UCSF Sustainability Stories


Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, March 2017


Toss Correctly: New Website Helps UCSF Reduce Waste

Does this scenario sound familiar? You forgot your mug and just finished a cup of coffee in a paper cup.  When you reach the recycling station, you can’t remember if the cup can be recycled or composted, so you toss it into the trash. UCSF’s new recycling and waste reduction website, zerowaste.ucsf.edu, is to the rescue. The new mobile-friendly site, developed to help UCSF reach its goal of zero waste by 2020, is a free and easy resource to help users who are unclear whether items should be reused, recycled, composted, or disposed of for landfill. With a few clicks, you can quickly be reminded that paper cups go in the compost bin.

Currently, UCSF diverts 74 percent of its recyclables and compostables from the landfill. But a recent waste audit revealed that 80-90 percent of what UCSF tosses into the trash could have been recycled or composted. “The site focuses on getting people information on how to toss correctly,” said Adam Schnirel, Assistant Director/Recycling Coordinator at UCSF. “It is working to change behavior toward reuse, composting, and recycling,” continued Schnirel.

Take the Quiz

Zerowaste.ucsf.edu includes an interactive quiz where users can test their knowledge. For example, if you work in a lab, how do you dispose of pipette tip boxes? A quick search gives you the answer: Pipette tip boxes go in the recycle bin, while the pipettes themselves go in the garbage.

Or how would you dispose of an old cassette tape (remember those?). Cassette tapes fall into the category of S for Special Handling, items that are handled outside of the three-bin system. If you put cassette tapes into the search box, you can easily find information on how to discard of them. “Cassette tapes are an old media format that can be recycled through a special processing. Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.”

The question that got me was plastic wrap—I answered that it could be recycled, but the quiz reminded me, “If dirty, plastic wrap goes in the garbage.”

Launch Events

A series of events will be hosted to launch the new website.  Check out the schedule below for details on when and where the events will be held.