 8, 2015

Contact: Eric Veium

Cal Poly Announces Zero Waste Pilot Program to Launch Oct. 12

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Zero Waste Recycling has come to Cal Poly. A pilot program begins Monday, Oct. 12, with collection containers installed at key locations — six dormitories, the student center, the campus’s busiest food court and in the library.

Each of these 27 stations will collect recyclables and trash and will include a new bin for compostable materials that previously ended up in the landfill. The new category includes all food scraps, napkins and compostable containers, drink cups and coffee cups.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this to the campus community,” said Dennis Elliot, Cal Poly’s director of Energy, Utilities, and Sustainability. “Every year we have received requests from students, faculty and staff to help the campus move toward a zero waste status. This pilot program will allow us to work out the kinks before we expand the system to the entire Cal Poly campus.”

Some 1,700 students who reside in the red-brick, South Mountain dorms — Trinity, Santa Lucia, Muir, Sequoia, Fremont and Tenaya halls — will see Zero Waste stations in the lobbies of their residence halls. Three smaller bins for recyclables, compostables and landfill-bound trash will be deployed to resident rooms later in October.

In additional, Zero Waste stations are available throughout the University Union, The Avenue food court and at Robert E. Kennedy Library.

The goal is to significantly divert the amount of campus trash that ends up in a landfill. Cal Poly already diverts 72 percent of its trash. The Chancellor’s Office has ordered an additional reduction of the remaining 28 percent by the year 2020.

“Within five years, we’ll need to divert 95 percent of all trash from the landfill,” Elliot said. “Cal Poly has been a leader in sustainability. We think this is achievable and something the campus will embrace.”

Quarterly surveys will review the results of the pilot program.

The campus community can expect to see banners and logos — Zero Waste, It’s In Your Hands — sprouting up throughout campus this month, which is Campus Sustainability Month.

With the addition of a third waste container, some confusion is bound to occur among students, faculty, staff and campus visitors, Elliot said. “When in doubt — recycle it,” he advised. “All of our recycling is sorted and only residual trash is sent to the landfill.”

For more info on Cal Poly Zero Waste Program, visit


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