Recycling on Campus

Our University’s mission and Catholic values remind us that reducing waste is an essential part of caring for our common home. The success of the expanding campus recycling program relies on each of us, as we all play a significant role in shaping a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Significant changes in the recycling industry have challenged waste diversion efforts worldwide, demanding the University adapt its campus recycling services. Waste management services like recycling are complex, and require collaboration and dedication from multiple departments to ensure success. At Notre Dame, Building Services and Sustainability have partnered to respond to recycling changes and rebuild the program to accommodate for today’s market.


A gray bin labeled landfill positioned next to a blue toter labeled recycling.


The Current State of Recycling

Single-stream recycling has returned to the campus on a broader scale once again. To make the process more effective and ensure that our recyclables are being properly recycled, we need to refocus our efforts on collecting clean and contaminant-free recyclables. The Building Services and Recycling Services team members, along with the Office of Sustainability staff have been working to reintroduce single-stream recycling across campus via the centralized toter system, which works just like your municipal recycling pick-up system at home. Throughout the 2023-2024 academic year, the University will be phasing in an updated approach to expand recycling accessibility and reduce contamination. The following updates are scheduled to occur:

  • As of August 2023, all residence halls have recycling available on every floor when spatially possible. Students are still responsible for emptying unbagged recyclables from their personal bins into the centrally located toters within their residence halls.

  • As of August 2023, DeBartolo and O'Shaughnessy Halls are piloting academic space updates, which include removing trash and recycling bins from classrooms and securing paired centralized toter and landfill locations. This change seeks to support the cleanliness of classroom spaces and streamline waste pick-up. As we learn and adapt from these piloted spaces, more academic units will be updated with such changes. Our website will be updated throughout the semester to reflect these changes.

  • Throughout the academic year, old common area recycling collection bins are going away in academic and office spaces. This process began in 2022 and continues today. Removal includes bins that are currently located in copy rooms, hallways, classrooms, labs, kitchens, etc. The only centralized recycling stations available will be where a recycling toter is situated. See the list of locations to find a toter nearest you. Personal desk-side recycling bins will still be available. Occupants are encouraged to empty their personal bins into centralized waste collection toters between scheduled service intervals. If you have mobility limitations and require assistance emptying your personal bin, please contact your building manager for accommodations. Overall, this change helps to reduce material contamination and ensure consistency for recycling across campus.

  • The current aesthetic of open-air toters is not the final decision. Implementing toters across campus is only the first step in this process. As we continue to identify the various spatial needs of the campus, further decisions will be made about how to better blend toters into the aesthetics of our beautiful campus and its unique collection of buildings.

Previous Recycling Changes on Campus

In 2007, Notre Dame switched to single-stream recycling on campus, allowing clean recyclables to be collected in the same recycling container. Blue centralized bins were located throughout common campus spaces to increase collection efforts and bagged by custodial staff.

Faced with significant fluctuations in the worldwide recycling markets, along with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, campus recycling in non-residence halls was temporarily paused during 2020. The University continued its efforts of collecting clean cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard for recycling in the residence halls. Additional efforts were made to expand recycling into other buildings on campus.

Additional Recycling Resources

Submit feedback about the current recycling expansion changes

Learn what can be recycled on campus through the single-stream recycling program

Learn where and how to recycle on campus