"Meet" Recycle Coach

January 31, 2024

By Derek Martin, Sustainability Programs Manager 


It’s a brisk yet sunny winter day on campus. As you head towards your morning lecture you swing by Perks to grab a coffee to fuel the day ahead. Ah, sweet sweet caffeine! Before entering your classroom the now empty paper cup confused480.jpg is weighing you down. Out of the corner of your eye you spot an electric blue recycling bin next to landfill and  compost bins. You approach to dispose of the cup but the all-too-familiar conundrum ensues, which bin should the cup go into? You consult the signs, you look at the cup, and yet questions remain. Before you know it, you’ve spent 30 seconds hemming and hawing over the correct bin to use. You cross your fingers, close your eyes, hope for the best, and toss the cup in a bin. 

Which bin did you pick? 

If you picked the compost bin you would have been correct! All single-use to-go items provided by dining halls and retail locations on campus are compostable. 

sammytrash380.jpgYou could always bring your own reusable mug to any cafe on campus to avoid a 25 cent single-use cup fee and receive another 25 cent discount (save money and the planet!) but that won’t solve the confusion around waste. 

The good news is you’re not alone, the vast majority of campus has questions about proper waste sorting. Waste rules change over time, they differ between cities, and signs can’t show every item that’s accepted in a bin. Oh the confusion! 

The even better news is we have a new resource to help solve that confusion! 

Recycle Coach is a waste sorting app that tells users what to do with their specific item. Simply download the app, it’s available in the Apple and Google Play app stores. Create a free account and select UC Santa Cruz as your location. From there, simply search (or take a picture) of any item and the app will tell you how to properly dispose of it. Recycle Coach has been created using UCSC’s specific waste rules so you can rest assured that you’ve properly disposed of your item. 

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Recycle Coach’s search feature is also available on the newly launched UCSC Waste Management website! Enjoy all the same great content from the mobile app but from the comfort of your computer.