NYU is committed to waste minimization through collection services, and upstream solutions through purchasing and IT sustainability, and programs like the Green Events Standard and Green Workplace Certification.
Review this page for information related to waste management at the NYU New York campuses.
CLEAN items only. No food or liquids.
- Magazines, newspapers, catalogs, white and colored paper (lined, copier, computer)
- Mail and envelopes
- Paper bags
- Wrapping paper
- Cardboard (egg cartons, trays, shoe boxes, tubs, file folders, packaging)
- Clean pizza boxes
- Paper cups
- Corrugated boxes
- Metal cans (soda, soup)
- Aluminum foil
- Metal or plastic caps and lids
- Glass bottles and jars
- Plastic bottles and jugs
- Food containers
- Food and drink cartons
- Aseptic packaging (juice boxes, soup cartons)
NO: wet paper, batteries or electronics, other glass (such as broken glass or lightbulbs), plastic bags and plastic films, styrofoam
- All food and liquids*
- Styrofoam and Packing peanuts
- Plastic bags and plastic film
- Non-compostable food-soiled items and liquids
*If there is a compost bin available, please place all food, liquids, and food-soiled paper in the Compost bin.
Compost collection is available in NYU dining halls, the Kimmel Center, and for residents of Washington Square Village and Silver Towers. If you would like to collect food scraps in your apartment or office, you can drop them off at one of the city-wide drop-off sites -- acceptable materials differ from what is listed below.
- Coffee grounds, filters, and tea bags
- Compostable cups and cutlery
- All food
- Food-soiled paper
NO: plastics, styrofoam
If there is no compost bin available, please place all food, liquids, and food-soiled items in the Landfill bin.
Please note NYU IT's guidance around proper reuse and disposal of electronic equipment. E-Waste collection is only available in select locations.
- Toner Cartridges
- Printers and Scanners
- Media Formats: USB Drives, Hard Drives, and Memory (RAM)
- Cell phones and Tablets
NO: batteries, light bulbs, damaged or defective devices, DVDs, CDs, or VHS tapes, medical waste
Request Bin Signage
NYU's recycling team can provide new or additional signage for collection bins. To put in a request for new signage, please complete a Work Request Form.
Please note that E-Waste and Compost bins and signage are only available at select locations.
Please note, this information only pertains to New York City.
Where do NYU’s recyclables go?
NYU’s mixed recycling goes to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in New York City, where materials are sorted and bailed by commodity type (i.e. plastics, metal, paper...etc.). From there, they are sold and shipped to be recycled into new materials. To see the process, check out this video from NYU’s waste carter, Action Carting about their Optical Sorting System.
Why do I need to separate paper from plastics, metals, and glass at home but not at NYU?
NYU’s recycling is mixed because the sorting happens at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF). New York City requires residential buildings to sort recyclable materials at the bin -- that’s why paper materials are separated from plastics, metals, and glass. Most, but not all NYU buildings have mixed recycling. Please refer to the signage to know if the building is on NYU’s or NYC’s recycling system.
Why do recyclables have to be clean?
Significant food residue or moisture on recycled materials can cause mold. This kind of contamination leads items that should be recycled to the landfill. Recyclables don’t have to be dishwasher clean -- a quick rinse should do the trick, and a few drops of liquid left in a bottle are fine.
Can I recycle bottle tops and caps?
Yes. Bottle tops and caps are recyclable and when possible, should be affixed to their bottle when recycled. But don’t sweat the small stuff. Items like caps and scraps are not easy to sort or bail at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and may be sent to landfill.
Why can’t I recycle plastic bags?
Plastic bags can get caught in the sorting mechanism at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF). If you have soft plastic bags and plastic films to dispose of, you can drop them off at local retail stores. Better yet, refuse plastic bags and bring your own reusable bag, especially in New York City and cities throughout the world, where plastic bags are banned or incur a fee.
What should I do with my batteries?
Rechargeable batteries used in electronic devices should not go in the recycling, landfill, or e-waste bins. New York State law states that all rechargeable batteries be returned to a retailer that sells rechargeable batteries (or products containing rechargeable batteries) for recycling. For more information, visit Harmful Products and Special Handling.
If something is biodegradable, is it compostable?
By definition, a biodegradable object “can break down without oxygen and turn into carbon dioxide, water and biomass.” However, manufacturers are not required to disclose the amount of time that this process takes, and will often label their products as biodegradable as a form of greenwashing. A compostable product, on the other hand, must break down in 90 days. NYU’s compost collection can only process BPI Certified Compostable items.