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.

Recycling Guidelines:

Everywhere on campus you can 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. 

Help us make recycling a success on campus by recycling properly and avoiding contamination. Visit our FAQ page on contamination and recycling for more information.


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)
  • Food and beverage cartons
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Posters
  • Paper bags
  • Books (both hard cover and paperback)


  • Plastic bottles, jugs and tubs (empty out containers; lids are okay, but should be attached to the container. However foil lids like those used for yogurt containers should be removed)


  • Glass bottles and jars (empty out containers; colored glass is okay)


  • Aluminum (e.g. beverage cans), steel/tin cans, lids and serving trays (collapse as much as possible) - empty out all containers

Not Recyclable

  • Napkins, paper towels, tissues, and other paper kitchen products. 
  • Paper contaminated with food
  • To-go coffee cups and paper soda cups
  • Plastic beverage pods (K-cups, etc.) (See information below on the Grounds to Grow On Program)
  • Plastic "clam shell" containers with lids
  • Plastic solo cups
  • Food waste
  • Plastic forks and knives
  • Alkaline batteries (please see below for information about rechargeable batteries)
  • Tetra paks
  • Plastic- or wax-coated paper, cardboard and cartons
  • Metal-lined shelf-stable "aseptic" containers (e.g. milk, soup)
  • Plastic wrappers
  • Plastic bags - but they can be recycled at the U-Store 
  • Styrofoam
  • Ceramics - whole or broken coffee cups or plates go in the trash
  • Broken glass - broken windows, light bulb glass, glass dishes/plates/cups go in the trash
  • Aerosol cans (e.g. empty food and household cleaning products)

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 and staff on Tuesdays, open to everyone on Thursdays)
  • 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!
  • Trenton Rescue Mission - Clothing donations are accepted year-round in a collection box, located in Lot 20 at the far left end, near the fence and Lakeside Apartments.
  • Grounds to Grow On: K-Cup Pod Recovery Program - WB Mason provides this program for free to all University departments who meet the following requirement: Either have a WB Mason free rental machine or own your own Keurig machine and purchase all K-cup products from WB Mason. To sign up for the program, email Jim Robertson with your Department name and address for the Grounds to Grow on collection boxes to be sent to your department. WB Mason also offers certified organic, Fair Trade certified, and Rainforest Alliance certified coffee products.

Electronics and Batteries

  • A Wireless Alliance recycling bin is available on the 100 level of Frist (around the corner from Witherspoon's cafe near the UPS and FedEx boxes) and accepts: all cell phones, smart phones, PDA's, iPods, digital cameras and iPads regardless of age or condition, chargers and accessories, rechargeable batteries, all accessories including cases. Items are donated or recycled in an EPA certified domestic facility. 
  • Rechargeable batteries can be recycled in the Wireless Alliance bin mentioned above. 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. Printer cartridges can be recycled through WB Mason - to this up for your office, please contact Jim Robertson at or 609-783-7481.
  • Properly dispose of broken, outdated and unusable office 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.

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 and Frist Campus Center, 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
  • 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.