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The Shift to Zero Waste

The Zero Waste Program introduces new forms of waste reduction and recycling programs for the University community

Students+disposing+their+trash+in+the+appropriate+bin
Students disposing their trash in the appropriate bin

Students disposing their trash in the appropriate bin

Aileen Espitia

Aileen Espitia

Students disposing their trash in the appropriate bin

Marcela Valdivia, Staff Reporter

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Cal State LA has developed a Zero Waste Program to implement waste reduction and recycling programs to fulfill the California State University (CSU) Sustainability Policy. These programs are designed to reduce solid waste disposal and move towards net zero waste.

“The State of California has established a goal that 75% of materials generated will be source reduced, recycled, or composted by the year 2020,” said Brad Haydel, Energy and Sustainability Manager Facilities, Planning, Design and Construction. “Therefore, state law requires that all large generators of recyclable and compostable materials divert these materials from landfills and incinerators.”

According to the Cal State LA’s Campus Sustainability Committee (CSC), this plan of action between local and global communities was created in 2016 to, “promote collaboration among faculty, students, and staff in the adoption of the best practices, policies, projects, and technologies to improve the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the campus community.”

“The Zero Waste Program supports the University’s educational mission by providing the campus community with opportunities to engage in discussions around recycling, composting and sustainability,” said Haydel. “The lessons learned from introducing the Zero Waste Program will have effects that reverberate through a wide array of communities for generations to come.”

Part of the recycling program at Cal State LA includes the solar-powered Bigbelly waste stations placed throughout campus. The implementation of these stations promotes student involvement in contributing to the overall zero waste goal that the University has set, while also displaying the difference between certain recyclables.

“Zero waste maximizes recycling, minimizes waste, reduces consumption, and ensures that products are made to be reused or recycled back into nature or the marketplace,” said Haydel.

Each station on campus has a blue and a black bin. The blue bins are designated for mixed recycling, such as mixed paper, metal containers, plastics, and cardboard. The black bins are for landfill trash. Students are encouraged to use the appropriate bin when tossing trash.

“Acknowledging that the move toward zero waste will be incremental and take time to achieve, the university’s approach will focus first on reducing waste at the source and maximizing diversion from landfills and incinerators. The overall goal focuses on striving for more sustainable materials management practices and a circular economy,” said Haydel.

The Zero Waste Program is designed to promote healthier living conditions by reducing  pollution in the air, water, and soil. Through use of the Bigbelly waste stations on campus, students contribute to this goal and make a difference, starting with the University itself.

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The Shift to Zero Waste