What goes where?

Educating our community on how and where to properly dispose of different types of waste is critical to moving towards Zero Waste at Cal Poly. Follow the steps below when you are throwing something away.

First, ask yourself if it can be reused.

Many items can be reused or repurposed instead of being thrown away. For example, refill your drink cup next time you are thirsty or save that Subway bag for the next time you get a sandwich!

Then, if you must throw it away, ask yourself:

Is it compost?

  • All food scraps
  • Wooden utensils
  • Soiled napkins
  • Containers from Vista Grande

Is it recyclable?

  • Cardboard
  • Clean paper
  • Metal and aluminum cans and pans
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Plastic bottles and cups
  • Other rigid plastics

Is it trash?

  • Hot coffee cups
  • Chip bags and candy wrappers
  • Plastic bags and wrap
  • Plastic utensils and straws
  • "Compostable" plastics and products
  • Styrofoam
For a more comprehensive list of what is recyclable at Cal Poly and throughout SLO County, visit the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) website.

Tips for proper handling of hard-to-recycle materials

  • Shredded Paper can be collected in regular recycling bins, but only if the shredding is contained in clear bags tied off at the top. This keeps the shredded paper clean and separate from all the other commodities. Shredded paper is the only case where tied-off clear plastic bags should be used to gather recycling. Otherwise, don't put plastic bags in the recycling bins. If the bag full of shredded paper is too large to place into the hallway recycling bin, set it neatly to one side for collection by custodians.
  • Cardboard Boxes that are too large to easily fit in the recycle bins may be collapsed and set next to recycle bins for nightly collection.
  • Food Waste can be collected in central locations for composting at the new SLO anaerobic digester. Contact Anastasia Nicole at 805-756-1029 if you are interested in starting compost collection in your department's breakroom. If you have leftovers from a catered event be sure to donate to the Cal Poly Food Pantry in the lower level of Building 27.
  • Printer toner cartridges will be recycled rather than ending up in the landfill using the Clean Planet Program administered by Ultrex, Cal Poly’s photocopier provider. Ultrex will place a Konica Minolta Clean Planet Box by each multi-function copier for empty toner cartridges of any brand – Konica, Dell, HP, Brother, etc. When full, please e-mail dispatch@ultrex.net or phone 805-783-1234 and request that the box be exchanged with a new one. Include your name and phone number, the Equipment ID number (from the sticker on the front of the copier), and the building and room number to ensure fast and accurate service.
  • Batteries may be recycled by placing in an envelope and mailing or delivering to the Cal Poly State Warehouse, adjacent to Building 70. For larger quantities, please contact the Facilities Help Desk at 805-756-5555 or Environmental Health and Safety at 805-756-6662 for a battery collection bucket.
  • E-Waste such as computers, power strips, cell phones, and other electronic devices – should never be thrown in the garbage. Cal Poly electronic waste is collected in the same manner as other campus surplus property. Visit the Cal Poly Moving and Surplus site to determine the appropriate procedure for “state tagged or non-tagged miscellaneous surplus items” or contact the Facilities Help Desk at 805-756-5555 or the Moving and Surplus office at 805-756-5449 if you have questions.

Non-recyclable materials that need special handling:

  • Fluorescent Tubes and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) contain mercury; call Facilities Help Desk at 805-756-5555 or Environmental Health and Safety at 805-756-666 to arrange collection for proper disposal.
  • Asbestos and Lead may only be handled by trained and certified personnel. If you believe asbestos or lead containing materials have been damaged or disturbed, please contact the Facilities Help Desk at 805-756-5555 or Environmental Health and Safety at 805-756-6662.
  • Chemical waste is handled by the Environmental Health and Safety office. If you need to dispose of chemical waste, please the Facilities Help Desk at 805-756-5555 or Environmental Health and Safety at 805-756-6662.