What Can You Recycle at CWRU?

Recycling programs are different everywhere you go in the world. Please learn how we do it here at CWRU!


If you're unsure if an item can be recycled here on campus, take a look at our recycling resources. Our guides below will help you know what can be recycled and where it can be recycled. If you do not see a specific item in our guide, you may also check out Cuyahoga Recycles, our solid waste district page. Please be sure to select CLEVELAND HEIGHTS when you conduct your search.


Don't be a wishcycler. Contamination is a serious problem in the recycling industry. As much as you may believe an item should be recyclable, it is best to not take any chances. If you checked all the recycling resources and there is still no evidence your item can be recycled at CWRU, please throw it out. 

navy blue and white sign with instructions on what can and can not be recycled on campus

Recycle only plastic bottles and jugs including:

  • drink bottles (replace the lid!)

  • shampoo and conditioner bottles

  • condiment bottles

  • soap bottles
  • laundry detergent jugs

  • Triple-rinsed plastic bottles from labs

    DO NOT INCLUDE: Solo cups, yogurt tubs, butter tubs, take-out containers, plastic cutlery, straws, plastic pipettes, tip boxes, film plastics such as grocery, Ziploc bags, bread bags, or bubble wrap, and polystyrene (Styrofoam). Film plastics such as plastic bags can be recycled at many stores locally but not on campus.

Metal containers including:

  • Soup cans (include the lids!) 
  • Vegetable cans 
  • Aluminum cans (soda cans)

Scrap metal, such as old equipment, shelving, and any other pieces of metal larger than food cans, can often be recycled by submitting a service request through the Customer Service Center.  

Glass containers with the lid left on to maintain integrity including:

  • Bottles
  • Jars 

DO NOT INCLUDE: Drinking glasses, window glass, lab glass (beakers, flasks, slides, petri dishes, etc.), Pyrex, Ceramics (dishes) or any broken glass.

If your lab has a large volume of lab glass to recycle please contact us to see if we can facilitate a special collection. 


Paper can go in the Mixed Recycling bin. CWRU accepts all paper that tears, including:

  • White and colored copy paper
  • Notebook paper (spirals OK!)
  • Envelopes (with or without windows)
  • Post-It notes
  • Magazines, newspaper inserts, catalogs and publications
  • Newspapers
  • Paperboard/ Boxboard/ Chipboard – the material most cereal, crackers, shoes, and many other materials are packaged in
  • Folders, hanging or manila
  • Toilet paper and paper towel rolls
  • Workbooks
  • Hardcover and softcover books
  • Coffee cup sleeves only (not the cup!)

DO NOT INCLUDE: shredded paper, tissue or paper towels, paper coffee cups, waxed paper or any paper with a lot of foil decorations.


We also have separate carts for paper only, found mostly in the academic buildings. Unlike with the Mixed Recycling bins, shredded paper can go in the Paper Only carts. If your building needs a Paper Only cart, please send a request through the Customer Service Center. Please note that these carts should not exceed 3/4 full (paper is heavy!).

Recycle flattened corrugated cardboard. Most often used as shipping boxes, acceptable cardboard may also includes pizza boxes, so long as they are free of food (this means crusts!) and not excessively greasy or cheesy. Corrugated cardboard boxes should be broken down by the user and placed beside or between recycling and landfill bins in common areas on campus.

Books can be recycled separately. If you have a lot of books that need to be recycled, you can submit a request with the Customer Service Center. They will provide you with roll carts similar to the Paper Only carts. Do not fill them more than halfway (books are really heavy!).

E-Waste is defined as any discarded or unwanted electronic devices, working or broken, and their peripheral items. Here are some common examples of e-waste that we are able to recycle with partner RET3: 

  • Monitors (CRT or LCD)
  • Computers (desktop or laptop)
  • Docking stations
  • Floppy drives
  • DVD/CD burners
  • Circuit boards
  • Scanners
  • Printers and cartridges
  • Copiers
  • Mice, keyboards, speakers
  • Cables, wires, cords
  • Digital cameras
  • Cell phones
  • VCRs
  • DVD players
  • VHS tapes, CDs, DVDS, floppy disks

Need to recycle your e-waste? Fill out the pickup request form.

Universal wastes are generally waste that are regulated by the government in their disposal because of their hazardous components. CWRU accepts and responsibly disposes of many forms of universal waste, including batteries and light bulbs.

If you collect batteries in your department, please submit a request for pickup through the Customer Service Center once your container is full. Alkaline batteries (AAs, AAAs, Cs, Ds) should be thrown away in a landfill container. All other batteries, including lithium ion, rechargeable, cadmium nickel, etc., should be saved for recycling.

If you use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your work area or lab, or come across fluorescent light tubes in your workspace, please also submit a request to the Customer Service Center for a pickup. These bulbs contain mercury and should not be placed into a landfill bin for disposal.

With our 1300+ labs on campus, we often come across unusual and harder to recycle items. We are able to help facilitate the recycling of some of these items that are best kept out of a landfill, such as tires, motor oil, or paint. If your lab or department needs to dispose of these types of items, please submit a request through the Customer Service Center, and we'll be in touch.  

Pipette tip boxes cannot go with our Mixed Recycling. However, we do have a process in place to ensure those boxes get recycled. Please place your tip boxes in a designated bin labeled for pipette tip boxes. If your lab needs one of those bins, please contact us to get set up.

Service Alert

Is there an issue with one of our waste & recycling bins or with one of our collection points? Please let us know by submitting a Service Alert, and we will work toward a solution. Thank you!

How and Where Do I Recycle?

How and where you recycle at CWRU depends on your location on campus. Whether you are in an office, a classroom, or your residence hall suite, there is a way to recycle! We can also give you advice on how to recycle if you're a student living off-campus.

Students living on campus are each provided with a small desk-side blue recycling bin. This bin is intended for our mixed recycling stream. Students are expected to empty their own personal recycling bin into community bins for each stream: plastic, metal & glass, paper, or corrugated cardboard. The common area bins will be emptied by custodial staff as needed.

  • All recycling should be free of food and liquids.
  • Paper should be clean and dry.  
  • Cardboard MUST be broken down flat and placed beside or between recycling bins in the hallway for collection, not in paper carts. Pizza boxes can be recycled with cardboard, but only if they are free of food, cheese, and excessive grease.  

Mixed recycling bins are available across campus, often located next to a landfill (trash) bin.

Staff and faculty members should each have a small desk-side blue recycle bin to collect paper, plastic, metal, and glass in their office. Employees are expected to empty their personal recycle bins into the community bins in the hallway or suite.  

  • All recycling should be free of food and liquids.
  • Paper should be clean and dry.  
  • Cardboard MUST be broken down flat and placed beside or between recycling bins in the hallway for collection, not in paper carts. Pizza boxes can be recycled with cardboard, but only if they are free of food, cheese, and excessive grease.

Mixed Recycling bins will be emptied on an as-needed basis. Paper rollcarts are removed and emptied on a weekly schedule. Roll carts may be missing from their location for up to 24 hours while they are being emptied. If you have a Mixed Recycling bin or Paper Only cart that needs to be serviced more often or are missing for a length of time, please contact us!  

Staff and faculty should have a deskside recycling bin in their office to collect recyclable items. Staff and faculty are responsible for emptying personal recycling bins within their offices into the appropriate bins in hallways and suites for paper, plastic, metal, and glass.

Custodians will continue to empty personal garbage cans from offices on a weekly schedule. Corrugated cardboard boxes should be broken down and placed between recycling bins in hallways or suites.

If your office or suite does not have suitable recycling bins, please contact us to request additional bins.

CWRU has a wonderful partnership with a local non-profit called RET3 to recycle our campus e-waste.  

RET3 will come to your office to collect computers, printers, monitors, and all other peripherals. RET3 refurbishes usable computers for other local non-profits and schools, and deconstructs the remaining items for recycling, which funds their mission. RET3 uses BLANCCO, the same program used by the Department of Defense, to wipe clean all hard drives before processing. CWRU [U]Tech also provides a media sanitization protocol to clean your hard drive before recycling.  

Once your office or department is ready for a pickup, submit a request for a pickup. Someone from RET3 will contact you to schedule a mutually agreeable time on a Thursday when RET3 is on campus.  

Recycling e-waste is FREE on campus with the exception of televisions. RET3 will accept televisions for recycling but must charge a nominal fee of $10.00 - $30.00 to cover the cost of handling the hazardous materials responsibly.  

While students are unable to request pickups from RET3 at this time, they can take their small e-waste items (cell phones, headphones, MP3 players, etc.) to collection locations at Wade and Fribley Commons. Students are also able to put any unwanted e-waste items, working or broken, into REScycle boxes at the end of the semester for reuse or recycling.  

Students living off-campus may be able to recycle their household materials curbside through their city’s waste management. Each municipality has individual guidelines for recycling, which can be picked up along with your trash. Please refer to Cuyahoga Recycles and select your city to get the details of your corresponding program. 

If you are living in an apartment, you may have a separate vendor servicing your apartment building. To find out how to recycle at your apartment, ask your building manager.

Faculty and staff working at locations off-campus should contact us for assistance in determining the availability of recycling for their location.

CWRU has over 30 Bigbelly Solar trash compactors with recycling sidecars spread throughout campus. The trash compactors help CWRU save money and resources by compacting waste and enabling bags to be changed less often!

The recycling sidecars allow for outdoor recycling of the same Plastic, Metal & Glass streams that are collected in buildings.

There is not currently any recycling infrastructure on the grounds of CWRU for the collection of paper. Please recycle all paper you have within the buildings of CWRU.

Race to Zero Waste

Each year, CWRU participates in Race to Zero Waste (formerly RecycleMania), an 8-week recycling competition during February and March between colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. This is an opportunity to benchmark how much our university recycles, and how much goes to the landfill. Through the competition, we hope to raise awareness on recycling practices on campus, boost excitement about recycling by engaging the campus community in a friendly rivalry, and reduce the overall climate impact of our university. 

Why Do We Recycle?

By recycling, we are reducing the impact of waste disposal on the climate. When waste is disposed of in a landfill, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas and the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the U.S. from human activities. Emissions from landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States. Keeping items that are able to be recycled out of the landfills reduces unnecessary methane emissions. And of course everything we need and want must be created from the resources available on this planet. Many of these resources are finite and cannot be replenished fast enough, if at all, to keep up with our current demand for goods. By recycling everything you can, you are helping to conserve these resources and ensure that we are making the most of the things that are already in the system.