Reducing, reusing and recycling waste is an essential component of an institutional sustainability effort. It is often one of the first ways that new students or guests see the university’s commitments manifested in action. Recycling programs rely on an informed community to participate in waste avoidance and properly managing personal waste, whether they are in one of our dining spaces, an office setting, classroom or residential living space.

WashU offers university-wide single stream recycling (where all recyclable materials are commingled in one bin), and compost collection in many dining spaces across campus. Other strategic initiatives include a campus-wide ban on the sale of bottled water, a reusable to-go box option in select dining areas, straws available upon request, and a surplus re-circulation program for office furniture, supplies, and lab equipment.

Single-stream Recycling

Single-stream recycling makes the process easy, but it is important to follow basic guidelines. At WashU, recycling collection includes: paper, cardboard, plastic containers, aluminum, steel, and glass. All materials should be clean and dry. NO: paper cups, napkins, plastic utensils, or soiled to-go boxes. Learn more about recycling at WashU here.

Understanding Compost

WashU oversees an increasing array of composting initiatives, allowing for food and other items to be reused as fertilizer instead of filling a landfill. Kitchen scraps are composted from all cafeterias (only a few convenience eateries are not participating). Post-consumer composting is available at: Bear’s Den, the Danforth University Center, Hillman Hall, the Law School, Parkside Café, and the Village. Learn more about why composting is a critical initiative.

Waste Sorting FAQ

Explore a detailed breakdown of WashU waste and how to properly dispose of different items found across campus. In addition, you can find some other frequently asked questions about issues surrounding waste at WashU.

Waste Sorting Guide

Sometimes waste sorting can seem confusing. Get the latest guidelines and “brush up” on what goes where through this quick video, or share it with friends and colleagues to increase your impact.

Printable Signage

To display signage with the most current recycling information at your office or living space, download, print and post one from our collection. 

Volunteer

Become a Recycling Genius when you receive training on current recycling guidelines – Geniuses are encouraged to present what they learn to their peers in formal and informal settings. Sign up to attend a training session here. Students can sign up to be a WashU Green Ambassador (WUGA) to help first year students acclimate to sustainability at WashU or volunteer to help at a green event waste station or divert waste at student move-in. 

Residential Hall Compost Program

Began as a student-initiated pilot program in 2018, students living on the South 40 are now able to request a compost bin for their room or suite. Students must manage their own bin, including training their roommates to use it properly and emptying it weekly (or more) in the nearest trash room. Learn more and sign up for your own tote here.

Hard-to-Recycle Materials

Environmental Health & Safety collects items not covered within our single stream system (electronic equipment, appliances, batteries and light bulbs) and redirects them to responsible vendors to process. This collection keeps hazardous substances and valuable recoverable materials out of the landfill. Learn more here.

Surplus Recirculation and Donation

Moving offices and unsure what to do with what is left behind? Looking for something that you would rather not buy? Try out Rheaply, an application designed to connect people across the university who have things or need things to avoid unnecessary purchases and better utilization of university funds.