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Zero Waste

SMCCCD is committed to doing their part to divert waste hauled to the landfill by offering indoor and outdoor recycling. In compliance with AB 1826 (Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling), starting in Fall 2017 composting was introduced.  Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College all now offer three waste streams: Recycle, Compost, and Landfill.  

Student-led waste audits at each campus have revealed that 75-90% of campus waste streams can be diverted from the landfill.  The waste audits also exposed large amounts of contamination (for example, landfill and compost items in recycle bins) and student surveys have shown that increased outreach and education would be effective in increasing waste diversion.

The Zero Waste Program also provides educational opportunities to incorporate campus as a living lab activities, such as waste audits, field trips, bin audits, communications, and graphic design to give students hands-on experience to not only make a difference on campus, but in the greater local and global communities.

Below are descriptions of SMCCCD's waste system services followed by a list of items that can go in each bin:


Recycle is the process of converting waste into a reusable material.

Recycle bins are placed on the exterior and interior of campus. In buildings, recycle bins are located in offices, hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria.  SMCCCD has single stream recycling, meaning all recycling can go in one bin and does not need to be separated (i.e. paper does not need to be separate from plastic water bottles). 


Compost is decayed organic material reused as plant fertilizer.

Beginning in the Fall of 2017, composting was introduced starting with cafeterias (pre consumer - kitchen, and post-consumer - cafeteria) and restrooms.  Composting will be introduced throughout the entire campuses in a series of stages post cafeterias and restrooms in the following order: Breakrooms, hallways, outdoors.


Landfill is an area of land where waste is buried if not recycled or composted.

Landfill waste is expensive to haul and is harmful to the local and global environment. Reducing the amount of waste produced at our campus would greatly reduce operational costs as well as reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions produced in the local landfill.

 List of Items that Can Go in Each Bin


Aluminum Foil
Cardboard Box
Catalogs/Small Books
Coffee Sleeve
Egg Carton
Glass Bottle
Junk Mail
Laundry Detergent Bottle
Milk Carton
Paper Notebooks
Rigid Plastic Containers Labeled 1-7
Plastic To-go Container
Shredded Paper
Soda Can
Toilet Paper Rolls
To-Go Coffee Lid
Yogurt Container


Apple Core
Banana Peel
BPI Certified Compostable Cups and Containers
Burger Leftovers
Burrito Leftovers
Chicken Drumstick
Coffee Grounds
Coffee Stir Sticks
Compostable Utensils
Dead Flowers
Food Soiled Napkin
Food Soiled Paper Plate
Greasy Pizza Box
Liquid Soiled Paper Cup
Orange Peel
Paper To-go Box
Pizza Leftovers
Used Paper Towel
Used Tea Bag


Black Plastic Material
Broken Pencil
Disposable Plastic Utensils
Juice Pouch
Chip or Snack Bag
Coffee Matte creamer cups
Granola Bar Wrapper
Ketchup Packet
Latex Gloves
Pens (out of ink)
Plastic Grocery Bag
Plastic Straw
Plastic Tape
Plastic Utensils
Plastic Wrap
Rubber Bands
Styrofoam Cup, Container, or Packing Material
Thin Plastic Packaging
Ziploc Bag

Hazardous waste items must be thrown out separately and those items include: batteries, broken or old electronics, light bulbs, and paint.  Please contact campus Facilities Managers to schedule a special pickup for these items.

Recycling and composting send less waste to the landfill, but overall waste reduction and sustainable sourcing through green purchasing, reuse, and repair, are also key to reaching SMCCCD’s Zero Waste goals.

As the SMCCCD Zero Waste Program is being developed, additional waste services will be provided to faculty, staff, and students in the future and will be outlined in the SMCCCD Zero Waste Program document (currently being drafted). If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email Hilary Ego at