Minimizing Waste Across Campus

One of Ohio State's most ambitious goals is to achieve zero waste by 2025 by diverting 90% of waste away from landfills. Campus diversion rate performance will be significantly impacted by educating students, faculty and staff and providing ample opportunities to recycle, prevent and minimize waste.

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Top 10 Things You Should Know About
Recycling at Ohio State


Food scraps can contaminate recyclable materials. Rinse or scrape food remnants off recyclable items before placing them in recycling bins. 

Plastic bags

Plastic bags get caught in the recycling facility sorting equipment, causing expensive time delays and fixes. Recycle plastic bags at your local grocery store.

Symbols and numbers

The recycling symbol and number printed on plastics indicates what type of plastic the item is made of but does not guarantee the item can be recycled. Ohio State does not recycle plastics #3–#7, unless the plastic is bottle-shaped.


Compostable products

Compostable products should not be put into the recycling bins. If composting bins unavailable, the compostable waste should go into the trash. 


All plastics in a bottle-shape (having a narrower mouth than body) can be recycled. Most non-bottle-shaped plastics, including plastic plates, cups, utensils, and straws are not recyclable. 

Napkins, paper towels, tissues

Napkins, paper towels, tissues, etc., cannot be recycled. Often, these items can be composted, but if compost bins are unavailable, please discard them into the trash.


Recycling everyday products

If an item is not listed or pictured on the recycling bins, it is unlikely that the item can be recycled at Ohio State. If you have questions contact us or e-mail


Egg cartons, meat trays, to-go containers, cups or any Styrofoam previously in contact with food must go into the trash. Packaging Styrofoam is not recyclable.


Location, location, location

What can be recycled varies widely from place to place. Just because something can be recycled in one location does not necessarily mean it can be recycled at Ohio State, so be sure to follow the recycling guidelines at your location.

Paper coffee cups

Most paper coffee cups contain a coating for insulation and waterproofing, which makes them difficult to be recycled. Please dispose of your cup in the trash. (Cardboard sleeves can be removed and placed into the recycling bins.)

Why Recycle?

There are many important reasons to minimize, reduce, and recycle materials at Ohio State.

  • Recycling conserves scarce natural resources such as oil, water, minerals, and trees.  
  • Recycling helps reduce water and air pollution. 
  • Recycling conserves energy as it takes less energy to make new products from recycled materials compared to using virgin materials.
  • Recycling reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the amount of trash dumped in landfills and the amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere.
  • Recycling is an easy and efficient way to participate in the university's sustainability initiatives.

How can I recycle at Ohio State?

Recycling at Ohio State is single stream (also referred to as co-mingled), meaning all recyclables are placed in the same bin instead of being separated. However, trash still needs to be placed in a different container. Many side-by-side trash and recycling containers have been placed around campus in common areas and classrooms.

Order Recycling Containers