Current Status

2020-2021: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ASR has continued to operate on campus as much as possible. A small team of Route Riders continues to service waste bins on campus while ASR coordinators are working both remotely and in-person. We are hopeful that we can resume all normal operations in the Fall of 2021 and are looking forward to seeing everyone on campus soon!

During a normal school year, the Associated Students Recycling (ASR) team typically consists of 12 Route Riders, 2 Route Rider Coordinators, 1 Outreach Coordinator, 1 Administrative Coordinator, and 1 career -staff Program Coordinator. Other than the Program Coordinator ASR is staffed entirely by students. From the hiring process, to daily operations, and implementing new programs, students are 100% involved in the management of ASR.

Our operations include:

  • Managing the receptacles for all outdoor recycling and compost, all waste in AS buildings, and e-waste and compost bins in pilot buildings and offices
  • Reaching out to the UCSB community through campaigns and workshops to promote proper waste diversion and its benefits
  • Partnering with Facilities Management to provide waste diversion services at UCSB events
  • Working closely with other sustainability organizations such as the Department of Public Worms and Zero Waste Committee to help reduce campus waste

ASR is supervised by Katee Gustavson. Katee oversees the student team to ensure that operations are running smoothly and effectively. She also keeps ASR connected with other sustainability organizations on campus. ASR’s current focus is on expanding and improving operations so that we can help the UCSB campus reach its goal of zero waste.

Image: ASR and DPW


Associated Students Recycling (ASR) began in 1993, when a small group of students were unhappy with the current campus recycling efforts (around 3% of all waste). These students were able to get an initiative added to the Associated Students Spring 1994 ballot that would charge every undergraduate student on campus a $0.75 fee per quarter to fund a recycling program. The initiative passed with 85% approval and provided about $34,000. The first students, two recycling coordinators and two recycling workers, worked with Mary Ann Hopkins, a Facilities Management staff member, to get the program underway, and the program was operated through Facilities. With insufficient funding for permanent bins, they first placed 22 temporary bins donated by the California Department of Integrated Waste Management. Since the foundation of ASR, the organization has developed into an integral part of UCSB’s waste management on campus.


The following is an overview of ASR developments since 1993:

Permanent Bins Placed on Campus (mid 90’s): ASR received a grant from the California Department of Conservation to have the first 60 permanent recycling bins put onto campus. These bins, named Berthas, are 4-unit clusters that collect landfill, paper, glass, metal and in a few locations compost. ASR still manages and services these Berthas today.

Department of Public Worms Formation (2004): Department of Public Worms (DPW) was originally created to start compost programs on campus and in Isla Vista. DPW students were also instrumental in getting compost bins on campus and compostable products in various campus eateries such as the UCen. Today, ASR route riders collect compost as part of their routes awhile DPW has branched off into their own organization which focuses on on-site composting, gardening, food waste reduction and education. To learn about DPW’s current focuses, visit their webpage.

Electronic Waste Recycling Begins (2007): The electronic waste program, called Techno, was formed to deal with the large issue of e-waste on campus. This program was originally managed by an all Techno team of around 4 students but now student Route Riders collect e-waste and the program is managed by the Routes Student Coordinators. Over 40 e-waste bins are serviced on campus. In 2015 alone we diverted 18 tons of e-waste from landfills and our goal is to increase this amount every year.

Compost Pilot Project (2012): This program created six indoor post-consumer compost drop-off locations on campus, with all waste collected by DPW students. Today, the indoor compost is collected once a week by route riders as part of their normal recycling routes. The compost collected is used to grow food in the Eucalyptus Grove.

Big Belly Solar Bins Placed: Big Bellies are solar-powered compacting units and are the newest bins on our campus. Solar panels give the Big Bellies power to act as trash compactors, allowing them to store more waste. Our Route Riders service a majority of UCSB’s Big Bellies.

Event Waste Services: ASR created the Event Waste Services program to improve waste diversion at UCSB events. With this program, ASR provides recycling, compost, and landfill receptacles at events so that waste can be easily sorted and properly disposed of. Originally, this program was managed solely by ASR but today it is managed by ASR and Facilities Management.

Apartment Compost Initiative (2018): The Apartment Compost Initiative began as the San Clemente Compost Pilot Program in 2018 when two Bren students decided composting should be available to students living in campus-owned apartments.  They joined forces with AS Recycling, applied for a TGIF grant, and got the program started. Over the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, the program expanded to include the undergraduate apartments.


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