The City College Waste Management Strategy

“Use Less – Recycle More – Close the Loop!”

The City College of San Francisco waste management strategy emphasizes reducing the amount of waste created, reusing products whenever possible, recycling what remains, and closing the loop through the purchase of products with recycled and biodegradable content. There are four primary ways to prevent the Municipal Solid Waste we generate on our campuses from ending in the landfill: Source Reduction, Recycling, Composting, and Green Procurement. See also Green Procurement Resources.

Source Reduction: Use Less

During the past 35 years, the amount of waste each person  creates has almost doubled from 2.7 to 4.4 pounds per day. The most effective way to stop and reverse this growth is by preventing waste in the first place. Source reduction is the design, manufacture and use of products in ways that reduce the quantity of waste they produce. This includes designing products with a longer useful life, reusing them when possible, reducing the volume of materials in making and packaging them, eliminating or lowering the toxicity of material inputs, and decreasing our consumption. By eliminating materials from the waste stream, source reduction prevents emission of many greenhouse gases, reduces pollutants, saves energy, conserves resources, and lowers the need for new landfills.

Source reduction strategies for our offices and classrooms include:

  • Let staff and students know that office materials do grow on trees.
  • Reuse old folders, papers, and memos for scrap paper.
  • Reformat fax forms to avoid a cover sheet.
  • Print two-sided final documents.
  • Store files and post notices electronically.
  • Send documents by email and let the recipient decide whether to print.
  • Set up shared file systems to access documents without need of a hard copy.
  • Target direct mail audiences to reduce junk mail.
  • Clean duplications and dated addresses from mailing lists.
  • Host catalogs online and mail postcards informing how to find and use them.
  • Employ wireless internet to allow online in-class exams.
  • Email class papers and other computer generated materials.
  • Grade students online and email results.
  • Change news and periodical subscriptions to online sources.
  • Designate a draft printer for printing on the back of used paper.
  • Share less frequently used machines such as copiers.
  • Reuse old office/classroom furnishings or donate them to second source vendors.
  • Encourage staff and students to carry reusable cups.
  • Reduce office stuff to the kinds and amounts of things really needed.
  • Replace conventional light bulbs with high efficiency CFL’s.
  • Use Energy Star rated equipment.
  • Lower thermostats a few degrees.

To add your source reduction solutions please contact us.

Recycling: Recycle More

Recycling is the sorting, collecting, and processing of formerly used materials for reuse or remanufacture of new products. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and keeps valuable materials out of landfills.Perhaps most importantly, by reducing waste and replacing virgin material inputs, recycling relieves pressure on vital ecosystem services such as clean air and water, wildlife habitat, transitional wetlands, and ocean fisheries. U. S.Environmental Protection Agency calculations show that for some materials(aluminum corrugated cardboard, newspaper, dimensional lumber, and medium-density fiberboard), the greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits of recycling are even greater than source reduction. This is because recycling is assumed to displace100 percent virgin inputs, whereas source reduction is assumed to displace some recycled and some virgin inputs. The following equations show how the energy-related GHG benefits for the recycling and source reduction emission factors are calculated:


  • Recycling: (emissions for 100 % virgin inputs - emissions for 100 % recycled inputs) x recycling loss rate
  • Source Reduction: (emissions for 100 % virgin inputs x % virgin inputs in current mix) + (emissions for 100 % recycled inputs x % recycled inputs in current mix)

Therefore, depending on the energy and fuel mix required to manufacture the material from virgin versus recycled inputs, the recycling loss rate, and the percent of virgin materials in a manufacturing mix, the energy-related GHG savings from recycling may be greater than the total energy savings from source reduction. This is most likely to be the case when there is a large difference in emissions between the virgin and recycled processes, and where the manufacturing mix includes a significant proportion of recycled inputs.


For more information on the importance of recycling see the Benefitsof Recycling.

For a complete list of recycle materials and procedures view the Recycling Guide. 


Recycling Resources:

Aluminum Association

American Forest and Paper Association

American Plastics Council

Californians Against Waste

Grass Roots Recycling Network

National Recycling Coalition

Steel Recycling Institute

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency: 2007 Facts and Figures

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency: Waste Reduction Model and Calculator

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency: Waste Wise

To add recycling resources to our list please contact us.

Composting: Close the Organic Loop

California’s waste stream is composed of 30% organic materials such as food scraps and yard trimmings which contribute over 12 million tons of waste annually to our state landfills. Once in the landfill, this material undergoes anaerobic decomposition and produces large quantities of methane, up to 80% of which is emitted to the atmosphere. Composting just 30% of food waste in this stream can reduce California’s GHG emissions by one million metric tons of CO2, equaling the carbon sequestered by 26 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years. Experimental studies have also shown that fertilizing soils with compost increases carbon sequestration ranges by 2 to 16 tons of carbon per acre. Composting can also displace petroleum-based chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and additives which are carbon-intensive in their production, application and decomposition. Moreover,runoff and leaching of these compounds introduces toxins to streams, rivers,and groundwater. The use of compost can reduce commercial fertilization of vegetable crops by 33-66%.

Compost releases nutrients more slowly over a longer period of time, avoiding crop burn and reducing the frequency of fertilization. Research has also shown that irrigation needs are decreased by 30-70% because plants grown in compost-rich soil increase the infiltration and storage capacity of root systems and reduce water runoff and evaporation. Reduced irrigation leads to substantial energy savings since nearly 8% of the electricity generated in California is used to run our massive water supply infrastructure.

For a complete list of compost materials and procedures view the Recycling Guide.

Green Procurement: Close the Technical Loop

Green procurement means selecting products that minimize environmental impacts at every stage of the lifecycle: from material inputs,manufacturing, packaging, transporting, storing, handling, use and disposal, to evaluating the necessity of making the purchase in the first place. Green products are more sustainable than conventional options because they are designed to consume fewer natural resources, use less energy, avoid hazardous or toxic materials, and be either biodegradable or recyclable. They can also offer costsavings in waste disposal, energy, water, fuel and other natural resources; and they reduce associated expenses such as permit fees and toxic materialshandling charges.

Green procurement means commitment at all levels including the board of directors, administration, department heads, faculty, and service employees. Purchasing agents are key players to involve in the policy design and implementation process. Their knowledge of what is purchased, in what quantities, from where and at what price is critical for evaluating present purchasing practices; and their leadership and support is critical to effectively “greening” the procurement process.

Always look to “close the loop”

  • Make suppliers aware of the CCSF green procurement program.
  • Specify recycled, non-toxic, and/or biodegradable material content.
  • Request product environmental impact reports.
  • Ask suppliers to assist in finding “green” alternatives.
  • Check for supplier or manufacturer 'take-back' programs.
  • Ask suppliers to purchase from manufacturers that minimize packaging.
  • Select products with reduced material content.
  • Select products that are manufactured with less energy.
  • Select equipment that is energy efficient.
  • Select products that reduce or eliminate toxicity.
  • Seek products that can be reused or remanufactured.
  • Select concentrated products when appropriate.
  • Select items available in bulk when possible.
  • Buy printers and copiers that print on both sides.
  • Specify rechargeable toner and ink cartridges.
  • Ask for round-trip packaging containers or padding when available.
  • Select reusable packaging, such as refillable bottles, reusable pallets, and reconditioned barrels and drums.
  • Consider renting equipment that is used infrequently.

To add your ideas for "closing the loop" please contact us.

Green Procurement Resources:

For online supplier directories of recycled content products:

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines

The California Integrated Waste Waste Management Board Buy Recycled Program

Large scale purchases of environmentally sound paper at Conservatree

For an online catalogue of bio-based products:

The U. S. Deparment of Agriculture Bio-Preferred Program

For online listings of energy efficient equipment:

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR

To add Green Procurement resources to our list please contact us.