The Zero Waste School's Program

Oceanside Unified School District’s Zero Waste Schools Initiative

In partnership with the City of Oceanside, Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) became the FIRST school district in the Nation to commit to the goal of Zero Waste. Through the adoption of the School District’s  Zero Waste Resolution in 2014, OUSD set a goal of achieving a 75% recycling rate by 2020. To assist them in reaching this goal, the City of Oceanside created the Zero Waste Schools Program.

Zero Waste Schools Program

As of Spring of 2019, the Zero Waste Schools Program was completed, with City staff implementing the program at all 23 OUSD campuses. This includes, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and administration buildings.

City staff worked with each individual location and provided staffing resources and infrastructure to each school site to support source reduction, recycling, and food recovery. This City funded and staffed initiative included 8 steps for full implementation, including: initial meetings with school principals; school-wide waste audits; presentations to staff and teachers; classroom-based education presentations; trainings for custodial and nutrition services staff; zero waste infrastructure placements throughout school campuses; follow-up waste audits; and final results review and next steps.

Click here to view a sample packet of the Zero Waste Schools Program 8 Step Guide.


The City also provided each school with an OUSD-branded share table to include within each of their nutritional services kitchens/cafeterias.  Share tables are located in student common eating areas where students can take their unwanted pre-packaged, non-perishable foods and leave for other students who might want additional food.

Throughout the semester-long implementation process, City staff measures the amount of waste generated by the participating campus and then educates the entire school community on how to reduce their waste and recycle as much as they can. Once a school fully implemented the program their recycling rate increased on average from 10% to 70%.

Students for Zero Waste

Whether you are looking for curriculum to expand your students’ knowledge on recycling, or you would like to learn more about going zero waste in Oceanside, you can visit to access FREE educational tutorials geared towards K-3rd, 4th-7th, and 8th-12th grade students. You even have the opportunity to win a shirt while supplies last!