Protecting Oregon's Environment
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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Land Quality 

Commercial Waste Reduction Clearinghouse

Setting Up A Program
Waste Reduction Strategies
Educate and Promote
Recognition and Funding
Success Stories
Commercial Laws and Regulations

Waste Reduction Strategies


Waste Prevention


  • To reduce unwanted mail, request a unique zip code that doesn't accept personal advertising.
  • Send general mailings only to department heads or key department representatives for central posting.
  • Target specific audiences for direct mail.

Food Service

  • Use washable plates, eating utensils, glasses and cups for cafeteria/restaurants and in-room service, whenever possible.
  • Sell reusable mugs with no-spill lids and offer discounts to anyone using their own mug.
  • Start up a "think before you use" campaign to decrease use of disposable items: napkins, condiments, etc.
  • Remove napkins from the service line and add napkin dispensers in the dining area to be used as needed.
  • Donate unserved, surplus food to a food bank program or homeless shelter.
  • For all-you-can-eat service, reduce the plate size.
  • Switch to a bulk milk dispenser instead of individual milk cartons.
  • Buy products in bulk and keep in stay fresh containers on display instead of selling individually wrapped products. (e.g., breakfast muffins, cereal, etc.).
  • Adopt a policy for contracted vendors that addresses waste reduction, recycled products and recycling.
  • Place rubber mats around bus and dish washing stations to reduce china and glass breakage.
  • Purchase products that come in recyclable packaging such as tin, aluminum and glass.


  • Offer canvas bags to customers for a small fee or for free. Charging local businesses or vendors to advertise their logo on the bags will offset the cost of procuring the bags while reducing the amount of single-use bags that need to be purchased.
  • Charge customers for single-use bags.


Plant drought resistant and lower maintenance shrubs and trees. They require less water and will generate smaller quantities of yard waste.

Shipping and Receiving

  • Arrange for vendors to take back pallets.
  • Reuse pallets for shipments within the campus.
  • Sell or donate used pallets to groups or organizations for reuse.


  • Post campus job listings on a network accessible to students instead of a bulletin board. This will reduce the amount of paper, printing and recycling used when hard copies are updated.
  • Consider switching to energy-efficient fluorescents (contact your local utility for possible discounts) and switching from single-paned to thermal-paned windows.
  • See Food Service for more restaurant related information.
  • Donate books that are in good condition to a non-profit organization.
  • Also see General Tips for more Office Waste Reduction Tips and Green Teachers



  • In student dorms, create centrally located recycling depots for each building or floor. Clearly label all recycling bins and post recycling procedures.
  • Provide in-room recycling containers for newspapers and beverage containers, along with information on how to recycle. Work with students to empty in-room containers into a central recycling collection area.
  • Make recycling a part of the housing contract and have the recycling bin included in the dorm inventory.
  • Anticipate and prepare for a large volume of recyclables during move-in/move-out days and other special events.


  • Place recycling bins in high-traffic areas where they are convenient to use.
  • Make recycling bins as accessible as garbage cans.
  • Buy recycled.


Set up recycling containers at the dish disposal/tray collection area so that materials are sorted for recycling rather than thrown away.


  • Contact your waste hauler or city recycling coordinator about collection service for kitchen and food waste that can be composted.
  • Consider building a worm bin and designate classes to take turns caring for the bin by using a portion of the food scraps each day to feed the worms. This is a great learning exercise for students while simultaneously reducing solid waste. Go to the Master Composter's web site, and select "Worm" for more information.
  • For outdoor maintenance tips see Waste Reduction Tips for Landscaping.

For more information visit these web sites:

  • Composting Council of Canada
  • Composting News
  • Internet Recycling and Composting Resource Page
  • Recyclers World central composting category
  • US EPA composting
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For more information about DEQ's Land Quality programs, visit the DEQ contact page.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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