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Recycling and Composting FAQs


Does the Homewood Campus have a recycling and composting program?

YES! The Homewood Campus has had a strong recycling program in place since 2006 and in 2010 launched a composting program. The recycling program is dual stream, which means we separate paper into one bin (stream) and metal, plastic and glass into another bin. Organic materials are collected and transported to an offsite facility where they biodegrade into nutrient rich compost.

What kind of paper should I recycle and how?

All non food related paper should be recycled in the blue bins found on campus, either the small desk side bins or the tall “slim jims” in the public spaces on campus. This includes all copy paper (white and color), envelopes (window and overnight mailing styles are acceptable, file folders, magazines, newspapers, hard bound books, brown paper bags, post-it notes, cardboard, and paper board (cereal boxes), etc. Staples and paper clips do not need to be removed. Large cardboard boxes should be flattened with packaging materials removed and placed next to the recycling bin.

What kind of metal, plastic and glass should I recycle and how?

Metal such as aluminum and tin food and beverage containers including soda cans, soup cans, pie/to-go plates and foil should be recycled. Glass jars and bottles should be recycled. Rigid plastic with a #1-6 including soda bottles, milk jugs, yogurt containers, deli containers, disposable beverage cups and soap bottles. Empty and clean containers should be placed into the green "slim jims".

What materials should be composted?

ALL food items inlcuding meat and oil products, coffee grinds, tea bags, compostable food and beverage containers (identifiable by a #7, PLA, "Eco" product, or corn symbol), food related paper products (disposable cups, plates, napkins, to-go containers), compostable utensils (off white and marked compostable), and pizza boxes should be placed into the yellow "slim jims" or designated compost receptacles in the dining facilities.

So what is left to go in the trash can?

Fortunately not a lot should be thrown in the trash; however, there are still some items that we do not accept for recycling or composting. They include polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam), plastic grocery bags, potato chip bags, candy wrappers, condiment packets, single brew coffee cups (e.g. Keurig cups), ceramics or non-container glass.

Can I compost at my catered event?

YES! Compost bins are currently not standard in event spaces but can be requested for your catered event by filling out the Event Support form. Having an event with both compostable and non-compostable items tends to result in high levels of contamination so it is recommended that compost bins be requested if the caterer is providing only compostable serviceware. Caterers on JHU’s preferred green caterer list provide compostable serviceware at no extra charge. For more green event resources like signs and planning tips check out the Green Event Planning Guide.

Are there signs I can print to hang up in my workspace?

YES! Printable signs are available for offices, labs and residence halls.

How do I get a recycling bin for my workspace?

Simply fill out the Recycling Request form.

How do I get bulk recycling picked up from my office?

Simply fill out the Recycling Request form.

Why do the custodians mix the bags of recycling and trash in the same cart?

 You will notice that the recycle and compost bags are clear and the trash bags are black so even though the custodians some times combine them into one cart they are separated at the loading dock. When the Recycling Office collects the bags from the loading dock they know which bags should be placed in the recycle, compost or trash dumpsters.

What electronic waste should I recycle and how?

All computers and computer related equipment including monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, cell phones, cords, external drives, ink cartridges, toner cartridges and all types of batteries (including alkaline, computer, phone, rechargeable, NiMH, NiCd, lithium, and mercury) can be dropped off at the Recycling Office (Wyman Park Building 3) or picked up upon request. Please note that we cannot accept televisions for recycling.

Can I recycle items from my lab?

YES! A limited number of items are accepted for recycling from laboratory environments if they have not been exposed to biological, chemical or radiological contamination. They include all types of office paper, pipette tip racks and boxes (not tips!!), and plastic bottles which previously contained buffers or other solutions that did not include biological materials such as serum, growth factors, media supplements, etc. Labels of such bottles must be defaced or removed. Items from BSL III labs are NOT acceptable. Materials from labs must be collected within the lab in a clearly labeled bin and disposed of in designated bins in the hallway.

Can I recycle batteries and/or waste fluids from vehicles?

YES! Waste motor oil, antifreeze and lead-acid batteries can be dropped off at the Homewood Campus Auto Shop (3155 Remington Avenue) to be recycled.


Types of Receptacles

The color of a waste receptable is important, as having contaminated contents (i.e. recyclable plastic mixed in with compostable food items) can often make the entire can ineligible for any sort of recycling.

Paper only
Plastics (#1-6), metal, glass, etc
Compostable products (including #7 plastics) only
All other trash

Bins are the standard knee-height containers at most workstations. These are typically black for trash, and blue for paper collection.

Desk Bin

Slim Jims are taller (3') bins found in areas such as copy rooms, kitchens and break rooms - central areas for a department that collect more waste than the average workstation. Slim Jims can be blue, green or gray. (There are some older bins that have a green or yellow lid on a blue Slim Jim bin. If you happen to have one of those, please go by the color of the lid.)

Slim Jim bin

Toters are large, wheeled containers used  mostly for events or other areas that collect a large volume of waste.  


There are two other types of containers that do not follow the color codes above, but are available. Some of the black/brown metal trash cans around campus have been marked with a special lid over the can to designate them as recycling bins.

The Athletic Center and stadium also has a few 'Big Bottles' around, which are exactly what they sound like. These should be used for cans and bottles only.