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Waste Guidelines

The U is currently working to increase efficiency of recycling and waste collection on campus. Below are a few resources to guide you during normal operations and move-out:


The following items can be recycled in the paper bin:

  • Newspapers and advertising inserts
  • Magazine, catalogs, phone books and paper backs
  • Unbleached papers or recycled paper products
  • Envelopes/Mail: with or without windows
  • White papers: copy, fax, typing bond
  • Colored papers, carbonless papers
  • Egg cartons (non Styrofoam)
  • Index cards: white or colored
  • Manila envelopes or folders
  • Paperboard or non-corrugated cardboard (commonly used for packaging)
  • Shredded paper (bagged)

Paper items that cannot be recycled include:

  • Used paper plates
  • Used napkins or paper towels
  • Material used to wrap paper reams
  • Waxed or soiled food wrappers
  • Aseptic cartons/Tetra Pak (milk/juice cartons)
  • Soiled paper bags or newspaper

Note: Paper recycling should be free of bindings (wire, plastic comb, or spiral).


The University collects plastics 1 (PETE) and 2 (HDPE). These numbers are typically located on the bottom of the plastic item. All plastics should be empty and rinsed.

Common 1 (PETE) and 2 (HDPE) plastics include:

  • Beverage or condiment bottles
  • Milk or juice jugs
  • Shampoo and Conditioner bottles
  • Household cleaning and detergent containers

The U does not have the capability to recycle plastics 3 – 7 (such as yogurt containers and plastic drink cups) at this time. We encourage staff, faculty, and students to take these plastic items home to be recycled.

Plastic items that are not recyclable include:

  • Plastic grocery bags (can be recycled at some stores)
  • Plastic straws and cutlery
  • Biodegradable or compostable plastics
  • Plastic food wrap/cling wrap

To find out what type of plastic you have, look on the bottom of the item for the recycling triangle. If there is no number, it is most likely a 7.


Corrugated cardboard is a type of cardboard with a layer of fiber that zigzags between the brown sheets. Paperboard used for most food packaging boxes should be recycled with other paper.

Common cardboard items that can be recycled include:

  • Shipping boxes
  • Office paper boxes

Cardboard materials must be free of food waste. Please break these down before placing in bin.

Wax treated cardboard such as milk cartons or cardboards that hold liquid are not accepted.


The U widely collects aluminum in bins around campus. Acceptable aluminum items include:

  • Empty Drink cans
  • Aluminum foil (free of food remnants)

Tin cans can be put in the “cans” bins if they are completely rinsed out. If you have any other type of metals please contact the Waste Management office.


Compost: The U is currently looking to expand composting availability in the future. Currently, we offer grounds clipping, recycling, and food composting on campus.

Glass: Not every recycling station will have a glass bin, but there should be one in every building. If you cannot find the bin, just ask a custodian and they can point you in the right direction. The nearest bins for public glass recycling are located in the south end of the parking lot of the Salt Lake City Sports Complex, and on upper campus east of the Shoreline Ridge dormitories. See locations here.

Electronics: Faculty and staff electronics should be surrendered to the Surplus and Salvage department here. Other working electronics can be donated to the U’s What Goes Around Comes Around program operated through the Sustainability Office at this link.

Batteries: Lead acid, lithium ion, lithium metal and NiCad/NiMH batteries should be recycled through EHS using the SAM System

Lights, lamps, and bulbs: Compact fluorescent bulbs, straight fluorescent tubes, UV bulbs, U-tubes, miscellaneous bulbs, and HID, sodium, Hg Vapor and metal halide bulbs should be recycled through EHS using the SAM System

Visit Know Where to Throw and type your item name into the search bar specific instructions.

Know Where to Throw

  • Students should dispose of items according to the U’s general waste guidelines or visit the Know Where to Throw search page for a specific item to ensure proper disposal.

    Both year-round and during move-out, students can donate gently used items (linens, bathroom and kitchen supplies, clothing to the Basic Needs Collective or What Goes Around Comes Around.

    Unopened food stuff and unused hygiene items can also be donated to the Feed U Pantry.

    Nonfunctional electronics can be disposed of during earth week through the Sustainability Office’s all-day event.
    Check the calendar here.

    Visit  Waste Guidelines for general guidance regarding recycling on campus.

  • What materials can be recycled in your dorm? Please help us by only putting the correct items in your blue container. Further information regarding Household Hazardous Waste Use and Disposal can be found here.
    • Please do not put plastic bags, films, or wraps of any kind in the blue container.
    • Do not enclose recyclables in plastic bags or kitchen bin liners (i.e. do not “bag your recyclables.”) This will prevent your items from being recycled.


      • Newspaper and newspaper inserts
      • Cardboard boxes, shoe boxes, cereal boxes, paper tubes
      • Magazines and phone books
      • Aluminum cans
      • Steel (tin) food cans
      • Plastic containers (like milk jugs, plastic bottles, plastic cups, yogurt containers, etc)
      • Junk mail, office paper, envelopes
      • Aerosol cans – please make sure they are drained by turning them upside down and releasing the pressure.


      • Glass (Sign up for curbside glass recycling or take yours to a community drop-off location.)
      • Food, food residue, or food wrappings – empty all food and food residue from containers
      • Napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates
      • Aseptic cartons (these are shelf-stable cartons. Some are known as “TetraPaks”)
      • Clothing
      • Electronics, computers, small appliances
      • Yard waste
      • Toys, garden hoses, plastic swimming pools
      • Plastic bags
      • Expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) – including take-out containers and block foam.
      • Shredded paper
  • The Green Office program allows offices and departments to engage employees in the University of Utah's sustainability mission by evaluating and changing everyday office practices, such as energy used, supplies purchased, and trainings offered. You can find more details here!

  • Facilities Moving Services can accommodate your moving needs, including: furniture, boxes, lab equipment, machinery, displays, etc.

    You can find the request form here. Please include the following information in your request:

    • From/To location(s) information
    • On-site contact information, if other than requestor
    • Office or lab hours where move locations will take place
    • Attach images for large lab equipment or machinery moves. If equipment is large or cumbersome, please include dimensions, weights, quantities, etc. in the description or special instruction fields. Attachments may be added when submitting a request.

    The University Surplus and Salvage Department (Surplus) is also part of the sustainability efforts on campus. Surplus gathers and processes metals, electronic waste, and other end-of-life property and sends it to downstream markets per University of Utah recycling and disposal requirements. Surplus receives and sells University of Utah surplus property from Building 627. Vehicles, high-value office or lab equipment can be sold through online auction or bid.

    Items accepted by Surplus and Salvage:

    • Furniture
    • Electronics
    • Office supplies
    • Wall art
    • Books in good condition
    • Non-Hazardous Lab Equipment
    • Reusable Lab Glass (Clean/sanitized)
      • Note that a retirement/transfer form must be filled out before sending anything to
        Surplus and Salvage, see form
  • Environmental Health & Safety's (EHS) hazardous waste facility serves over 2,000 academic and non-academic labs, facilities, and hospitals in hazardous waste collection and proper disposal. All materials and items requiring disposal must be submitted for pick up on the SAM System and meet labeling and storage requirements before being collected by EHS Waste Technicians.

    All labs should use SAM to keep a current chemical inventory, maintain proper records, and request pickup and disposal of any hazardous waste or unwanted material.

    See below for the following hazardous waste guidelines:

  • The University of Utah’s Hazardous Waste Facility serves over 2,000 academic and non-academic labs, facilities, and hospitals in hazardous waste collection and proper disposal. All materials and items needed for disposal must be submitted for pick up on the SAM System and meet labeling and storage requirements before being collected by EHS Waste Technicians.

    The SAM System is required for all labs to keep a current chemical inventory, proper record keeping, and to request pickup and disposal of any hazardous waste or unwanted material. All University faculty and staff who work with any type of hazardous material are encouraged to create a SAM System User Profile.


    • Red or Grey Biological Waste Bins with Red Bio Bags
      • Must contain a biohazard symbol and “MDS” sticker
        • Biologically contaminated pads, gloves, wipes, Petri dishes, plastic pipette tips
    • Red Sharps Container
      • Must be red in color and contain a biohazard symbol
        • Needles, glass pipette tips or pipettors, whole or broken biologically contaminated empty glass containers, slides, razor blades

    For Buffers and Neutral Solutions, Consult EHS for Specific Drain Disposal Guidelines:

    • If biologically contaminated, add bleach to disinfect then pour it down the drain. Solutions without biological contamination can be directly poured into the drain.
    • For disinfected, empty plastic bottles and whole glass bottles, dispose of in regular trash. For disinfected, empty broken glass bottles, dispose of in broken glass box.

    CHEMO WASTE - HOSPITALS ONLY (Falls Under Biological Category)

    • Red or Grey Biological Waste Bins with Yellow Chemo Bags
      • Must contain a biohazard symbol and “MDS” sticker
        • Pads, gloves, wipes, gowns, hair nets, or any materials contaminated with or used for chemo treatment
    • Yellow Sharps Container
      • Must be yellow in color and contain a biohazard symbol
        • Needles, glass, or broken glass contaminated with or used for chemo treatment

    CHEMO WASTE - HOSPITALS ONLY (Falls Under Chemical Category)

    • Black RCRA Boxes, supplied by Hospital EVS
      • Black in color, have a “6.1 Toxic” Hazard Diamond, and accumulation start date filled in
        • Discarded medications typically used for chemo treatment, partially used syringes, vials, and IV bags
      • Black RCRA Boxes can be used to dispose of Silver Nitrate sticks and Arsenic Trioxide (Trisenox) waste as long as the container provides clear indication and labeling of these specific chemical contents and ONLY contains Silver Nitrate or Arsenic, waste cannot be mixed with anything else


    • Any laboratory chemical, hazardous or non-hazardous, containing 3% or more of total volume
      • Includes household cleaners, paint, cylinders containing gaseous mixtures without University barcode, propane tanks, fuel, hydraulic fluid, oily rags, ballasts, asbestos, anesthesia and carbon filters, and alcohol-containing wipes
      • Empty chemical containers listed on EPA P-List for acutely hazardous chemicals (link provided below)
      • Biological fluids, for ex. blood, mixed with any hazardous chemical
      • HOSPITAL ONLY: includes non-regulated IV bags, dextrose, non-DEA regulated expired drugs

    Does not include

    • Empty chemical containers containing 3% or less of total volume. These can be rinsed with water, left to vent overnight with lid off in chemical hood, labels defaced, and thrown away without lid attached in regular trash or broken glass box if glass container is broken or damaged.
    • Liquid waste that is ONLY biological in nature and is not mixed with any fixatives or chemicals can be disposed of by adding bleach equal to 10% of the total waste volume then pouring it down the drain.

    Frequently asked questions related to Medical Waste can be found here.

  • EHS handles universal waste (as defined by USEPA) disposal on campus. Below are some examples of miscellaneous hazardous waste:

    • Rechargeable batteries: lead acid, lithium-ion, lithium metal, NiCad/NiMH
    • Lights, lamps, and bulbs: compact fluorescent bulbs, straight fluorescent tubes, UV bulbs, U-tubes, miscellaneous bulbs, and HID, sodium, Hg Vapor, metal halide bulbs
    • Aerosol cans
    • Antifreeze
    • Lead aprons
    • Mercury-containing articles (non-bulbs): Mercury thermometers, barometers

    Additional information regarding disposal of household hazardous waste such as paints, cleaners, motor oils, cooking oils, batteries, and pesticides can be found here. Information regarding receiving and shipping Hazardous Material can be found here.

For further information on hazardous waste disposal visit the EHS Resources Page here.
Contact Joshua James with any questions at