Sustainability at the University of Maryland

What Can I Recycle On Campus?

Our campus recycling program offers “Single Stream” Recycling! This means that you can put all of your recyclable materials into one recycling bin.

    Acceptable Items:

  • Paper: Newspaper, magazines, computer paper
  • Plastic Containers: #1-7 bottles, jugs, trays, etc.
  • Cardboard: cereal boxes, frozen food packaging, etc.
  • Aluminum: cans, containers, foil, pie pans, etc.
  • Books: paperback, textbooks, hardback, phone
  • Steel/Tin Cans: soup cans, fruit cans, etc.
  • Waxed Cartons: milk and juice cartons, juice boxes
  • Glass: jars and bottles

    Unacceptable Items:

  • Plastic Bags/Film: recycling bins specifically designated for collecting plastic waste can be found in Terp Zone in the Stamp Student Union and each residential convenience store on campus (Commons, Leonardtown, North Campus and 24 Shops) go here for more information on plastic bags and film.
  • Styrofoam: packing peanutes, cups, egg cartons, insulation, etc. (even if the item has a recycling symbol)
  • Light Bulbs: incandescent nor compact florescent
  • Broken Glass: lab glass, windowpanes, mirrors, etc.
  • Toxic Materials Containers: motor oil, antifreeze, etc.
  • Auto Parts: tires, tail/headlights, windshield wipers, grilles, etc.
  • Medical Waste: bandages, surgical gloves/instruments, needles, etc.
  • Hazardous Waste: flammable, reactive, corrosive and/or toxic materials

Click here to download and print the SustainableUMD Recycling and Trash Posters

Collections stations for compostable, organic material can be found in all campus dining halls and in the Stamp Student Union. All food scraps and paper products are biodegradable; these are decomposable and can break down into their most basic elements.

    Compostable items:

  • All Food Scraps: including meat, dairy, bones and produce
  • Soiled Paper: napkins, paper towels, tissues, greasy pizza boxes, etc.
  • Coffee and Tea: coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, sugar/sweetener packets
  • Biodegradable Containers: paper cups, paper plates, paper take-out containers, bagasse and compostable cutlery; please ensure the item does not have a plastic coating

Most of the personal waste generated on campus are recyclable or compostable. However, there are a few remaining items that must be sent to the landfill.

    Landfill items:

  • Packets and Wrappers: condiement packets, candy and food wrappers, chip bags, etc.
  • Small Plastic Items: including lids and straws, creamer cups, plastic cutlery, etc.
  • Styrofoam: even if there is a recycle symbol on this item, Styrofoam is not recyclable on campus
  • Broken Glass: lab glass, windowpanes, mirrors, etc.

Plastic That Can Be Recycled

All types of plastic, numbers 1-7 can be recycled (see descriptions below). This means you can recycle microwavable lunch trays, yogurt containers, and all other plastic items. However, before you recycle, please rinse off plastic food containers. Beverage bottles do not have to be rinsed but please twist the cap back on before recycling the bottle.” Plastic bags and wrap can now be recycled. Please put them in a clear plastic bag and include them with glass, metal, and plastic recyclables.

Types of Plastic that Can Be Recycled On Campus:

  • #1 PET (Polyethylene terephthalate): soda bottles, oven-ready meal trays, water bottles, etc.
  • #2 HDPE (High-density polyethylene): milk bottles, detergent bottles, etc.
  • #3 PVC (Polyvinyl chloride): salad dressing bottles, cooking oil bottles, etc.
  • #4 LDPE (Low-density polyethylene): squeezable bottles
  • #5 PP (Polypropylene): medicine bottles, aerosol caps, and food containers (such as yogurt, ketchup bottles, and sour cream/butter/hummus tubs)
  • #6 PS (Polystyrene): Styrofoam products are not accepted for recycling on campus, but foam packing peanuts can be donated for re-use to Mailboxes Etc. in College Park.
  • #7 Other: reusable water bottles, certain kinds of food containers, and Tupperware

All of Your Paper

We recycle paper of any color and type (newspaper, magazines, file folders, copy paper, junk mail, cardboard, etc.) If you use the simple rule, "if it tears, recycle it," you will be safe! You cannot recycle used paper towels, napkins and tissues. Pizza boxes are recyclable as long as the leftovers/wax paper liner are thrown away first.

Bottles, Cans, and other Metal

Soda cans, tuna cans, glass bottles... throw them all into the appropriate recycling containers. Sheets of aluminum foil can be balled up and put in recycling bins with glass/metal/plastic. Other aluminum containers such as pie pans and lids from some carry-out restaurants are recyclable. Rinse off all food from the aluminum. Video: Bill Nye explains why recycling aluminum is so important!


All electronic equipment at the University is considered surplus equipment and is collected by Terrapin Trader. Functional equipment may be sold to the general public and that which cannot be sold or does not work is sent to a qualified vendor where it is deconstructed into individual components which are recycled. To contact Terrapin Trader, visit

Used Toner and Ink Cartridges

All used toner and ink cartridges from University fax machines and printers are accepted by General Stores, part of Procurement and Supply. You may either have your item picked up when you receive a delivery from General Stores (the delivery people will just take it) or you may send the item or deliver it to: General Stores Building 383 (on Paint Branch Parkway across from the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute) Campus Zip 6711. If you have any questions about, call General Stores at 301.405.5854.


Batteries of all types can now be recycled on campus. To order a battery recycling bin for your building, please email Lead acid batteries can be recycled by contacting the Department of Environmental Safety at 301.405.3960.

Food Waste is Composted in Dining Halls

Food left on your plate will be composted if you eat in the dining halls. If you must use take-out containers (made of biodegradable bagasse), you can dispose of them in the compost bins located in dining hall dining rooms.

Still have questions? See the Recycling FAQs...