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Waste & Recycling

Caltech's commitment to waste reduction and recycling spans over 40 years. In the early 1960s a small recycling program was run by a number of volunteer graduate students. In 1979, one of the student volunteers, Professor Judith Cohen, returned to campus as a faculty member and petitioned the administration to establish a recycling center. The recycling center was run by Dr. Cohen and a number of student volunteers.

Eventually, in 1989, a group of students created the Caltech Environmental Task Force (CETF). However, school and workload demands created challenges, and in order to continue with a consistent program, the Campus Recycling Program operations became the responsibility of the Buildings and Grounds Department. A recycling facility was built in 1993, and the recycling program has continued to divert waste resources from the landfill and serve as a model for other organizations.


  • Minimize the overall quantity of waste generated.
  • Minimize the negative environmental impacts of solid-waste management.
  • Maximize campus community involvement.
  • Educate the campus community to reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle.
  • Improve measurements and standardize reporting practices.
  • Integrate source-reduction, reuse, repair, and recycling programs into all phases of campus activities.


  • California Integrated Waste Mangement Board Waste Reduction Award - 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • City of Pasadena Recycler of the Year Award - 2005, 2007

Waste Diversion