Oregon State University prides itself on its sustainable practices. Between electric vehicle chargers, bioswales around campus, food sourcing, and recycling, there are a lot of great ways to enjoy a clean, beautiful campus. But sometimes recycling is a little tricky – what is recyclable, anyhow? And then you’re left standing in front of the trash and recycling cans, wondering where what you’re holding actually belongs.
While recycling is not a perfect practice, it’s still important. Here at OSU, we encourage students, instructors, and employees to first: reduce their purchasing and consumption, second: reuse what they already have on hand, and third: recycle appropriate items. Although the infrastructure of recycling needs to be changed, we still highly recommend and encourage it!
So what exactly can be recycled on OSU’s campus? Campus Recycling, a subsidiary of the Materials Management department at OSU, is here to help navigate this for you!
Office paper, junk mail and most greeting cards (with exception of those with glitter, ribbon, or other baubles), magazines, newspapers, books, notebooks, paper bags, packing paper, and paperboard, like cereal boxes, are all recyclable! Make sure you break your paper products down to save on space in the recycling containers and remove anything that is garbage. If there is food residue on your paperboard, then it is not recyclable.
Second, bottles and cans.
All glass bottles and jars are recyclable, along with aluminum and tin cans (like soda or soup). However, not all plastic is recyclable, even if it has a number on it! Plastic bottles and jugs must have a narrow, threaded neck. It’s also super important to clean our glass, metal, and plastic out thoroughly before recycling it, including removing exterior labels.
All flattened, corrugated cardboard can be recycled! Did you bring most of your personal belongings in large moving boxes that are taking up way too much space in your room now? Break them down and take them to the outdoor containers!
As far as the list of items that are not recyclable, you might be surprised.
A lot of food packaging, such as plastic clamshells, cups, and styrofoam are NOT recyclable. A great way to work around this is to bring your own reusable cups or eat in a dining hall! And don’t forget – you can always take packing peanuts to stores that have packing and shipping services for reuse. Plastic grocery bags can be recycled at the store, but an even better option is to bring reusable bags wherever you’re shopping. Napkins, even those that look like paper, and wrappers are garbage.
Questions? Reach out to Campus Recycling or the Sustainability Office, and make sure you’re following us on social media at @osusustainable (Instagram and Twitter) and Facebook. Welcome to the class of 2025 – we’re glad you’re here!