Recycling FAQ

In 2007, Notre Dame switched to single stream recycling.  That means that all clean paper, glass, and plastics can go in the same recycling container.  Single stream recycling is convenient and effective, but we now need to focus on clean and contaminant-free recyclables.  Previously, any recycling with 10 percent or less of food residue would be accepted and recycled.  Now, in order for recyclable items to avoid the landfill, the acceptable rate of residue for all recycling containing food or beverage is less than 0.5%.

You should notice new recycling signage in buildings across campus.  Thank you for your patience and continued commitment to ensure our campus recycling is clean.  For any general questions, please contact the Office of Sustainability at or 1-2748.  For a printable version of the October 2018 recycling sign, click here.

What goes in the recycling bin?

Many things are recyclable as long as food and liquids are emptied out first.

Recyclable items on campus include:

  • Clean paper, including newsprint, catalogs, magazines, phone books, copy paper, and junk mail and mail envelopes with the plastic window removed - 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, empty cardboard - no wax coating, please
  • Clean unused towels and napkins

Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.

What does not go in the recycling bin?

  • Food and liquids
  • Plastic bags
  • Straws
  • Styrofoam
  • Hot beverage cups
  • Plastic utensils
  • Flexible packaging and multi-laminated materials
  • Sticky notes
  • CD's - these can be recycled through the electronic recycling program on campus.  Please submit an AiM work order to schedule a pick-up.  
  • 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, located in Hammes Mowbray Lobby, DeBartolo Hall Help Desk Room 115, outside the former ITC Building Computer Service and Repair Office, Rockne Memorial Building Front Desk, and the Main Building West Side Entrance Recycling Station
  • Toner Cartridges: Submit an AiM Work Request using the problem code RECYCLING to schedule a pick-up.  Please be specific to the location, the number of cartridges to be picked up, and include a contact name and phone number.
  • 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: Submit a pick-up request through the AiM Work Control Center using Surplus Pickup as the problem code.

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. 

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.

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 be disposed of at St. Joseph’s County Solid Waste Management Household Hazardous Waste drop-off site as well as some local hardware stores.
  • Electronics & Appliances:  The Solid Waste Management District of St. Joseph County collects obsolete electronics at the District Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) location, and all electronics are accepted free of charge. Best Buy also accepts outdated electronics for recycling (some are accepted free of charge, some are accepted for recycling for a fee).  Please check their website before visiting.