Recycling and Composting


Our Cal Poly recycling stream is "co-mingled," meaning all locally recyclable materials - cardboard and paper as well as plastic narrow-necked bottles, glass bottles & metal containers - can be mixed together in bins labeled "recycling". The collected recyclable materials are sent to the Cold Canyon Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in San Luis Obispo County for sorting & baling. For a comprehensive list of what is recyclable at Cal Poly and throughout SLO County, visit the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) website or jump to What Goes Where?


Campus Dining and Facilities Management and Development partner with San Luis Garbage to have our pre-consumer (Dining back-of-house) and post-consumer food scraps composted. The materials are collected in green carts and taken to the local Hitachi-Zozen Anaerobic Digester to produce clean energy and compost for local farms. About 230 tons of food scraps from Campus Dining are composted annually. Unfortunately, no local compost facilities accept compostable items (napkins, paper plates, compostable cups and serveware). Therefore, the campus has opted to pursue Food and Green-Waste-only collection at public locations.

Food Waste to Local Energy

Food scraps are collected at numerous locations throughout campus to send to the SLO anaerobic digestor run by Hitachi Zozen Inova LLC. Food scrap collection is available in campus student apartments on an opt-in basis to ensure the highest quality & least contamination. In addition to collection at Vista Grande and Dining locations, additional compost collection locations include staff break rooms, Kennedy Library, ASI, Food Processing, the ASI Children’s Center, and from other Zero Waste station bins marked “Food Waste Only.” The food waste materials are collected by San Luis Garbage and hauled to the anerobic digestor near the SLO airport, where they are conveyed into a giant rotating drum, digested, and the resulting methane captured to run turbines. After the digestion process is complete, the remaining materials are composted in static aerated piles for an additional 3 weeks, and the resulting compost is sold to local farms as a soil amendment.

Animal Manure & Green Waste Composting

On an annual basis, CAFES animal operations produce approximately seven million pounds of manure. Cal Poly Agriculture Operations performs onsite composting of the manure, along with approximately 2,500 cubic yards of green waste generated from campus landscaping maintenance. The resulting 3,500 cubic yards of finished compost is used on the student-run Organic Farm, campus landscaping, and Cal Poly crops for soil amendment, reducing the need for chemical fertilizer. To find out more about Cal Poly Compost or place an order, call Ag Operations at 805-756-2548.