Can I Recycle This?

There are a variety of opportunities to recycle and donate items on and off campus. Princeton is committed to reducing its total waste stream while increasing the percentage of recycling across all categories including "household" items, demolition and construction debris, and food waste. Learn more about the University's progress toward our waste reduction goals.

Recycling Guidelines:

Everywhere on campus you can mix all acceptable recyclables - paper, plastic, metal, etc. - in any recycling bin, even if the label says otherwise; all bins will soon be accurately labeled. Be sure to read the recycling guidelines below and empty out containers (keep caps/lids on) before placing them in the bins. 

Help us make recycling a success on campus by recycling properly and avoiding contamination. Visit our FAQ page on contamination and recycling for more information.


Mixed Paper and Cardboard

  • Office paper and mail (glossy paper, plastic envelope windows, metal staples and clips are okay)
  • Cardboard and paperboard (break down/flatten boxes)
  • Food and beverage cartons
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Posters
  • Paper bags
  • Books (both hard cover and paperback)


  • Plastic containers with recycling codes #1, 2, 4, 5 (empty out containers; lids are okay, but should be attached to the container)


  • Glass bottles and jars (empty out containers; colored glass is okay)


  • Aluminum (e.g. beverage cans) and steel/tin cans and lids (empty out containers)

Not Recyclable

  • Napkins, paper towels, tissues, and other paper kitchen products. With the exception that napkins can be disposed of with food waste in the dining halls and Frist.
  • Paper contaminated with food
  • To-go coffee cups and paper soda cups
  • Plastic beverage pods (K-cups, etc.)
  • Plastic "clam shell" containers with lids
  • #1 and 2 plastic cups
  • Food waste
  • Plastic forks and knives
  • Alkaline batteries - yes, they can be thrown in the trash!
  • Tetra paks
  • Plastic- or wax-coated paper, cardboard and cartons
  • Metal-lined shelf-stable "aseptic" containers (e.g. milk, soup)
  • Plastic wrappers
  • Plastic bags
  • Styrofoam
  • Ceramics - whole or broken coffee cups or plates go in the trash
  • Broken glass - broken windows, light bulb glass, glass dishes/plates/cups go in the trash
  • Aerosol cans (e.g. empty food and household cleaning products)

Other Recycling and Donation Collections on Campus:

Clothing, Furniture, Household Items and More!

  • Free and For Sale – Facebook group for miscellaneous items (for students only)
  • Tiger-Trade – Furniture, books, housing, jobs and more!
  • University Surplus – Donate or find furniture, electronics, binders, folders and more! (open to Princeton faculty/staff/students on Tuesdays, open to everyone on Thursdays - items are free to all University Departments and Recognized Student Agencies and/or Groups)
  • Free Office Supplies Listserv - Receive and send emails offering new or gently used office supplies for free. Open to Princeton community (students/staff/faculty) only!
  • Trenton Rescue Mission - Clothing donations are accepted year-round in a collection box, located in Lot 20 at the far left end, near the fence and Lakeside Apartments.

Electronics and Batteries

  • A Wireless Alliance recycling bin is available on the 100 level of Frist (around the corner from Witherspoon's cafe near the UPS and FedEx boxes) and accepts: all cell phones, smart phones, PDA's, iPods, digital cameras and iPads regardless of age or condition, chargers and accessories, rechargeable batteries, all accessories including cases. Items are donated or recycled in an EPA certified domestic facility. 
  • Rechargeable batteries can be recycled in the Wireless Alliance bin mentioned above. Note: using rechargeable batteries is a greener choice as Alkaline batteries are not recyclable!
  • For certain 9 volt battery types, including alkaline, carbon-zinc and mercury, recycling kits are available from Waste Management Associates. 
  • Ink and toner cartridges: Recycling bins are available in most computer clusters. All University departments can request a toner cartridge recycling container from Office Max.  For more information, please contact Office Max customer service representative, Cynthia Heumann.
  • Properly dispose of broken, outdated and unusable office electronics (computers, laptops, printers, fax machines, office phones, etc.) through the University Surplus Program. For more information, email or call (609) 258-2347. 

Plastic Bags

  • Plastic bags can be recycled at the U-Store in designated containers.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)

Building Services collects used CFL light bulbs. Reach out to the custodial staff within your building to initiate a collection and for more information. Two off-campus options are also available to recycle your used CFL bulbs:

  • Take to the service counter of any Home Depot to be recycled for free
  • Order a kit from Waste Management Associates which allows you to mail your bulbs to a recycling facility


  • There is a very robust food scraps recycling effort on campus. In the dining halls and Frist Campus Center, all food scraps both from the kitchen and plate scrapings are sent to AgriArk, based in Hopewell, NJ. The composting program was featured in the Daily Princetonian
  • Graduate Students have opportunities to compost at their apartment complexes. Contact your residence council or committee for more information about how and where to compost. Students who live off campus in the town of Princeton can participate in the municipal curbside organic program.

Off Campus Recycling Resources:

For more information on recycling at Princeton or to request a recycling bin, contact Building Services at 258-3490 or Facilities Customer Service at 258-8000.