OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Race to Zero: Identifying strategies to achieve Zero Waste


Zero Waste (ZW) is a goal in which zero waste is sent to the landfill. This strategy aims to reduce land use and related greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills and waste transportation while providing opportunities for innovative ways to divert waste. California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) represents a large and diverse waste stream that results in varied environmental impacts for present and future generations. Currently, the CSUSB campus has no comprehensive data on the amount, type, and diversion rate (i.e. waste diverted from landfills) of the campus waste streams, making it necessary to pilot a waste audit. The pilot was intended to provide data on the campus waste stream and to establish best practices for future audits on campus. Waste was collected by custodial staff from University Hall from February 14th-16th, except for bathroom waste, which was just weighed. A total of 1058.6 pounds of waste were collected over the three-day period, and 898.5 pounds of waste was sorted. Results indicate the diversion rate was only 30.23%. Furthermore, the contamination rates for trash bins (i.e. recyclables in trash) was 37.15%, and 58.26% in recycling bins (i.e. trash in recycle). Bottles- and Cansonly bins had 6% contamination rates. The diversion and contamination rates suggest that CSUSB should develop comprehensive policies that promote educating the campus on waste diversion strategies in order to reach ZW. Achieving ZW could reduce environmental impacts to the Inland Empire region while providing resources and educational opportunities for the campus and surrounding community.

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