Santa Clara University

sustainability at scu

Frequently Asked Questions About Waste Diversion

 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.
Batteries/Ink Cartridges

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


More FAQ's

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How are electronic companies trying to make computers more eco-friendly? What are the environmental benefits of reusing and recycling e-waste? What are the potential environmental impacts if we do not recycle e-waste?

E-waste is a huge environmental problem we are facing today. Many companies are working on reducing the environmental impact of their electronics because most electronics are difficult to recycle, contain a number of hazardous materials, consume a huge amount of energy, and create a lot of waste through the process of production. Apple has just developed a new laptop that is highly recyclable, uses less energy, contains less toxic materials such as arsenic and mercury, and has reduced packaging. Also, because the battery lasts longer, there will be less battery waste. As of recently, a new standard of measurement (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) has been created to rate the environmental impact of desktop computers, notebook computers, and monitors. The Dell Latitude D630, with Intel Centrino processor technology, is the first laptop system that met the gold status with EPEAT. One of the best ways to make a computer or electronic device more eco-friendly is lengthening the lifetime and durability, so they don't need to be replaced as often.

There is an overwhelming amount of health and environmental problems associated with the life cycle of e-waste, from the production to disposal. Not only is a vast amount of e-waste disposed in landfills, but e-waste results in massive amounts of wastewater and other hazardous wastes. Estimates suggest that 50%-80% of e-waste is shipped to impoverished, rural areas in Asia. Villages, rivers, and groundwater supplies become poisoned with this waste. Unprotected laborers are paid miniscule amounts to dismantle the computers, wihch releases incredibly toxic fumes that damage their health and the surrounding environment.

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I don't really understand the difference between ink cartridges and receptacles in terms of recycling. Many places will even pay for used cartridges, but I am unable to find any information about recycling my used receptacles. Can you help?

At the moment, the Canon Clean Earth Program does not accept the ink receptacles, but they are working on a solution.

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I know facilities can come to pick up TV's and remote controls to recycle. Can they also recycle printers?

All e-waste can be recycled at Santa Clara University. E-waste includes materials that use batteries or have an electronic cord. A printer is an acceptable example of E-waste.

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 to arrange for a pick up.

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How do you take care of an empty Starbucks coffee cup?
  • Brown sleeve, lid, sweetner packet: recycle
  • Cup*: landfill waste
  • Stir stick: compost

*If you're drinking out of a compostable cup provided by SCU Dining Services, please compost the cup when you're through!

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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.

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I have a dead computer. How can I get it recycled?

You will need to contact Facilities to arrange for pick-up. Your computer will be responsibly recycled this way.

This can happen a couple ways:

  1. call or e-mail Facilities with your request (x4742 or
  2. submit a work order directly if you are set up to use FAMIS.
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My paper shredder stopped functioning and I have just replaced it. How can I recycle the old one?

Please call or e-mail Facilities (x4742 or to request an e-waste pick up.

If you have access to FAMIS, you can submit a work order request yourself.

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I am confused about the mixed recycling program. What belongs in mixed recycling, and where do I put recyclables?

Mixed recycling:

All paper, plastics (#1-7), aluminum, glass, and tin should be placed in containers labeled with the following: a recycling symbol (outdoor cement bins), "mixed recycling", "co-mingle recycling", "recycling", "aluminum", "glass", and "plastic". Most of these bins are square and maroon. 
Cardboard, e-waste, and universal waste do not belong in mixed recycling.
  • Cardboard gets flattened and placed near paper recycling containers.
  • E-waste and Universal waste depends on the location. In residence halls, these can be placed on the ground below the "e-waste" sign, or recycled at the building's service desk. In campus offices and other buildings, these items are either picked-up or mailed to Facilities.

We are in bit of a confusing time right now, as we update and standardize our recycling containers. We appreciate your patience!

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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.

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How do I recycle textbooks?

Textbooks can be recycled along with any type of paper.  Because texbooks are quite heavy and have sharp corners, do NOT place them in blue paper recycling bags. Instead, please request a sturdy paper recycling container from Facilities.

Either call x4742, e-mail, or place a work order through AIM.

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How should I recycle during a campus office move?
During a campus office move you can recycle the same materials that you would normally recycle. However, if you are anticipating recycling a larger amount of materials than usual (a stack of books, for example) please contact Facilities at extension 4742 to request large recycling bins. Also, Facilities should be contacted to pick up any e-waste being recycled. For more helpful tips on how to reduce waste during a campus office move visit the Faculty and Staff Sustainability website.
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Should bottles and cans be cleaned before they are placed in recycling bins around campus?
coke can
Beverage containers should be emptied before being placed in the recycling receptacle, but it is not necessary to rinse them. This makes it easier for sorting and  transporting. Some items with particularly messy or unpleasant contents, such as soup and tuna cans, should be rinsed in order to make sorting easier.
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Can I recycle the tops of pizza boxes when they are clean?

Please place pizza boxes in COMPOST containers.

If this is not an option where you are, please remove the top of the box (only if it is clean) and recycle with corrugated cardboard.

Generally, we do not recycle pizza boxes because the cheese and grease from the pizza contaminates the box, rendering it unable to be recycled into new products. However, since many times only the bottom part of the box is contaminated, it is sometimes possible to separate and recycle the top. If, and only if, the top of the box is clean, recycle it with corrugated cardboard.

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Does SCU recycle hard and soft cover books?
Both hard and soft cover books can be recycled here at Santa Clara University. If you are planning on recycling a small amount of soft-cover books, they can be placed in the blue paper recycling bag or recycling bin. 
However, if you are planning on recycling a large amount of books, Facilities should be contacted for a pick up at extension 4742. 
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Does SCU recycle televisions?
Yes, SCU does recycle televisions. Televisions are a form of e-waste, which is anything that uses a battery or an electric cord. Signs in the residence halls’ recycling/waste area should instruct students where to place e-waste. Those wishing to recycle e-waste in the office should call Facilities for a pick up at extension 4742. 
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What do I do with printer/copy paper packaging?

Paper ream packaging IS RECYCLABLE.

In the past, these wrappers needed to be discarded in the waste bin because their waxy coating put them in a different paper recycling category.

Now, ALL PAPER TYPES can be recycled in the blue paper recycling bags near copiers, and in any container on campus labeled "recycling".

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Where can I recycle newspapers?

newspapersNewspapers can be placed in any recycling receptacle.

  • Residence halls: place your paper in the "recycling" bin at each residence hall’s waste disposal area.
  • Throughout campus: newspapers and all other paper recyclables should be placed in any bin labeled "recycling" as well as the blue recycling bags found near copiers.
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What should I do with e-waste?

Directions for recycling e-waste in campus residence halls are posted in each building's waste collection area.

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Can light bulbs be recycled?

light bulbThe vast majority of recycling programs will not accept light bulbs (such as incandescent bulbs). However, under California's Universal Waste Rule, it is illegal to dispose of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) (and other fluorescent lights).

A single CFL contains about 5 milligrams of mercury, which can be dangerous to humans and the environment if not disposed of properly. These and other items considered universal waste must be either sent to an authorized recycling facility or to a universal waste consolidator.

More resources:

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What is e-waste?

E-waste is anything that uses a battery or electric cord. All e-waste can be recycled at Santa Clara University.
Here are some examples:

  • computer
  • lamp
  • remote control
  • hair dryer
  • Super Nintendo
  • alarm clock
  • fan
  • hair straightener
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