ERC Zero Waste Initiative

What is the Zero Waste Initiative?

The simple answer: We aim to send nothing to a landfill. We reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little to be recycled, and compost all green and paper waste. San Francisco’s current goal is to become a waste free city by 2020, SFSU aims to be similarly waste free in the same time frame. SF State has committed to the goal of Zero Waste by 2020.

The less simple answer: It’s really about redefining the system. We currently live in a linear economy where we take resources from the earth and then dump them in a giant hole in the ground. The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy where we write trash out of existence. The circular economy mimics nature in that there is no trash in nature.

Instead of discarding resources, we create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system.

What’s wrong with Landfills?

The average American sends 4.4 lbs of trash to the landfill every day. We live in a disposable society where we don’t value our belongings, and we’re consuming way too many resources.

Beyond our overconsumption problem, landfills are toxic. They’re responsible for 20% of the methane emissions in the US, and they aren’t aerated for proper decomposition of natural materials. Toxins from cleaners, batteries, small electronics (and other items that shouldn’t be landfilled) leach into the soil and can run off into the ocean and ground water when it rains.

A lot of trash doesn’t even make it to the landfill. Instead it clutters the sides of roads and swirls in the ocean. Plastic is especially dangerous to the ocean, marine life, and our health. It doesn’t biodegrade it photo-degrades which means it only gets smaller and smaller. Plastic breaks down so small that it’s in drinking 90% of drinking water both bottled and tap world wide.


How can we help SF State go Zero Waste?

Each one of us is a key players in helping our campus reach it’s Zero Waste Goal! One of the best ways to help is to know how to use our campus’ compost, recycling, and garbage bins.

Do you need help? The Environmental Resource Center is always ready to “talk trash“! We offer one-on-one or group waste management training sessions!

If you or your group would like a personalized training on waste management, email us at or stop by our office T-121 on the top floor of the Cesar Chavez Student Center!


*Video Credit: Vox. No Copyright Infringement Intended