Can I Recycle This?

There are a variety of opportunities to recycle and donate items on and off campus. Princeton is committed to reducing its total waste stream while increasing the percentage of recycling across all categories including "household" items, demolition and construction debris, and food waste. Learn more about the University's progress toward our waste reduction goals.

Mixed Recycling Guidelines:

Everywhere on campus you can now mix all acceptable recyclables - paper, plastic, metal, etc. - in any recycling bin, even if the label says otherwise; all bins will soon be accurately labeled. Be sure to read the recycling guidelines below and empty out containers (keep caps/lids on) before placing them in the bins. Download an abbreviated guide to what you can and can't recycle (.png)


Mixed Paper and Cardboard

  • Office paper and mail (glossy paper, plastic envelope windows, metal staples and clips are okay)
  • Cardboard and paperboard (break down/flatten boxes)
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Posters
  • Paper bags
  • Books (both hard cover and paperback)


  • Plastic containers with recycling codes #1-7* (empty out containers; lids are okay, but should be attached to the container)

* What is a plastic recycling code? A number, usually in a triangle on the bottom of the container:

recycling codes


  • Glass bottles and jars (empty out containers; colors are okay)


  • Aluminum (e.g. beverage cans) and steel/tin cans and lids (empty out containers)
  • Aerosol cans (e.g. empty food and household cleaning products)

Not Recyclable

  • Napkins, paper towels and tissues
  • Paper contaminated with food
  • Food
  • Alkaline batteries - yes, they can be thrown in the trash!
  • Tetra paks
  • Plastic- or wax-coated paper, cardboard and cartons
  • Metal-lined shelf-stable "aseptic" containers (e.g. milk, soup)

Other Recycling and Donation Collections on Campus:

Clothing, Furniture, Household Items and More!

  • Free and For Sale – Facebook group for miscellaneous items (for students only)
  • Tiger-Trade – Furniture, books, housing, jobs and more!
  • University Surplus – Donate or find furniture, electronics, binders, folders and more! (open to Princeton faculty/staff/students on Tuesdays, open to everyone on Thursdays - items are free to all University Departments and Recognized Student Agencies and/or Groups)
  • Free Office Supplies Listserv - Receive and send emails offering new or gently used office supplies for free. Open to Princeton community (students/staff/faculty) only!

Electronics and Batteries

  • Cell phones and peripherals: A Wireless Alliance recycling bin is available on the 100 level of Frist. Phones are donated or recycled in an EPA certified domestic facility. 
  • Rechargeable batteries: A Wireless Alliance recycling box is available on the 100 level of Frist (around the corner from Witherspoon's cafe near the UPS and FedEx boxes). Note: using rechargeable batteries is a greener choice as Alkaline batteries are not recyclable!
  • For certain 9 volt battery types, including alkaline, carbon-zinc and mercury, recycling kits are available from Waste Management Associates. 
  • Ink and toner cartridges: Recycling bins are available in most computer clusters. All University departments can request a toner cartridge recycling container from Office Max.  For more information, please contact Office Max customer service representative, Cynthia Heumann.
  • Properly dispose of broken, outdated and unusable electronics (computers, laptops, printers, fax machines, office phones, etc.) through the University Surplus Program. For more information, email or call (609) 258-2347.

Plastic Bags

  • Plastic bags can be recycled at the U-Store in designated containers.


  • Writing Utensils can be recycled at the GreenSpace Kiosk in Frist through TerraCycle®. The following types of utensils can be collected: Pens, pen caps, mechanical pencils, markers, marker caps, highlighters, highlighter caps, permanent markers, permanent markers caps. Waste is sent to Terracycle and then upcycled or recycled into various products. To request a pen recycling box for your office or department, please contact Lisa Nicolaison

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

Building Services collects used CFL light bulbs. Reach out to the custodial staff within your building to initiate a collection and for more information. Two off-campus options are also available to recycle your used CFL bulbs:

  • Take to the service counter of any Home Depot to be recycled for free
  • Order a kit from Waste Management Associates which allows you to mail your bulbs to a recycling facility


  • There is a very robust food scraps recycling effort on campus. In the dining halls, all food scraps both from the kitchen and plate scrapings are sent to AgriArk, based in Hopewell, NJ. The composting program was featured in the Daily Princetonian. All back-of-the-counter scraps from prep in Frist are also sent to the same location.
  • Graduate Students have opportunities to compost at their apartment complexes. Contact your residence council or committee for more information about how and where to compost. Students who live off campus in the town of Princeton can participate in the municipal curbside organic program.

Off Campus Recycling Resources:

For more information on recycling at Princeton or to request a recycling bin, contact Building Services at 258-3490 or Facilities Customer Service at 258-8000.