people in hard hats and reflector vests standing behind massive bales of recycled plastic, cardboard, and metal

Captured during a tour of NYU's recycling carter's Material Recovery Faciltiy (MRF) during Zero Waste Week

NYU’s commitment to waste minimization can be traced back to 1990, when NYU first established its recycling program. Since that time, NYU has introduced additional streams for food scraps, textiles, and electronic waste, and strives to reduce needless waste by exploring upstream solutions related to purchasing.   



Mixed Recycling

All paper, glass, plastic and metal items

Items include: Magazines | Newspapers | Paper | Clean cardboard boxes | Food and drink cartons | Clean pizza boxes | Soda cans | Aluminum foil | tin cans | Plastic bottles and containers | Glass bottles and jars

Please include dry materials ONLY.

No wet paper, batteries or electronics, plastic bags or films, window glass, or light bulbs.



All food scraps and compostable materials

Items include: All food including fish, meat, and cheese | Used paper plates and napkins | Pizza boxes and paper take out containers | Compostable cups and utensils | Coffee grounds and filters | Tea bags

Note: If composting bins are not available, please dispose of food waste & food soiled items in Landfill bins.



Electronic items

Items include: Cables | Printers | Scanners | Toner Catridges | Keyboards and Mice | Monitors (LED/LCD/CRT) | Cell phones | Tablets | Laptops | USB drives | Hard drives | Memory/RAM

No loose batteries, light bulbs, hazardous materials, devices containing mercury, or known damaged, swelling, or defective devices.



All items that cannot otherwise we diverted

Items include: Styrofoam | Packing peanuts | Plastic bags and films | Food and liquid (when no compost bin is present)


Waste Composition pie chart: the chart has 3 sections. The landfill section is 68%, the recycling section is 30%, and the compost section is 2%

On average, NYU generates about 350 tons of solid waste and 140 tons of recycling per month. About 60% of NYU’s landfill waste is compostable, while 28% of it is recyclable material. We have the potential to reduce landfill waste to only 7% of our total. Emissions of carbon dioxide and methane emissions associated with the landfilling and incineration of NYU’s municipal solid waste stream currently accounts for 1.9% of NYU’s direct greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste reduction measures across campus include:

  • Food waste composting program in dining facilities coupled with tray-less dining
  • Removal of bottled water from student meal plans
  • Expansion of collection stations for recycling
  • Pairing landfill with recycling bins
  • Identifying source reduction opportunities
  • Educating the NYU community



This video provides an inside look at Action Carting's Optional Sorting System. Action Carting is NYU's waste carter, or who collects and manages NYU's waste.