Recycling FAQs


What is Single Stream Recycling?

In 2007, Notre Dame switched to single stream recycling.  That means recyclables no longer need to be sorted – it all goes in the same recycling container.  The recyclables collected on campus are sent to a regional recycling facility, where the different materials are sorted using screens, magnets, and optical scanners.  Items that are not recyclable are to be placed in the containers marked trash or landfill.

What goes in the recycling bin?

Many things are recyclable as long as food and liquids are first dumped into the trash.
Recyclable items on campus include:
  • Clean paper, including newsprint, catalogs, magazines, phone books, copy paper, and junk mail and junk mail envelopes with plastic windows - no wax coating, please
  • Clean plastic items numbered 1 - 6
  • Clean glass food & beverage containers clear or colored
  • Clean metal cans and aluminum food and beverage containers
  • Clean cardboard, including empty, clean pizza boxes as well as other empty cardboard - no wax coating, please
  • Clean unused towels and napkins
  • Recyclable items with a slight amount of food residue are acceptable (think ketchup on a plate)

What does not go in the recycling bin?

  • Plastic bags
  • Styrofoam
  • Flexible packaging and multi-laminated materials
  • Food & liquids, used tissues, wet paper towels, and broken household items – these go in the trash!
  • Batteries and non-university cell phones: These go in the battery buckets, typically found on the first floor of your building. The buckets are sent to a special recycling company when full.  
  • Toner Cartridges: Plastic mailers can be found at recycling centers in your building. Place your toner in a mailer (or a regular envelope if it doesn’t fit) and put it in campus mail addressed to Recycling 100 Mason Services Center. The toner cartridges are sent back to the manufacturer to be refilled. 
  • CFL Lightbulbs: Designated collection containers should be located in all dorms for special pickup.  Offices should give their burned out bulbs to Maintenance or call 631-8888.
  • University Cell Phones, tablets, and Computers: Fax in an ND Surplus form to request a pickup.

Why can I recycle some items on campus that I can’t recycle at home?

Your home city may contract with a waste management operation that has different recycling capabilities. Notre Dame’s recycling is handled by Waste Management, whose state of the art sorting facility in Calumet City, IL is able to handle all of the recyclable items listed above.

Should I remove bottle caps from plastic milk jugs and soda bottles before placing them in the recycling bin?

Removing bottle caps is not necessary and can actually be detrimental to the recycling sorting process. Because bottle caps are so small, once a cap is removed from its bottle it is more likely to be incorrectly sorted. It is best to leave caps attached to bottles, but make sure that the bottle is completely empty before recycling it.

Where can I dispose of non-university paint, pesticides, aerosols, products that contain mercury, and tires?

These items can be disposed of through St. Joseph’s County Solid Waste Management.  Visit their website for more information about accepted materials and drop-off locations.

What if I am missing a recycling bin?

To request a recycling bin, battery bucket, or additional toner cartridge mailers, please email

How do I recycle off-campus?

  • Paper/Plastic/Glass/Aluminum: Single stream is common off-campus but please check your local township for specifics on accepted items: City of Mishawaka and South Bend
  • CFL Lightbulbs: intact bulbs can go to nearly any local hardware store and broken bulbs can be disposed of at St. Joseph’s County Solid Waste Management Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Site
  • Electronics & Appliances: Best Buy has a great program for recycling old laptops, televisions, and even refrigerators.