Written by Sam Arslanian and Dakota Gryffin

USC has only one year left to increase its waste diversion rate to 75 percent, according to its five-year-plan towards increased sustainability This means that the school must redirect 31 percent more trash away from landfills than it is currently doing.

The city of Los Angeles has set a goal of 80 percent diversion by 2020, according to the Mayor's plan. USC set its own goal of diverting 75 percent of its waste away from landfills  by 2020. Currently, the university only diverts 44 percent of its waste.

USC has been working on several endeavors to fulfill the 2020 Sustainability Plan.

  1. Composting: USC has implemented composting programs in its dining halls, retail spaces and University church kitchen. This year, sustainability affairs director for USC Undergraduate Student Government, Mitchell-Huizar rolled out a pilot composting program in Cardinal Gardens and Nemirovsky Residential College. The program teaches students what foods can be composted, and how
  2. Increased waste bins: 106 new trash bins and 84 new recycling bins have been placed in buildings and outdoor spaces around campus, including the University Village, according to the USC Sustainability website.
  3. Tailgate Trash: USC hired “Trojan Trash Talkers,” a group of students who hand out bamboo straws and encourage students to recycle during home game tailgates. Having just a few pieces of trash in a recycling bin can force the entire bag to be sent to landfills, so the university is striving to educate students on best recycling practices.

Despite these efforts, the university is trailing behind several other Los Angeles universities. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) reached 80 percent waste diversion nearly seven years ago. Its goal is to reach 100 percent diversion by next year, according to the UCLA Zero Waste Plan.  California State University Los Angeles surpassed their 50 percent waste diversion goal in 2016.

To aid in increasing the rate of waste diversion, Roopal Kondepudi, the president of The Sustainability Project at USC, says students should focus on the three R's: Reduce, reuse and recycle.

"Try to reduce the amount of products that contain a lot of packaging," Kondepudi said. "If you do need to use them, for example, like cardboard boxes do your best to recycle them, instead of just throwing them away. If you have items that have multiple uses in them, reuse them as much as possible."