How to Sort on Campus

There are 2 recycling rules:

  1. Keep it Clean (a quick rinse will do)
  2. Sort (Make sure it's Glass, Metal, Paper, Plastic or Cartons)

Here's a quick look at what is included in those 5 categories on campus.

Cartons are any material that consists of multiple layers, like the plastic, foil and paper of a juice box.
Examples: milk/juice cartons, juice boxes, and ice cream tubs.
But NOT disposable cups, such as coffee cups.

Glass includes bottles and jars of all colours (clear, green, blue, brown, you name it).
But NOT broken glass, window glass, lab glass, or dishware.

Metal includes all aluminum and steel packaging.
Examples: pop cans, aluminum foil, tuna tins, bean cans.
But NOT chairs, piping, shopping carts, shelves or other large, primarily metal objects. These go in the red scrap metal bins.

Paper includes writing paper, newspaper etc. including glossy magazines, flyers, and wrapping paper (non-foil).  It also includes cardboard and boxboard.  Some examples are, clean pizza boxes, tubes, egg cartons, cereal boxes, bristol board and file folders.
This does NOT include disposable cups, napkins/paper towels, dirty paper plates, muffin wrappers, waxed paper, photo paper or tissues.

Finally, Plastic. Includes bottles, jugs, margarine tubs, and other food containers. Plastic is coded according to resin, and if you can find 1-PET, 2-HDPE, 3-V 4-LDPE, 5-PP, 6-PS, 7-other on your container, it is good to go in the recycling bin.
But Not styrofoam, shrink wrap, wrappers, bubble-wrap, or bags (even if numbered).

Plastic #1 - polyethylene terephthalate,  #2 - high-density polyethylene, #3 - polyvinyl chloride,  #4 - low-density polyethylene, #5 - polypropylene, #6 - polystyrene, #7 - other

All our recycling goes to the City of Guelph Waste Resource Innovation Centre.  If there is still a particular item that's puzzling you, look it up in the detailed sorting list or check out the city's Waste Wizard app.

Have you got lots of Paper?

Campus community members with large quantities of paper (e.g., office clean-out or end-of-year clean-outs) can request large 2-wheeled carts for their convenience. The order can be placed through the Physical Resources service extension, 53854.
Bins are typically delivered or picked up on Wednesdays.

Please note, hard cover books, binders and plastic covers can not be placed in these bins
If you have lots of hardcover books please contact the recycling co-ordinator and we will co-ordinate a different collection method for you.

Please keep these bins out of hallways.  They can seriously restrict people's movement in the event of an emergency.

A picture of a blue two Wheeled recycling cart.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous items cannot be put in the garbage or recycling. Environmental Health and Safety co-ordinates the pick up of hazardous waste including lightbulbs and batteries for on-campus departments. Requests can me made via the Chemical/Sharps Waste Disposal Request form and a yellow hazardous waste tag. For more information, please contact EHS at ext. 53282, or check out the EHS Website.

Student Lightbulb and Battery Collection

Students can drop off their dead batteries and fluorescent lightbulbs at residence desks, the CSA office (2nd floor UC) or the Sustainability Office. Some batteries collected through this program will be recycled, and others will be sent for proper disposal. Since batteries and the mercury in fluorescent bulbs are hazardous, it’s essential that they be disposed of properly.

Metal and Wood

Wood and large pieces of metal cannot go in our regular blue recycling dumpsters.  If you have large wood or metal items email to arrange for your item(s) to be picked up.

Recycling Poster

Recycling poster

Garbage Poster

Garbage Poster

Detailed Sorting List





  • blueprints
  • bond stock (all colours)
  • books (covers removed)
  • bound reports (glued, or with spiral removed)
  • soft cover journals
  • notebooks (hard covers removed)
  • bristol board
  • matte board
  • envelopes (even with plastic windows)
  • brown paper bags
  • cardboard boxes (not waxed)
  • cardboard packaging
  • cereal and tissue boxes
  • courier boxboard envelopes
  • cigarette boxes (no plastic, no foil)
  • egg cartons and flats
  • toilet-paper tubes
  • paper towel tubes
  • white paper
  • lined paper
  • coloured paper
  • construction paper
  • drafting paper
  • tracing paper
  • wrapping paper (non-foil)
  • kraft paper
  • magazines
  • newspaper
  • file folders
  • flyers
  • index cards
  • post-it / sticky notes
  • posters
  • calendars


  • beverage bottles
  • food and beverage jars


  • pop cans
  • pie plates
  • clean aluminum foil
  • food and beverage cans, tins and lids
  • empty paint cans


  • gable top milk cartons
  • gable top juice cartons
  • ice cream tubs
  • tetra-pak drink boxes
  • aseptic packaging
  • juice boxes


  • bottles
  • coffee cup lids
  • jugs
  • food and beverage containers
  • plant pots and trays (CLEAN only)
  • tubs and lids (margarine, yogurt, sour cream etc.)
  • yogurt cups (foil or plastic lid removed)


  • cereal
  • bread
  • flour
  • oatmeal
  • rice

Fruits and Vegetables

  • all peels
  • melon rinds
  • corn cobs (broken up)
  • rotten fruits and veggies
  • seeds and cores
  • citrus fruit - crushed or chopped

Yard Waste

  • grasses (non-chemically treated)
  • leaves
  • pine needles
  • potting soil and dead plants


  • all-natural fibres (e.g. cotton)
  • clean wood ash (small quantities)
  • coffee grounds and filters
  • dead insects
  • egg shells (crushed)
  • nut shells
  • napkins
  • Kleenex
  • nut shells
  • paper towels
  • tea bags
  • paper plates (shredded)
  • wood shavings
  • newspaper


    • butcher paper
    • carbon paper
    • excessively taped paper
    • metallized paper
    • paper cups and coffee cups
    • padded envelopes
    • stickers and labels
    • sticker and label backings
    • waxed paper and waxed cardboard


    • creamers and condiment packaging
    • disposable gloves (non-biohazardous)
    • microcentrifuge tubes
    • Mylar and Parafilm
    • pipette tips and covers
    • Plastic Bags! Even the "compostable ones"
    • plastic sample dishes
    • plastic syringes (NO NEEDLES)
    • plastic wraps / shrink wrap
    • bubble wrap
    • plastic plates
    • plasticized or laminated paper
    • candy and snack wrappers
    • Styrofoam
    • packing peanuts
    • reagent bottles and solvent containers (empty)

    Meat Products

    • meat, fish, bones

    Dairy Products

    • butter, cheese, milk, yogurt

    Grease, Fat and Oil

    • vegetable oils
    • shortening, lard, bacon grease
    • peanut butter

    Treated Wood Products

    • painted wood
    • pressure treated lumber
    • particle board
    • plywood


    • drapes
    • unusable clothing and lab coats
    • upholstery
    • J-cloths
    • Kimwipes
    • feed bags


    • "biodegradable" food containers
    • diseased plants
    • sanitary pads and tampons
    • condoms
    • diapers
    • recyclable items covered in food waste
    • pens and pencils
    • artwork
    • bandages
    • binders
    • broken ceramics
    • foamcore
    • gum
    • tape
    • vacuum bags

    Hazardous, Sharps and Other Waste (Call Environmental Health and Safety for details)


    • aerosol cans
    • batteries
    • automotive products
    • cleaning agents/solvents
    • lighters
    • nail polish
    • nail polish remover
    • paint
    • paint thinners
    • thermometers
    • turpentine


    • blades
    • broken slides
    • lab glass capable of puncturing or cutting
    • needles
    • slide covers
    • slides
    • stylets
    • syringes with needles

    All sharps must be placed in the rigid
    plastic containers provided.
    Never dispose of needles in the garbage.


    • appliances
    • computers
    • electronics
    • furniture
    • non-infectious broken lab glass
      (place only in designated containers)
    • oversized or bulky items
    • propane cylinders (empty)