Zero Waste

Mason is aiming for over 90% waste diverted from our trash stream, or "zero-waste." We are far from that goal, but are working through programs like Green Office, Green Residence, industrially composting all pre- and post consumer food waste in all 3 Fairfax Dining Halls, advising on greener and carbon neutral purchasing, as well as waste, water and energy reduction pilots, engaging events and initiatives like Green Game, Race to Zero, and messaging campaigns to achieve those ends. Key sustainability partners in these efforts for Facilities and University Sustainability include Mason Dining, Mason Housing & Residence Life, Mason Auxiliaries, Mason Athletics, Mason Recreation, and Eagle Bank Arena.

George Mason University also has several other programs to minimize our waste:

  • Surplus Property site, where department across campus can get donated office items for FREE
  • Water Bottle Refill Stations in most every building to encourage the use of reusable water bottles
  • Annual Patriot Pack Out during student move-out, where students donate clothes, appliances, furniture, and food that would otherwise be thrown away when moving out of their residences. In 2019 over 13,000 lbs was diverted from trash
  • Annual "Green Game", our premiere partnership with Mason Athletics and EagleBank Arena, where we have achieved zero-waste the last few years running, as well as 3rd nationally for % waste diverted and per capita waste diverted through RecycleMania's GameDay Challenge.
  • Composting program introduced to Southside and Globe Dining Halls in 2018; in 2019 expanded to all 3 Fairfax Dining Halls, as well as all pre- and post-consumer food and compostable waste.

Waste Minimization – How to Help

Things students, faculty, and staff can do to help:

  • DO ALL THREE R’S. Remember that recycling is the last/ worst option in the hierarchy of  “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.  You can make an even greater difference by REDUCING/ using less of something or REUSING it. The recycling or incineration process uses more energy and is more labor-intensive than reducing or reusing items. #SayNOtoSingleUse 
  • But when you do have to recycle something, please:
    • TAKE THE EXTRA STEP; DISPOSE PROPERLY. Place all trash and recycling in the appropriate bins. Trash that ends up on the ground can be washed into our drainage system and end up in Mason Pond, or even the Chesapeake Bay. Globally, a new study suggests that since its creation 60 years ago, only 9% of all plastics ever made have even been recycled. "Of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled. The vast majority—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. Meaning: at some point, much of it ends up in the oceans, the final sink. If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills."1
    • TAKE THE EXTRA STEP; SORT ACCURATELY. Although glass, cans and plastics are sorted at the recycling facility, paper is sorted by Mason employees. Combining white and mixed paper limits the effectiveness of the recycling process and costs the University money. KEEP PAPER CLEAN & DRY.
    • TAKE THE EXTRA STEP; STOP CONTAMINATION (EMPTY & RINSE!). Rinse out containers before you place them in recycling. The food left in packaging can contaminate the recycling, and can keep the whole batch from being recycled!

Other ways to help reduce waste on campus:

  • VOLUNTEER at GREEN GAME or other ZERO-WASTE events or initiatives.
  • PARTICIPATE IN PPO. If you live on campus, participate in Patriot Pack Out (PPO) during student move-out in May. Your donated clothing, non-perishable food, small appliances, and other items will be given to local families in need.
  • BECOME AN AMBASSADOR. Represent your office as a Green Office 'Ambassador'
  • LEARN MORE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY. Visit Mason’s University Sustainability at to get more information on how to be green at Mason!

Facilities Work Requests

  • Trash collection and disposal services are provided by Facilities on a daily basis through contract services.
  • For new bins, replacement bins, or special pick-ups, please contact the Customer Service Center at 703-993-2525 or email
  • You may also submit your work request online here.

Facilities Customer Service Center: call 703-993-2525 or email

Contact Info

Facilities Customer Service
Phone: 703-993-2525

1. PARKER, LAURA. “A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn't Recycled.” National Geographic, 20 Dec. 2018,