Recycling Guidelines

There are a variety of opportunities to recycle and donate items on and off campus. One of the key goals in Princeton's Sustainability Action Plan is to strive for zero waste through behavioral and operational strategies that include reduction, reuse and recycling. 

Recycling on Campus App:

Princeton Facilities recently launched the “Recycling on Campus” mobile app to make recycling easier for the campus community. Through the app's search function, users will be able to quickly determine what can--and can't--be recycled on campus. They will also receive updates about campus recycling and related initiatives.

The app can be accessed free of charge from mobile devices through the iTunes Store and Google Play, or through digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

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 (remove caps/lids) 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.

Recyclable

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

Plastic

  • Plastic bottles and jugs (empty out containers; remove plastic lids)

Glass

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

Metal

  • 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)
  • 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!
  • Resource Recovery – Donate or find furniture, electronics, binders, folders and more! The warehouse is located Our warehouse is located at 755 Alexander Road and open to Princeton faculty and staff 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 Carol Salva 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.
  • HELPSY Clothing Donation Bins are being piloted across campus in laundry rooms in the following locations: Bloomberg Hall 4th Floor, Forbes College main building and basement in the annex, Witherspoon Hall, Baker Hall, Henry Hall, Pyne Hall and Spelman Hall.

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 sign this up for your office, please contact Donna Serafine at donna.serafine@wbmason.com or 888-926-2766 x1693.
  • Properly dispose of broken, outdated and unusable office electronics (computers, laptops, printers, fax machines, office phones, etc.) through the University's Resource Recovery Program. For more information, email resourcerecovery@princeton.edu or call (609) 258-2347. 

Books

  • Books can be donated to Better World Books at several collection locations across campus, listed below. Better World Books finds the best possible use for each book collected in support of our mission to promote literacy. Books are either sold to raise money for non-profit literacy programs, sent to one of our non-profit partners for use in their programs, or recycled if unsuitable for sale or partner use. Accepted materials include: books and monographs, rare books, children's books, textbooks, foreign language books, hardcover and paperback, DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs, audiobooks on CD, video games.
    • School of Engineering and Applied Science
    • Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    • Office of Registrar
    • Classics Department
    • Chemical and Biological Engineering
    • Center for the Study of Religion
    • Geosciences
    • Princeton Environmental Institute
    • Tiger Card & Transportation & Parking Services
    • Program in Visual Arts
    • Princeton University Press
    • Physics
    • Department of Spanish and Portuguese
    • Office of Sustainability
    • Office of Alumni Affairs
    • English Department

Plastic Bags

  • Plastic bags can be recycled at the U-Store and in Frist in designated plastic film recycling containers.

Composting

  • The University sends its food waste to Organic Diversion, a food waste hauler based in Marlton, N.J. Organic Diversion is unique in the industry because of its collection methodology and technology, which turns a portion of the food waste it collects into renewable energy. Organic Diversion steps in when food cannot be sold or repurposed, and diverts it from landfills to reduce the impact on the environment.
  • In September 2018, the Office of Sustainability launched a food scraps demonstration project to support both the University’s sustainability goals and research and education mission. The
    Sustainable Composting Research at Princeton Lab or S.C.R.A.P. Lab involves a FOR Solutions Model 1000 composting system. The S.C.R.A.P. Lab is located behind the FitzRandolph Observatory building and converts a portion of the campus’s uneaten food into a nutrient-rich soil amendment for campus grounds, while supporting academic research around organics recycling.

  • 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.

Off Campus Recycling Resources:

  • Earth 911 - Search for something you want to recycle, results are filtered by recycling centers near you!

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.