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Student Recycling FAQs


Does the Homewood Campus have a recycling and composting program?

Yes! Homewood Campus has had a recycling program in place since 2006 and launched a composting program in 2010.

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. The university actually receives revenue for recycling paper and cardboard.

Residence halls and dining areas have a single stream recycling program, which means paper and cardboard can be put in the green bins with metal, plastic and glass. This helps save space in the dorms where little paper is generated. Composting is available in all residence halls for your food, soiled paper products and plastic compostable cups, plates, and utensils. Residence Halls also have collection bins for electronics (we collect basically anything with a battery or a cord) and Terracycle (which includes energy bar wrappers, empty makeup containers, old pens, and used toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes).

Dining areas and most event spaces have compost collection in yellow bins.

The Milton S Eisenhower Library and the Brody Learning Commons are the only locations on campus where you will find compost and paper bins together. This is because so much of both types of material - paper and compostable coffee cups/to-go containers - are generated in the Library complex that we wanted to make sure we captured both!

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 three bin waste stations in the public spaces on campus. This includes all copy paper (white and color), all types of envelopes, 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. Pizza boxes can be placed next to the recycling bin as well but please make sure it is free of food and any wax paper liners (those things can go in the compost 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, clean pie/to-go pans, and foil should be recycled. Glass jars and bottles should be recycled. Rigid plastic including soda bottles, milk jugs, yogurt containers, and soap/detergent bottles. Empty and clean containers should be placed in the green bins (some recycling bins in Housing buildings are blue - doh!). Lids should be placed back on the containers.

What materials should be composted?

ALL food items including meat and oil products, coffee grinds, tea bags, compostable plastic food and beverage containers sold in ALL 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), and compostable utensils should be placed into the yellow bins. Refer to the cheat sheet below and do your best!

Why are the plastic containers and utensils from Homewood Campus dining locations compostable?

The plastics used by Homewood campus cafes and coffee shops are made from corn resin, which is compostable. Corn plastic offers a lot of environmental benefits as it is made from a renewable resource and breaks down easily.

So what is left to go in the incinerate bin?�

Fortunately not a lot should be thrown in the incinerate bin (we call it this because all of our "trash" is incinerated just a few miles from campus); however, there are still some items that we don’t accept for recycling or composting. This includes polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam), film plastics, potato chip bags, candy wrappers, condiment packets, single brew coffee cups (e.g. Keurig cups), ceramics, and non-container glass.

Please note that film plastics like shopping bags, bubble wrap and air pillows used for packaging (like in those many Amazon boxes delivered to your dorm), bread bags, sandwich bags, saran wrap, etc can be recycled in collection bins in residence halls just not in the regular recycling bin. Polystyrene can be recycled at the Homewood Recycling Office if it is dropped off or a recycling request is submitted by a Homewood department only (no student requests accepted).

Where does the waste from the Homewood Campus go?

Once the bags of waste that are collected from the buildings are put outside they are moved to the appropriate dumpster for that type of material then a waste hauler picks takes the dumpster to their processing facility. Use this handy map to find out where each type of waste stream goes and how it is processed.

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

The color of the waste receptacle that you use is important, as having contaminated contents (i.e. recyclable plastic mixed in with compostable food items) can reduce the effectiveness of the program and the quality of the downstream material. Outlined below are the colors of the different types of bins on campus and what goes into each one.

Green: Petroleum based plastics, metal and glass containers, paper, cardboard and paperboard (non-food or beverage related)

Yellow: Compostable products (including #7 plastics) only

Grey: All other trash

*In academic buildings paper and cardboard should be placed in the blue bin.

Why are some of the items recycled on campus different from what I can recycle at home?

Your city may work with a waste management program with different recycling capabilities than the waste management program we contract here on campus. Different recycling facilities accept slightly different products and use slightly different technologies, so small differences are to be expected. Remember what you put in the recycling bin is a raw material for another product. If there isn't a means of sorting that material from the mix of recyclables or if there isn't a market for that material a city or county won't accept it. Recycling is a business and must make a profit to survive! Homewood Recycling contracts with various recycling companies and each are responsible for transporting our materials to facilities in Maryland.

Where do all the items I dispose of end up?

All of the waste generated on campus is transported to the appropriate waste management facility. Below is a list of facilities matched to each waste stream.

Compost – Western Branch Composting Facility, Upper Marlboro, MD
Trash – Wheelabrator Incinerator in Baltimore, MD
Paper and Cardboard – Encore Recycling, Laurel, MD
Commingled (Metal, Plastic & Glass) – Recycle America, Elkridge, MD
Electronics – HiTECH, Oklahoma City, OK (Until the new facility in Baltimore City is�built)�
Terracycle – Terracycle Headquarters, Trenton, NJ

Where can I learn more about waste diversion on campus?

Homewood Recycling is also on Facebook and Instagram. We post lots of helpful recycling tips, fun facts, cool things happening on campus, news, and silly pictures of awesome Hopkins students. We also have a short video on YouTube about where your waste goes after you toss it in a bin. Give it a watch.

Can I compost in residence halls?

YES!!! Compost bins are now available in all of the residence halls. You will find a yellow bin in the trash rooms, shared kitchens and some common/TV rooms and study rooms.

How can I get more involved with Recycling on Campus?

Homewood Recycling does employ a small number of students! If you are interested in working with us, please email Leana Houser.

Also, we have worked with student groups in the past, including Students for Environmental Action, Real Food Hopkins and Take Back the Tap. If you are a student group interested in collaborating with us, please contact Leana Houser.

What kinds of containers are used to collect material?

The standard waste stations in academic buildings on campus are narrow, waist height bins that are color-coded and connected with signs attached to indicate what material goes in each bin. They can be found in corridors, staff kitchens/lounges and conference rooms. Typical three bin stations include green, blue and gray. Stations in areas with food will have green, yellow and gray. The Library and the BLC have 4 bin stations because so much paper AND coffee cups are generated in those spaces. You will sometimes see a standalone blue bin in copy rooms for paper.

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Can I compost at events put on by my student group?

Yes you can! In fact, as of July 1, 2016 if you are hosting a zero waste event - one in which all of the items are reusable, recyclable or compostable Homewood Recycling will supply bins at NO charge. Yes that's right for FREE! To request event support, please fill out the request form at least 48 hours prior to your event. Requests made with less than 48 hours notice might not be guaranteed and will not be free. Also, all events sponsored by Residence Life are zero waste events so be sure to compost your disposables at your next RA Program.

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

Custodians usually have a cart with only one bin so they cannot separate the bags as they collect them for transport outside. However, 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 staff know by sight which bags should be placed in the recycle, compost or trash dumpsters.

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