A-Z Recyclepedia

For an A-Z listing of everything that can be recycled or composted on campus, and how to recycle them, please use the following information as a guide.

For information about recycling items off campus, please consult the BC Recyclepedia .  

Aerosol Cans

If the cans are completely empty, and do not contain any toxic residue, then they can go in the recyclable containers bin (grey bin).

Aluminum Foil

If the foil is dirty (i.e. food residue) then it must go in the garbage. Aluminum pie plates can go in recyclable containers (grey) bin if they are clean.

Appliances, small

 Microwaves, toasters, kettles, etc. can be handled through the e-waste program (see "Electronic Waste" tab below). If the unit is working but no longer needed, consider listing it on Reuse-it! UBC.

Appliances, large

Refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, stoves, etc. are collected by Building Operations for recycling on request. Please place a service request using PeopleSoft Financial Management System (FMS) or contact your Facilities Manager. If the unit is working but no longer needed, consider listing it on Reuse-it! UBC. However, older (i.e., pre-1993 refrigerators and freezers can often be energy-intensive so it may be better to retire them.

Bamboo Fibre Packaging

If a recycling symbol appears anywhere on the packaging, then this can go in the mixed paper (blue) bin.

Battery Recycling

The Battery Recycling Program is a partnership between Risk Management Services and Call2Recycle, created to recycle non-rechargeable batteries, rechargeable batteries and cell phones for free at UBC. There are numerous drop off locations across campus, or you can set up your own box. To spread the word throughout UBC about battery recycling you can sign up to become a Battery Contact in your area or download the battery recycling poster.


If they are made of vinyl or other kinds of plastic, they cannot go in any of the recycling streams and are therefore garbage. However, if they are in decent condition, you can make a post on Reuse-it! UBC. If they are hanging paper file folders with only small metal hooks, they can go in the paper bin as long as it is not a large amount folders (i.e. more than 10 large boxes).

Cartridge Recycling

Ink and toner cartridges are part of BC’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Programs. Return your empty ink and toner cartridges to the place of purchase, or inquire with stores near you. The UBC Bookstore recycles printer ribbons and cartridges; the collection container is in the computer shop department. For easier management of ink and toner cartridges follow these steps:

1. Keep the box of your new cartridge.

2.Put the old cartridge in.

3. Mail back to place of purchase or have your supplier pick up old cartridges when dropping off new ones.

Cell Phone Recycling

Used cell phones can be recycling through Risk Management Services Battery Recycling Program.

Christmas Tree Recycling

Christmas trees can be recycled through the UBC Botanical Garden's Christmas tree recycling program from late December to early January. Drop off your Christmas tree to be chipped into mulch that will be used on UBC Botanical Garden trails. This service is by donation, with donations supporting educational programs in local schools. For more detailed information including dates, hours and locations, visit the UBC Botanical Garden in December.

Coffee Cups

Recycling coffee cups and lids has been notoriously confusing in the past. However, all coffee cups on campus can now be recycled. Place empty cups and lids – with the sleeves removed – into the grey Recyclable Containers bin. Do not put liquids into the bin. Cardboard and paper sleeves can be placed in the blue Paper bin, or into the green Food Scraps bin if a Paper bin is not available. The best option is to bring your own mug. When you do so, you will receive a 15 cent personal mug discount at all UBC Food Services outlets, at AMS food outlets in the Student Union Building (SUB), at Starbucks and at Bean Around the World. Regarding small, individual cups used in coffee machines, such as Keurig cups (k-cups), they are acceptable in the Containers bin if clean and if the plastic or foil wrap on the top is removed. However, compostable equivalents are available! It is best to purchase compostable k-cups, which can then go into the Food Scraps bin.

CDs and DVDs

 If CDs or DVDs do not contain sensitive or private information, CDs/DVDs and their cases can be separated (and the paper inserts can be recycled in the normal paper stream). Then one can put in a service request online through Waste Management for pickup of CDs/DVDs and cases. Old floppy discs can be processed in the same way as CDs/DVDs.

Compostable/Biodegradable Bags

If they are any kind of plastic-like material, these cannot be processed by UBC's composting system and must go in the garbage bin, even if they say they are biodegradable (but of course, please dump their contents into the food scraps bin!). Only compost bags that are made of coated paper/fibre are acceptable in UBC's food scraps bin.

Composting, Organic Waste, and Food Scraps

Food scraps and food-soiled paper such as napkins and compostable paper food packaging can be composted through the green Food Scraps bin at campus-wide recycling stations. These items will then be converted into soil amendment to be used again by UBC gardeners for landscaping right here on campus. Please keep all types of plastics out of the green Food Scraps bins – even plastic labelled “biodegradable” or “compostable”. Plastics are not compatible with UBC's Composting Facility. For any questions or further information on what is compostable on campus visit the Sort it Out page.

Confidential Paper Shredding

UBC Building Operations offers a competitively priced shredding service for confidential documents. To make arrangements for confidential shredding, please contact your Facility Manager or call the Building Operations service center at 604-822-2173. Documents for confidential shredding should be stored in a closed box in a secured location for pick up. Refer to the Confidential Shredding Frequently Asked Questions for further information.


Across campus glass bottles, jars, pop cans, metal cans, plastic containers and bottles, juice boxes and milk cartons can be recycled in the grey Recyclable Containers bin. Empty coffee cups are now also recyclable, with paper sleeves going into the blue Paper bin. For any questions or further information on which containers can be recycled visit the Sort it Out page.

Corrugated Cardboard

Please place all corrugated cardboard in large green "cardboard only" bins. If your department or building does not have one of these large bins, simply place flattened cardboard next to the garbage dumpsters for pick up. TIP: You can recycle your clean pizza box! Simply place clean parts of the box in the cardboard bin, and soiled greasy parts in the garbage. UBC’s composting facility cannot currently process cardboard.

Deskside Recycling

UBC Waste Management operates the Deskside Recycling program that consists of a large blue bin for paper recycling and a miniature black garbage bin as an attachment, which are placed at individual workstation units across campus. Work station occupants are responsible for emptying their deskside bins into larger garbage and blue tote or multi-stream recycling bins, usually located in main hallways. To order Deskside Recycling bins for your office or department, contact UBC Building Operations at 604-822-9619.

Disposable Gloves

These must go in the garbage as they are not accepted in the soft plastics program, (it targets polyethylene items like plastic bags). The only alternative would be to use this off-campus program, but it has a shipping fee.

Eco-To-Go Container Reuse Program

The Eco-To-Go Program helps to reduce waste from disposable food containers. The program is available to anyone who lives, works or eats on campus and is very low cost. Once you buy your first membership card, there is no expiry date or annual renewal. You can exchange your used containers at any UBC Food Services location, as well as Totem and Vanier dining rooms where they will be washed and sanitized. You simply exchange your membership card for a container and vice-versa. Drop the container off dirty when you are finished with it, obtain your card, or get another meal to go. Now you can enjoy your campus food anywhere you go, with less waste.

Electronic Waste

UBC Waste Management collects and responsibly recycles campus electronic waste or e-waste, which includes old, broken or obsolete cell phones, computer towers and monitors, keyboards and computer mice, scanners and printers, projectors, television sets, video cassettes, electronic scientific equipment, etc. Campus community members can drop off their departmental e-waste and personal e-waste at the University Services Building, Room 0150, Monday to Friday, between 7:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Departmental e-waste collection can be arranged through department Facilities Managers. For more detailed information on e-waste, including accepted items and fees, visit the UBC Waste Management website.

Glass Recycling

Glass containers such as pop bottles and jars can be recycled in the grey Recyclable Containers bin at campus-wide recycling stations. Laboratory glass: at present, lab glass cannot be recycled but UBC is looking at recycling options. Lab glass is decontaminated according to approved procedure, accumulated as a sub-solid waste stream in the lab and sent to the landfill for disposal. For further information visit Risk Management Services Green Labs Program.

Hazardous Waste Management

Refer to the Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide from Risk Management Services for the following substances: Asbestos Waste; Biological Waste; Chemical Waste; Non-Regulated Contaminated Solid Waste; Oil Waste; Photographic Waste; Radioactive Waste.

Light Bulb Recycling

UBC Waste Management recycles light bulbs on campus. Please contact your building's Facilities Manager if you have light bulbs to recycle.

Paint Recycling

Please drop off surplus, non-industrial paint at the Environmental Services Facility. It is collected by ESF and sent to Product Care for recycling. For more information on paint recycling, please contact ESF at 604.822.1285 or refer to page 91 in the Pollution Prevention and Hazardous Waste Management Manual.

Paper Products

Paper products can be recycled at campus-wide recycling stations through the Blue "Paper" Bin. UBC Waste Management recycles paper products in large blue tote bins and multi-stream recycling stations. For more information on what items are recyclable on campus visit the Sort it Out page.

Pharmaceutical waste

Pharmaceutical waste is sent for disposal as hazardous waste through Environmental Services Facility (ESF). For more information please contact the Environmental Services Technician at 604-827-5389.

Photo Paper

Unfortunately this paper cannot go in the paper bin, as it is coated with chemicals that cause contamination. Therefore, this item would go in the garbage bin.

Plastic Bags (Soft Plastics)

Plastic bags (a kind of soft plastic) are NOT currently recyclable at UBC’s recycling stations. For departments that generate significant amounts of soft plastics, there are collection points at the loading docks of the following buildings:

  • UBC Bookstore/Michael Smith Labs
  • Life Sciences Centre
  • Chemistry Stores
  • Old SUB (basement, by North entrance)
  • University Services Building (on occasion)

Many retail outlets in the area like London Drugs also have plastic bag recycling programs.

Soft plastics must be clean and packaged in clear bags. If your department wishes to collect soft plastics for collection at one of these locations, please confirm with the appropriate Facilities Manager first. To reduce plastic bag use on campus, please bring your own reusable bag whenever possible. There is also a Soft Plastic Recycling Program aims to reduce the amount of soft plastic waste sent to landfills from UBC labs.

Plastic Containers

Plastic containers of numbers 1-7 (also known as hard plastics) can be recycled in the grey Recyclable Containers bins at recycling stations across campus and in offices. Please place all unmarked plastics in the garbage, these cannot be recycled at UBC at this time. For more information visit the Sort it Out page. The Laboratory Plastic Recycling Program offers a simple solution to recycling in labs. For more information please contact the Environmental Services Technician at 604-827-5389.

Projector Screen

The white fabric should be removed from the metral part, and put into the garbage. The metal pieces can be put into the scrap metal recycling. This scrap metal can be picked up by UBC Waste Management by putting in a service request, either through PeopleSoft or by contacting your Facilities Manager.

Silver Recovery Program

Photographic waste containing greater than 5 ppm of silver is considered hazardous waste and prohibited from entering the sewer system. Silver, if introduced to the water system, is toxic to fish. The Environmental Services Facility developed the Silver Recovery Program to comply with the Metro Vancouver Sewer Use Bylaw. The silver is recovered and reused by a silver refinery, and the corrosive liquid is neutralized before disposal. For further information please contact the Environmental Services Technician at 604-827-5389.

Solvent Recovery Program

The Solvent Recovery Program successfully recovers acetone and methanol, allows UBC faculty and staff to save on purchasing costs, and the university to save on disposal costs. Staff and faculty are encouraged to use this program. For further information please contact the Environmental Services Technician at 604-827-5389. For more information on disposal, refer to the Hazardous Waste Management Manual from Risk Management Services.

Special Event Waste

Event organizers need to plan for recycling and composting bins appropriate to the event type and the type of waste they generated. Refer to the Sort It Out page for information on requesting bins, and how to reduce event waste.


Styrofoam is NOT recyclable at UBC’s recycling stations. Consequently, Styrofoam packaging (such as food trays) should be avoided wherever possible. As Styrofoam is sometimes unavoidable in lab equipment shipping, Risk Management Services has set up a Styrofoam Reduction and Recycling program. To participate in the Styrofoam Recycling Program, simply collect Styrofoam (EPS) boxes and packaging blocks in large clear bags (supplied by the Green Labs Committee). UBC Waste Management will collect full bags from the locations listed on the Styrofoam program web page. Posters are also available for download.


There are various ways to reuse or recycle textbooks before deciding to throw them into the blue Paper bin. UBC Bookstore runs a textbooks buyback program. They also work with Books for Africa, a non-profit organization that ships textbooks to Africa. You can donate unwanted books to this program and the bookstore will ensure that they continue to be of use to students in developing nations. You can also check out the used books classified ads, as well as other local pages like Craigslist Vancouver.


Overhead transparencies (plastic #1) can be recycled in the grey Recyclable Containers bins at recycling stations across campus.