Waste Diversion


Towards Zero Waste

At Saint Mary’s College, we aim to promote a zero waste culture on campus starting from the first day students arrive to the day they graduate.

Move-In Day

During the much-celebrated annual Saint Mary’s move-in day, Saint Mary's Office of Sustainability helps new students and families break down boxes and educate on proper waste sorting.  Every residence hall has an associated dumpster alcove with a designated trash (black bin/dumpster), recycling (blue bin/dumpster), and green bin (for compost). We have created a Sustainable Move-In Guide for your reference.

Sustainable Move Out

During Sustainable Move-Out every May, we collect as many reusable goods from the 1,300+ residents moving out of our residence halls to donate to local nonprofits.  

What goes where?  

At Saint Mary's we use a three stream waste diverson system.  Around campus you should see black landfill bins, blue recycling bins and green composting bins.  Please check out these helpful flyers to review waste sorting best practices.

Waste streams


Need a waste poster for your event or building? Email SMCsustainability@stmarys-ca.edu.

Compost Pails for your Kitchen

Students, staff and faculty can obtain compost pails for their office or residence halls. All offices are responsible for discarding their compost on regular basis (we recommend at least once per week). Please contact us smcsustainability@stmarys-ca.edu request a compost pail. Students are asked to return their compost pail at the end of the academic year, and check another one out the following fall. Off-campus students should contact their landlord, housing authority or Republic Services directly for a compost bin.

As a reminder, our compost takes all food products (e.g., coffee grounds, bones, egg shells) and paper products (e.g., napkins, paper towels, paper cups/bowls/plates, coffee filters). Unfortunately, our compost does NOT take utensils, even if they are marketed as "compostable" or "biodegradable."  

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where can I dispose of small electronics, batteries or ink cartridges? Small electronics, batteries and ink cartridges can be recycled in these five locations on campus: De La Salle Hall, Filippi Administrative Hall, Galileo Hall and the Library.
  2. What is recyclable? Paper, metal, glass, plastic  
  3. How clean does recycling need to be? Ideally, we would like to have containers Empty, Clean, & Dry. Please wipe, scrape, or rinse food residue out of containers (such as cans, peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise jars). If an item is too oily or dirty, please throw it in the landfill cart or dumpster so as to not contaminate clean recyclables in the blue cart.
  4. Do you recycle plastic bags?  Yes, as long as they are empty, clean & dry. Crinkly bags such as chip bags, cereal bags, are NOT recyclable.
  5. What is accepted in the green organics cart? Yard trimmings, food-soiled paper, food scraps, (unacceptable materials: dog poop or waste from any animal)
  6. Are Compostable Plastic items okay in the Organics Cart? The ONLY “compostable plastic” item we accept is BPI-Certified Compostable Bags.