Waste Stream Management

Did you know the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 30-40% of food goes to waste? This does not account for other waste involved in food production like packaging. Through proud participation in Cal Poly’s Zero Waste Program, Campus Dining has made major strides over the years to reduce waste and divert it away from landfills.

Recycling at Cal Poly


Since 1990, recycling has been a major part of Campus Dining’s waste stream diversion program. There are recycling stations next to every trash can in our dining venues, and all of our kitchens have food scrap and recycling trash containers as a part of our back of house diversion program. We annually recycle 193,000 pounds of cardboard.



Campus Dining is proud to support California’s organics diversion goals by sending hundreds of tons of food scraps to the local Kompogas facility where it is converted to biogas renewable energy and nutrient rich compost. Campus Dining also places Zero Waste stations at its venues and encourages students to sort their trash for composting, recycling and landfill.

Programs Aimed at Reduction of Single-Use Plastics

Reusable Tumbler Program

In 2021, Campus Dining launched a Reusable Tumbler Program. The program offers a complimentary reusable tumbler to all first-year students with a dining plan. The cups are embedded with an RFID chip that allows them to be preloaded with 100 drinks. Students can scan their cup at beverage stations around campus, with the purpose of reducing the number of single-use cups, lids, and straws. The reusable tumbler program spares tens of thousands of single use cups from the landfill each year.

Reusable Container Program at Vista Grande Express

A $5 refundable deposit allows for students to use a reusable container to fill with the food available. Students can then use the container and return it to Vista Grande at their convenience to receive their refund. Campus Dining then washes the containers so they can be further used by other students. Campus Dining estimates that over 200,000 single-use containers can be spared by this program every year.

Plastic Bottle Ban

In 2023, Campus Dining eliminated all single use plastic water bottles for sale in its venues. Aluminum bottled waters are available for purchase and students and staff are encouraged to use their reusable tumblers and bottles.

Styrofoam and Plastic Bags Eliminated

Styrofoam and plastic bags have been completely eliminated from Campus Dining operations

Cooking Oil Conversion

All used cooking oil is collected from dining operations and converted to renewable biodiesel.

How Can You Reduce Your Impact?

  1. Say “No, thanks!” to plastic bags
  2. Bring a set of utensils in your backpack and avoid the plastic ones
  3. Bring your food in Tupperware, not plastic bags
  4. Avoid products that use unnecessary packaging or containers
  5. Buy products in bulk