Waste Sorting: Compost, Recycle or Landfill

Grand Valley State University (GVSU) strives to be a sustainable college by utilizing waste sorting stations throughout their campuses. The average human being produces about 4.4 pounds of garbage per day – GVSU would like their students, facility and YOU to all work together to ensure that most of our waste doesn’t end up in a landfill!

Not sure where to throw your trash? Compost it? Recycle it? Or Trash (Landfill) it?


What is it? Compost is made up of decomposed organic material, such as leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen waste. It provides many essential nutrients for plant growth and therefore is often used as fertilizer. The U.S. EPA says about 24 percent of our waste is organic material that can be composted. The main benefit of composting is that it improves soil structure so that soil can easily hold the correct amount of moisture, nutrients and air.

What we compost:

  • All food waste
  • Paper plates
  • Paper cups
  • Napkins/paper towel
  • Pizza boxes
  • Compostable products (this includes the straws and lids from GVSU Campus Dining locations)
  • Utensils

Why? When plastics, aluminum, and other recyclable items go to landfill, harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases are released into the air from these sites. Recycling helps to reduce the amount of pollution caused by waste, it saves energy, and it saves landfill space on this beautiful earth. Recycling also reduces the amount of plastics that go into our ocean and affect the marine life.

What we recycle:

  • Aluminum
  • Glass
  • Plastics #1-7
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Computers
  • Batteries
  • Foil wrappers
  • Markers


What? Landfills are a place to dispose of refuse and other waste material by burying it and covering it over with soil, especially as a method of filling in or extending usable land. Of the 4.4 pounds of waste produced by humans every day, about 91% of that inevitably ends up in the landfill.

Landfill items:

  • Chip bags
  • Foil wrappers
  • Non-recyclable plastics (products without a recycling symbol)
  • Food service gloves
  • Styrofoam
  • Rubber

GVSU’s latest initiative is Zero Waste Football Games, an annual event every football season that strives to have as little landfill waste as possible at each game. If you are interested in learning more or volunteering at one of the Lakers Zero Waste Football Games, contact [email protected]