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Frequently Asked Questions

 Compost. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.
 
Compost

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

 Recycling. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.
 
Recycle

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

 Landfill. Photo from SCU Office of Sustainability.
 
Landfill

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.
 
Electronics

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.
 
Batteries/Ink Cartridges

Batteries and ink cartridges need to be recycled separately. Batteries/Ink Cartridges FAQs.

 Donations. Photo from Pixabay.
 
Donations

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

 Plastics. Photo courtesy of UC Merced 2012.
 
Plastics

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.
 
Move-Out

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

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Frequently Asked Questions about Recycling, Composting, and Waste

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

The following postings have been filtered by tag Eliminating Waste. clear filter
What Should I Do With My Plastic Bags?
Plastic bags and thin plastic liners should be bundled together before disposing in the recycling bin. Read More »
Is bubble wrap recyclable?
Bubble wrap is recyclable on campus, but there are many ways to reuse it as well. Read More »
What can I do with my old cassettes?
Learn ways on how to reuse your cassettes and where to recycle them. Read More »
How Do I Recycle My Old Mattresses?
Learn where you can donate and recycle old mattresses. Read More »
Can Plastic Bags Be Recycled On Campus?
Yes, Plastic bags can be recycled on campus. Read More »
I don't live on campus so I was wondering if there's somewhere I can take empty ink cartridges, batteries, and old cell phones to be recycled?
We provide suggestions of places to take your items. Read More »
I recently received a promotion and have old business cards that I can no longer hand out. Are there good ways to reuse these, or should I just send them to the recycling bin?
Congratulations! Fortunately, being made of paper, business cards are among those items that can be chucked into the recycling bin. However, if you lean towards the creative side, there are a number of ways in which you can reuse these cards. Read More »
What's the deal with polystyrene?

On Earth Day, Palo Alto issued an ordinance that restricts food vendors from providing take out containers that are made from expanded polystyrene or non-recyclable plastic. This ordinance affects a broad umbrella of food service vendors such as retail food vendors, cafeterias, outdoor food vendors, food vehicles, and caterers. While the ordinance applies to containers, it does not apply to straws, utensils, or hot cup lids. These vendors are expected to comply within a one year period.

What is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is an inexpensive and commonly manufactured plastic; companies make items like clear disposable cups, razors, and CD cases out of polystyrene. The take-out containers in question are made of expanded polystyrene foam, and are of the same material as packaging peanuts and insulation. While this product is very similar to what is commonly known as Styrofoam, it is different because of its beaded texture.

What is the problem with it?

While this foam is good at keeping your food hot or cold, it causes a number of significant issues for ecosystems. What makes it convenient and durable for humans is what makes it so problematic for the environment; it is lightweight, it floats, and it can easily break into smaller pieces from factors like wind and sun. When these pieces break down, they can be mistaken for food by marine and land animals. It is non-biodegradable, so it will not break down in the environment like plants and other compostable matter. Even though some recycling companies will accept the plastic (polystyrene is the #6 recycling category), the expanded foam that is contaminated by food is nearly impossible to recycle. So, most containers either wind up in landfills or as litter; polystyrene containers are currently the second most abundant form of beach debris in California due to their common and widespread use. Finally, some scientific studies suggest that styrene is a harmful carcinogen to both humans and animals.

What can I do?

If you're not in an area that bans polystyrene, you still have options. Invest in some reusable containers, or if the place offers it, get a paper container instead (like when you get frozen yogurt at Frozo's). Even though the ordinance is exclusive to expanded polystyrene, Styrofoam is no better. Avoid it when you can! While Bon Appetit offers compostable to-go containers, you can do one step better and sign up for our Eco-Clamshell program.

Here's how:

1. Sign up at Market Square. If you're a faculty/staff member, you can do this at Adobe Lodge as well. Bring your campus ID and a refundable ten dollar deposit. You'll be given a keychain to exchange for your first EcoTray.
2. Every time you make a to-go purchase at Market Square or Adobe Lodge, you exchange your keychain for a clean and sanitized EcoTray.
3. Once you're done, you can drop off the tray at any on-campus Bon Appetit venue during regular hours in exchange for a new keychain.

Read More »
How do I recycle floppy disks?
Recycle your old floppy disks Read More »
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!

Read More »
I have been keeping bottled waters to give to guests at meetings in my office and need to reorder. I understand the use of plastic bottles of water is not environmentally correct and want to do what is right. What suggestions can you give me so I can

Bottled water is unsustainable for a number of reasons. Their production is energy and resource intensive due to the actual production of plastic bottles as well as the energy needed to transport the finished products.

Tap water is your best option over bottled water. It is just as clean and safe, and oftentimes even more so. If you don't like the taste of tap water, there are a number of different filters available. Carbon filters (like the Brita ones) are very popular and help to get rid of unwanted chemicals or taste. The Brita filter is also recyclable. Whatever filter you pick, make sure that it is certified by NSF. Depending on how large your meetings tend to be, you can have reusable cups on stock, or encourage your guests to bring a reusable water bottle.

Read More »
My department has a lot of extra office supplies (binders, folders, etc.). Where can we send them?

One option is to donate these items to the Resource Area For Teachers (RAFT).

RAFT is a non-profit organization that believes hands-on teaching is the best way for teachers to teach and students to learn. They provide creative hands-on activities, educational resources, workshops and inexpensive materials, (many donated by local businesses), to enrich pre K-12 education and community group programs.

Read More »
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Contact Us

Center for Sustainability
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053 sustainability@scu.edu