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Zero Waste Initiatives

Below is a list of the initiatives, both past and present, put forth by the College to achieve its zero waste goal.

Current Initiatives


The composting services available to our campus are expanding rapidly in dining halls, residence halls, and special events! Visit Composting to learn more.


The Office of Sustainability is working with the Physical Plant to re-vamp the recycling program at the College of Charleston. We're hoping to establish a more efficient pick up schedule, add to the materials that we are recycling, and improve visibility and awareness. We also hope that by solidifying our recycling and waste diversion efforts here at the college, we will be able to head towards becoming a zero-waste institution, fully-utilizing our recyclable waste by tapping into this previously unused revenue stream.

For more information on what is recyclable at the College of Charleston, and where it can be recycled, check out our Campus Recycling Guides

Standardization ("Binvasion")

KlawThe sustainable materials management project is an ongoing effort to reduce the College of Charleston’s landfill waste by improving the campus recycling system and integrating composting initiatives. Currently, efforts are focused on raising recycling rates on campus by redistributing, relabeling, and modifying existing bins, as well as exploring new options for expanding CofC’s recycling system.

The College of Charleston’s Zero Waste initiative is kicking off with the implementation of new, standardized disposal units around campus to guide and promote effective materials management practices. These units will be separated into bins for “paper”, “glass, plastic, metal”, “compost” and “landfill” materials, accompanied by color-coded signs. The new bins will be appearing in Harborwalk and North Campus buildings this year, while other existing bins across campus will be adapted to the same system using sticker labels. 

Sustainable Move-In and Move-Out

In the Spring and Summer of 2012, the Office joined Residence Life and Housing's Lighten Your Load program and the City of Charleston Livability Division's Operation Move-Out program to make move-in and move-out at the College more sustainable. A student group worked with Residence Life to create a guide book for Lighten your Load, and our interns created a Move-In Guide to help students to make more sustainable choices when moving in and moving out. The Office will continue to build these relationships in pursuit of a more sustainable campus culture.

Past Initiatives

Pulping Analysis

Pulping analysis

In the Fall 2012 semester City Bistro began composting discarded food through the use of a pulper. Utilizing a recycled stream of water to carry food and compostable utensils to a grinder, a pulper extracts all water from discarded food, leaving only a compostable dry pulp. As the only dining location at the College of Charleston with a pulper, the Office analyzed just how much food was diverted from the landfill through the use of this machine. After numerous data collections and experiments, we found that the pulper diverted 70% of the total food weight.

Recycling Bin Pilot

In the spring of 2012, the Office received a grant of 1,068 6-gallon personal-size recycling bins from the Alcoa Corporation. In late May 2012, a group of interns began a pilot project to explore the impact that these personal recycling bins could have on campus recycling. The Hispanic Studies Department, located on the first floor of J.C Long, graciously volunteered for our pilot study. Our summer interns started by measuring the daily diversion rates of the material streams in the department before the pilot, distributed over 50 personal bins to individual rooms and offices, and then relocated the large central recycling bins to more convenient areas. By comparing stream diversion before and after bin installation, the Office found that personal bins greatly improvedthe rate of diversion in the Hispanic Studies Department.

As a result of the pilot's success, the Office worked with the Honors College in August of 2013 to install personal bins in every residence hall room on campus.