USC initiated its recycling program in 1994, and has since diverted on average an estimated 3,500 tons of waste from landfills per year. In 1996, Facilities Management Services instituted their cardboard recycling program. This program alone diverts approximately 10 tons of cardboard per week during the school year. Cardboard is compacted in a bailer in the Facilities Management Services yard, and stored to be shipped off in bulk, saving money on transportation costs and minimizing green house gas emissions. In 2011, more than 290 tons of cardboard and 640 tons of paper were recycled from the University Park Campus.
More than 100 recycling bins are distributed throughout the University Park Campus. The recycling that goes into these bins, however, only accounts for 17% of the waste diverted by USC’s recycling program. Facilities Management Services partially sorts through trash waste to separate a greater percentage of recyclable material, and a partnership with Athens Services ensures that recyclables are sorted from trash waste.
Athens Services also collects USC’s composting. USC composts both food waste and green waste from landscaping. Athens Services also collects USC’s construction and demolition debris, diverting bulk materials from landfills.
In 2010, 667.16 tons of recycling was collected directly from recycling bins, while 1168.54 tons of recycling was collected after sorting through trash bins. Facilities Management Services works tirelessly to sort through and dispose of waste responsibly, but it is up to individuals to sort through waste as it is disposed of. Green efforts at USC have pushed to increase awareness for responsible and sustainable waste diversion, and with every year, more people contribute to the greening of USC.
In fall 2012, the USC Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management Services created the Tailgate Waste Diversion and Zero-Waste Tailgate Certification Program. Tailgate Waste Diversion works to educate tailgaters about recycling and composting before football games. The Office of Sustainability also is working to certify tailgates, and offers two levels of certification, cardinal and gold. For more information about the Zero-Waste Tailgate Certification Program and for details on how to certify your tailgate, visit: http://green.usc.edu/content/zero-waste-tailgate-certification-program-0.