Santa Clara University


Frequently Asked Questions

 Compost. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.

Find out how, where, and what to compost on and off campus. Compost FAQs.

 Recycling. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.

All plastics, metals, glass, and paper can be recycled on campus. Recycling FAQs.

 Landfill. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.

Chip bags, wrappers, and off-campus disposable items can be placed in landfill bins on campus. Landfill FAQs.

 Electronics. Photo courtesy of UC Merced 2012.

Find out how to properly donate, recycle, or dispose of your electronics here. Electronics FAQs.

 Office supplies. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.
Office Supplies

Have old office supplies that you no longer need? There are many recycling options you can take. Office Supplies FAQs.

 Batteries and ink cartridges. Photo courtesy of UC Merced 2012.
Universal Waste

Waste such as CDs, batteries and ink cartridges need to be recycled separately. Universal Waste FAQs.

 Donations. Photo from Pixabay.

Find out how to donate unwanted items such as books, clothes, and other supplies. Donations FAQs.

 Plastics. Photo courtesy of UC Merced 2012.

All plastics, including thin-film plastics, can be recycled on campus. Candy wrappers and chip bags must be sent to landfill. Plastics FAQs.

 Move-out. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.

Find information for Spring Move-Out here. Move-out FAQs.


Frequently Asked Questions about Recycling, Composting, and Waste

The SCU community can e-mail their questions about recycling, composting, and waste on campus. This blog will provide answers to those questions.

What do I do with clothes that aren't in good enough condition to donate to places like Goodwill?

Organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army are happy to accept clothes in 'good' condition, which means they shouldn't be ripped or stained. However, for those clothes that have seen better days, there are still a number of options that will put them to good use:

  • 7th Generation Recycling accepts cotton clothing scraps, along with used clothing or textile items like pants, dresses, hats, shirts, drapes, curtains, blankets, towels, sheets, handbags, belts, paired shoes, and even stuffed animals! Conveniently, they have a green collection bin located on Lafayette St. near Frozo's.
  • Contact your local animal hospital. Some will accept clothing scraps to use as bedding for hospitalized animals.  

You can also reuse old clothes in the following ways around your home: 

  • Old tshirts are great to cut up and reuse as cleaning rags.
  • Use them in arts and crafts projects.
  • Save the buttons in case you lose some from your other clothes.

Be creative! These are only a few suggestions out of an infinite number of possibilities for reuse!

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Are CD's recyclable?

Currently, our Facilities department does not accept CD's as recyclable materials. However, there are a couple different options for you to recycle or reuse CD's:

  • If you're getting rid of store bought CD's (with the case and paper insert), you can donate them to a used CD store, or bring them to Goodwill/Salvation Army.
  • Or, you can send them to: 

             The Compact Disc Recycling Center of America
             68H Stiles Road
              Salem, NH 03079 

              This center will recycle the case and paper insert as well!

  • If you want to really get creative, here is a page with lots of suggestions for how to reuse the disk.  


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I'm always washing my reusable coffee cup and drying with paper towels. Are we sure that's better for for the environment than tossing paper cups?

Water is part of a cycle. The water cycle is a natural process, rain flows to rivers, rivers flow to bays, water is evaporated and forms precipitation as rain, etc. We manipulate the system with our municipal utilities (like using tap water) but, used (or wasted) water ultimately goes down the drain and out into the bay, and back into the water cycle. Yes, it's good to conserve water use. But when comparing to other wasteful practices, it's important to consider the larger system/cycle.

Paper cups aren't part of a cycle. When you're done with them, they get hauled to a landfill where they sit forever. Things never breakdown in a landfill. So using a one-use cup is not cyclical... Even if it's a compostable cup, it's still going to sit in a landfill. Unless you can compost. That's a whole can of worms (literally, ha).

I'd recommend to keep on keeping on with your reusable cup and minimize the washing/drying if you can. Otherwise, you're better off continuing with what you're currently doing (but try a reusable towel)!

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Are napkins and paper towels compost or waste?

Napkins are compostable because they break down easily and are typically used with food.

As for paper towels and facial tissue, that depends on how you're composting. They are technically compostable and are fine to put in compost if you're making your own. However, for large scale composting (like we're doing at SCU), they should be considered waste as they can contain pathogens.

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How do I recycle my prescription bottles?

Prescription bottles for the most part aren't recyclable. However, there are a couple things that you can do with your bottles after you've finished your medication:

-Leiter's Pharmacy (1700 Park Ave., 408-292-6772) will take unwanted and expired medications.

-There are many different ways to reuse a prescription bottle! They are great for storing small things that need to be kept dry or out of the reach of children. Here is a link that provides a couple ideas on how to reuse your bottle.

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Is there a charge on very large E-Waste?

E-Waste is treated the same no matter what the size; there are no limits or extra charges depending on the size of it.

Students in the residence halls should place e-waste in the designated spot in their recycling and waste area (there should be a sign that reads "e-waste")

Faculty and staff should contact Facilities at extension 4742 or email to arrange for a pick up. If you are set up to use FAMIS, you can also submit a work order directly to Facilities.

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Are Refrigerator Magnets Recyclable?

Refrigerator magnets are not commonly recycled materials, but they can be reused for other purposes. Here is a video on how to 'recycle' a refrigerator magnet:

Here are some other tips on how to reuse your magnet:

-Attach a strip to the side of your desk and use for storage of paperclips.

-Keep in the sewing kit for quick clean up of spilled needles and pins.

-Glue to a refillable pen and keep it on the fridge next to the grocery list or calendar.

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Should paper towels be placed in the trash or compost bin?

We cannot compost paper towels from bathrooms, so they need to go in the trash.

Napkins (and paper towels other than those used in bathrooms) are compostable.

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When will academic buildings get compost containers?

SCU started our compost collection program in May 2009. We began by collecting compostable waste from the kitchen in Benson Center. In September, we expanded our compost collection to Market Square and all residence halls.

SCU's composting program is still new, and we're phasing it in slowly to give the campus community time to adjust to our new waste diversion practices!

Academic buildings are undergoing a transformation to a new desk-side recycling and waste collection system. As we phase in a new building, we are adding compost collection containers in those buildings' kitchen/break rooms. All academic buildings will be transitioned this academic year.

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What are "Plastics #1-7"?

Plastic containers typically have a triangle stamp on their undersides, containing a number. This number is the Resin Code, i.e. the type of plastic used to make the container.

  1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE/PET #1)
    Most commonly used for soda botles, water bottles, shampoo bottles, peanut butter jars, etc.
  2. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE #2)
    Most commonly used for milk, water, and juice bottles, detergent bottles, yogurt and margarine containers, grocery bags, etc.
  3. Polyvinyl Chloride aka Vinyl (PVC #3)
    Most commonly used for clear food packaging, shampoo bottles, etc.
  4. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE #4)
    Most commonly used for bread bags, frozen food bags, squeezable bottles like mustard, etc.
  5. Polypropylene (PP #5)
    Most commonly used for ketchup bottles, yogurt and butter containers, etc.
  6. Polystyrene (aka. Styrofoam) (PS #6)
    Most commonly used for meat trays, egg cartons, hot beverage cups, plates, etc.
  7. Other (#7)
    Ketchup, large water bottles, etc.

Uses once recycled:

  1. PET: Fibers, soft drink bottles.
  2. HDPE: Bottles, grocery bags, recycling containers, playground equipment, plastic lumber.
  3. PVC: Pipe, fencing, and non-food bottles.
  4. LDPE: Plastic bags, 6-pack rings, tubing, some laboratory equipment.
  5. PP: Auto parts, dishware, food containers.
  6. PS: Cafeteria trays, toys, desk accessories, insulation.
  7. Other: Unknown.
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How frequently does our departmental compost container get emptied?

The compost bin will be emptied by your custodian as often as needed. If it is not emptied frequently enough for you, please contact Facilities (x4742).

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Where do I put used tissue?

Used facial tissue should be placed in waste containers.

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Contact Us

Center for Sustainability
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053