Recycling

Have you ever wondered if what you’ve heard about recycling is true or if what you want to recycle is accepted in a recycling bin on campus? Here are some facts about recyclables, non-recyclables, and a few recycling dos and don’ts.

Items that CAN be recycled on campus

  • Plastic bottles, pails, tubs, and jugs that have a recycle symbol on the bottom with number 1, 2, or 5.
  • Glass bottles and jars.
  • Paper- including magazines and flat cardboard.
  • Metal cans and food tins.
  • Batteries- but only if placed in a battery specific container.  If you do not have a specific container for batteries in your office or residence hall, contact Environmental, Health, and Safety at ehs@sandiego.edu to request one.
  • Electronics and light bulbs- must place a work request with Facilities Management and they will send someone to pick up the items for proper recycling.
    • If the electronics are still in working condition, donate them in one of the donation collection bins on campus instead.  Review the sustainability filter of the campus map for locations.

Items that canNOT be recycled on campus

  • Plastics with a recycle number of 3, 4, 6, or 7.
  • Plastic straws/utensils.
  • Snack/chip bags.
  • Styrofoam peanuts/containers, foil, wax paper, and plastic wrap.
  • Broken glass, ceramics, and mirrors.
  • Paper towels, napkins, and tissues.
  • Food scraps (compost them).
Recycling Infographic

Debunking recycling myths

  • When recycling products of any material, the item must be rinsed and free of residue or liquid; that includes bottles, cans, and food containers. If the item still has food remnants it can contaminate the entire bin and then none of the items inside the bin can be recycled.
  • Coffee cups with a wax liner cannot be recycled. But usually, the lid can- look for the recycle symbol and be sure to rinse it off.
  • Paper, including old magazines and homework assignments, can be recycled, but photos, sticky notes, and paper that is soiled cannot.
  • You do not need to remove staples when recycling papers but remove as much tape as possible from an item before tossing it in the recycling bin.
  • Gift wrap that is made out of paper can be recycled, but metallic and plastic wrapping paper cannot.
  • Cut or rip off any parts of cardboard (like pizza boxes) that are soiled and recycle what is clean.
  • There is no need to remove labels from recyclables, those will be removed as the materials are processed for manufacturing.
  • Do not put recyclables in a plastic bag. Plastic bags are not recyclable so should be kept out of the recycling bin.
  • Aerosol cans (e.g. air freshener, cleaning products, hair spray, sunscreen, etc.) can be recycled as long as the can is completely empty of all contents.
  • Recycling helps save energy- on average, it takes 50% less energy to make products from recycled materials, than making them from new materials.
  • While it is trash will decompose over time, non-recycled plastics can take up to 1,000 years to decompose and glass can take thousands of years!