Waste + Recyling Overview

USC’s recycling program, initiated in 1994 by Facilities Management Services, is an integral part of the university’s sustainable initiatives.  Many Trojans are surprised to learn that, despite not seeing or using clearly identified recycling receptacles, USC recycles more than half of its waste, including white paper, mixed paper, newspaper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass metal, green waste, and wood, from its campuses annually. In 2009, USC collected 7,695 tons of waste and recycled 3,899 of those tons.

The university contracts with Athens Services, a waste management service provider, to remove waste and recyclables from both of USC's campuses.  When waste is delivered to the computer controlled, state-of-the-art Athens facility, a combination of machinery and workers separate recyclables from the waste. These sorted recyclable items, such as paper, plastic, and wood, are consolidated into bales. This recycled material has diverse uses.  Some paper and plastic is sent to China to be re-used.  Additionally, textiles are burned to generate electricity.


Many of us are accustomed to seeing separted containers for recycling cans, bottles, and other materials.  While USC provides some separate recycling containers, the university is currently expanding its efforts.  Pre-sorting university waste can increase diversion of recyclables

Currently, UPC classrooms and offices are equipped with blue trash cans designated for mixed paper.  Mixed paper includes white paper, post-its, envelopes, magazines, newspapers, file folders, and more.  Custodial staff can then separate this mixed paper from the regular trash. 

Separating white paper is much more efficient and cost-effective than just recycling mixed-paper. 
During Summer 2010, FMS and the Marshall School of Business introduced a pilot program in which staff could recycle white paper in specially marked recycling containers  Statistics are not yet available for this program, but plans are underway to expand it to the Gould Law School building soon. 

Here is what YOU can do to help USC increase the amount of waste that it diverts from going to the landfill:

  • Separate your recycling
  • Find out where you can dispose of your recyclable items
  • Encourage fellow students to recycle their glass, paper, and plastic
  • Purchase a reusable water container rather than using plastic water bottles
  • Recycle your batteries: Did you know that only 0.55% of the 507,259,000 batteries sold in California in 2001 were recycled?
  • Dispose of your ink and toner properly
  • Encourage recycling at your dorm
  • Properly dispose of E-Waste: E-Waste is consumer and business electronic equipment that is near or at the end of its useful life