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Recycling 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. Academic buildings on the Homewood campus have a hybrid recycling program with separate paper and cardboard recycling collection in blue bins and commingled recycling (metal, plastic and glass) collection in green bins. JHU receives revenue from the paper and cardboard.

Residence halls and dining areas have a single stream recycling program (paper and cardboard can be put in commingled bins) to save space in dorms and to reduce the number of waste streams where little paper is generated.

Dining areas and some event spaces have compost collection in yellow bins for all food, soiled paper products and compostable cups, plates, and utensils. Compost bins can be requested for events. 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 or beverage 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 containers 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 including meat and oil products, coffee grinds, tea bags, compostable food and ALL beverage containers sold in Homewood campus cafes and coffee shops (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)*, film plastics like plastic grocery bags*, potato chip bags, candy wrappers, condiment packets, single brew coffee cups (e.g. Keurig cups), ceramics or non-container glass.

*Polystyrene and film plastics are now accepted for recycling but they must be collected separately in clear bags. They cannot be placed in the standard recycling bins. Film plastics include shopping bags; shrink, bubble, and product wrap; air-filled packing pillows; newspaper and dry cleaning bags; empty and dry bread bags and Ziploc bags; etc. Basically if it stretches we will take it. If it tears like paper it is not acceptable. Polystyrene foam includes only #6 packaging foam and coolers – no loose peanuts or food/beverage foam please. Simply fill out the Recycling Request form for your materials to be picked up. 

Which color bin should I use for each type of material?

The color of a waste receptacle is important because it helps you quickly identify where to dispose of your items.

  • Blue: Paper and cardboard (non-food or beverage related)

  • Green: Plastic containers, metal, glass, etc

  • Yellow: Compostable products (including #7 plastics) only

  • Grey: All other trash

What kinds of containers are used to collect material?

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

Desk Bin

The standard waste stations on campus are taller bins that are color-coded and connected with signs attached to indicate what material goes in each bin. They can be found in corridors and conference rooms. Typical three bin stations include green, blue and gray. Stations in areas with food will have green, yellow and gray. You will sometimes see a standalone blue bin in copy rooms for paper.

Busch bins / slim jims         


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

Brutes are large round bins used for events.

Can I compost at my catered event? 

Yes! They can be requested for your catered event by filling out the Event Support Request Form. There is NO charge for events that are Zero Waste, meaning all the waste generated at the event is either compostable or recyclable. This can be done simply by choosing a JHU Preferred Green Caterer. Caterers on JHU’s Preferred Green Caterer list provide compostable serviceware at no extra charge. You can find this list and more zero waste planning tips in the Homewood Zero Waste Event Planning Guide and the Homewood Zero Waste Events At A Glance Guide . When booking your caterer, please confirm that they will bring only compostable service ware items. We also have a Power Point slide for use in presentations and table tent thank you cards for use at zero-waste events.

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

Yes! Printable signs are available for offices (with composting / without composting), 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 bags are clear, compost bags are green 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 by sight 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, toner cartridges, all electronics and all types of batteries can be dropped off at the Recycling Office at Wyman 3 or a request can be submitted for pick up. Generally, if it has a power button you can recycle it. For large electronics pick ups please select electronics cart delivery in the drop down on the request form. We will bring the cart for you to fill and will pick it back up when you are finished. 

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 and disposed of in designated bins in the hallway. You can request a recycle bin for your lab by filling out the Recycling Request form or use your own bin but it must be clearly labeled “Recycle”.

How do I get rid of unwanted furniture, equipment or supplies?  

The Furniture Reuse Program is designed to reuse and recycle office furniture at JHU. The program was created to help reduce the amount of waste generated by the University and to help save money. Please visit the Furniture Reuse Program page for more information.

How do I handle biohazard material? 

Biohazard material must be disposed of in red bags and placed inside biohazard boxes only. Boxes, bags and tape can be requested using the Recycling Request form. Select biohazard supply delivery and indicate specifically what you need in the notes section.  

  1. All Biohazard boxes must be properly sealed inside each laboratory. Proper closure includes:
    1. Tying closed each red bag placed inside a biohazard box.
    2. Sealing completely all seams on the top and bottom of each box.               
    3. Labeling each box with a marker, lab name, a building name, room number, telephone number       
    4. Ensuring that box is dry and bag is not leaking   
    5. Free of bulging, punctures or open gaps in the box
    6. Dry without any wet spots or stains
  2. Boxes must be under 40 lbs.
  1. Leave sealed boxes at the appropriate location for collection by the custodial staff.
  1. Collection of boxes is NOT conducted during inclement weather, specifically snow or rain so they may be left inside the building until conditions are dry.
  1. If boxes are wet, not taped, have items sticking out, are broken or generally not in good condition they will not be picked up. The lab will be notified to repackage the box before pick up will be completed.

What should I do with office supplies that I no longer need?

Homewood Recycling now collects office supplies to donate to the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. They partner with Baltimore City Schools to provide needed supplies to teachers. Items in demand include binders, desk organizers, art supplies, folders, and notebooks; however, all office supplies in good shape are accepted. You can collect items in boxes and submit a request via the Recycling Request form or if you have a large amount to donate you can request select Toter Delivery in the drop down and indicate in the notes section it is for Office Supply donations.

Can I use the Recycling Request form for campuses other than Homewood?

No. This form is for waste and recycling services on the Homewood campus only. Please contact your campus facilities office for information about waste services on your campus.

Johns Hopkins University
Facilities & Real Estate
3910 Keswick Rd. Suite N3100
Baltimore, MD 21211
443.997.5302 / 443.997.3737