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sustainNU - Office of Sustainability

What You Can Recycle at NU

Blue bins are provided for recycling; please do not use them for garbage. If you need a recycling bin, bin labels, or a dumpster email Julie Cahillane at NU Recycling or call 847-467-1374. For a trashcan, contact your department office.

Did you know we have been composting in every dining hall and major cafeteria since 2012?



Acceptable: Not Acceptable:
Brochures & flyers Food Wrappers
White & colored paper Paper cups & plates
Cardboard Paper towels, napkins, & tissues
Magazines & catalogs Laminated paper & stickers
Junk mail Hardcover books
Newspaper Hanging file folders
Envelopes (colored & windowed)
Paperboard (ex. cereal boxes)
Paperback books
Paper bags

Please flatten all boxes and place in or next to a paper bin.

plastic bottles

Cans/Glass/Plastic Containers

Acceptable Not Acceptable
Aluminum & steel cans Plastic bags (please see proper recycling information below)
Glass bottles & jars #6 plastic (aka polystyrene or Styrofoam)
Plastic containers #1 - #5 (includes bottles & jugs, yogurt cups & tubs, grocery containers, & 6-pack rings) #7 plastic
Aluminum foil & trays

Items contaminated by lab waste

Aseptic packaging (drink boxes, milk, & juice cartons) Ceramics or drinking glasses

Please empty all containers.

Note: To recycle scrap metal, email Julie Cahillane. 

Computer/Electronics (e-waste)

Computers, printers, and anything with a plug can be recycled through University Services’ eCycling program. Lab equipment is included in e-waste collections. Check out the Lab Equipment Disposal Guide for more information.

ink cartridges

Laser & Ink Cartridges


Laser and ink jet cartridges can be sent in a box or envelope via campus mail (attn: Cartridge Recycling) to the following addresses:

Evanston Campus:

Mail Services

2020 Ridge Ave.

EV 4314

Chicago Campus:

Mail Services

300 E. Superior

Note: For questions or cartridge mailing labels, contact NU Recycling at 847-467-1374. Check out the University Services webpage if you have copier cartridges to recycle.

Ink cartridges are collected for recycling in the Kemper and Foster-Walker residence hall mailrooms during the academic year. This effort is brought to you by Eco-Reps.



The Office of Research Safety (ORS) handles all battery waste, including lead-acid (automotive), mercury, lithium containing, ordinary household, and rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries or anything less than 9 volts does not need to be taped. Batteries can be taken to Wendy Ward at the Technological Institute NG-71. ORS offers collection boxes for workspaces that must be picked up and returned to Wendy.

plastic bag

Plastic Bags

Place plastic bags in the bin on the ground floor of Norris, near the elevator during the academic year.

Plastic bags are collected by Eco-Reps in the residence halls, who take them to the Recycling Hub on the ground floor of Norris, to the left of the elevator. The Associated Student Government Sustainability Committee takes these plastic bags to Whole Foods to be recycled during the academic year.

light bulb

Light Bulbs (cfl’s and other fluorescents)


Light bulbs are replaced by custodians and electricians who collect them for proper handling. If you have a spent lamp, please contact Facilities Management.

Place light bulb in a sealed bag and give to Housekeeping staff for proper disposal.

scrap metal recycling

Scrap Metal

All ferrous and non-ferrous metals (steel, stainless steel, aluminum, etc.) are acceptable. This includes unusable bookcases, shelves, bikes, desks, racks. Facilities Management maintains a central scrap metal recycling dumpster to collect these items. If there is a significant quantity, a metal recycling dumpster may be delivered to your location. Items must be safe to dispose -- any coolant or other hazardous materials must be removed before placement in the dumpster. Email NU Recycling or call 847-467-1374.

Construction recycling

Construction & Demolition Materials

Wood, drywall, pallets, concrete, glass, and other demolition type waste can be recycled in designated dumpster loads. Email NU Recycling or call 847-467-1374.

Fridge recycling

Fridge & Coolant

Freon or coolant must be removed from any item before disposal. Contact Facilities Management Customer Service to arrange for coolant removal service via FM HVAC. Fridges can be recycled through scrap metal or electronic waste collections.