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 .
Clean aluminum foil and aluminum pie plates can go in the Recyclable Containers (grey) bin.
If the foil is dirty (i.e. contains food residue) then it must go in the garbage.
Large appliances such as 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, list it on Reuse-it! UBC.
Note: older (i.e., pre-1993) refrigerators and freezers can often be energy-intensive so it may be better to retire them.
Bamboo Fibre Packaging
Binders and folders made of vinyl or other kinds of plastic cannot go in any of the recycling streams and are therefore garbage. If in decent condition, you can post items on Reuse-it! UBC.
Hanging paper file folders can go in the Paper (blue) bin.
Cartridge (Ink and Toner) 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. Items can be dropped off in the computer shop department.
- Xerox Ink and Toner Recycling Program
- Staples Ink and Toner Recycling Program
For easier management of ink and toner cartridges follow these steps:
- Keep the box of your new cartridge.
- Put the old cartridge in.
- Mail back to place of purchase or have your supplier pick up old cartridges when dropping off new ones.
See also the UBC Sustainable Purchasing Guide- Printing.
Cell Phone Recycling
Christmas Tree Recycling
- Place empty cups and lids – with the sleeves removed – into the Recyclable Containers (grey) bin. Do not put liquids into the bin.
- Cardboard and paper sleeves can be placed in the Paper (blue) bin.
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 coffee cups/pods used in coffee machines, such as Keurig (k-cups):
- Clean cups with foil or plastic lids removed can be placed in the Recyclable Containers (grey) bin
- However, compostable equivalents are available! It is best to purchase compostable k-cups, which can then go into the Food Scraps (green) bin.
CDs and DVDs
Plastic-like “compostable” or “biodegradable” bags CANNOT be processed in UBC’s composting system. Please keep all types of plastics out of the 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 Food Scraps (green) bin at campus-wide recycling stations.
Please keep all types of plastics out of the Food Scraps bins – even plastic labelled “biodegradable” or “compostable”. Plastics are not compatible with UBC's Composting Facility. Learn more here.
Confidential Paper Shredding
Empty coffee cups are now also recyclable in the grey Recyclable Containers bin , with paper sleeves going into the Paper (blue) bin.
For any questions or further information on which containers can be recycled, visit the Sort it Out page.
TIP: You can recycle your clean pizza box! Simply place clean parts of the box in the cardboard recycling bin, and soiled greasy parts in the garbage. UBC’s composting facility cannot currently process cardboard.
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 are not accepted in the soft plastics program and must be disposed of in the garbage.
Alternately, TerraCycle offers an off-campus recycling program for nitrile and latex gloves.
Eco-To-Go Container Reuse Program
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.
Laboratory glass must be decontaminated via approved procedure and sent to the landfill for disposal. Please refer to the Hazardous Waste Disposal Guide for more information. UBC is currently investigating options to recycle decontaminated lab glass.
Hazardous Waste Management
Lab Plastic Recycling
How to recycle lab plastic containers?
The Laboratory Plastic Recycling Program offers a simple solution for recycling lab plastic containers.
- Identify what plastics can be recycled (see the Plastic-Code-Ref-Sheet (PDF) for more detailed information)
- Empty, clean and dry the containers
- Place the plastic containers into a grey Lab Plastic Collection Bin (15″Hx14″Lx10″W)
- Empty full Lab Plastic Collection Bins into larger building-provided UBC “Recyclable Containers” (grey or blue) bins on wheels
Laboratory Hard Plastics accepted for recycling
All plastic containers (e.g. bottles, jars, boxes, trays) that:
- previously contained non-hazardous materials
- are empty, clean and dry
- have plastic code #1,2,3,4,5,6 (rigid PS only), or 7
Laboratory Hard Plastics not accepted for recycling
- Plastic code #6 (extruded polystyrene, i.e. Styrofoam)
- Any plastics that could be perceived as having come from a lab, such as vials, syringes, tubes, pipette and pipette tips, etc.)
- Empty vessels or plastic materials previously containing or contaminated with hazardous materials. Ie. any toxic corrosive, flammable, reactive, radioactive, oxidizer substance, or Biohazard Risk Group 1 or 2 (excluding recombinant DNA)
How to implement plastic recycling in your lab?
We’re looking for volunteers from departmental labs to help us run the Lab Plastic Recycling Program. Registration is simple and the time commitment is minimal. Sign up now to help your lab recycle!
The Plastics Recycling Volunteer will lead:
- Education – Inform your co-workers and create awareness about the program and guidelines.
- Collection – Ensure only accepted plastic is recycled.
- Transferring – Coordinate the transfer of full collection bins to large UBC plastic recycling bins.
Ready to sign up? Please email the Lab Plastic Recycling Program with the following information:
- Contact Name
- UBC Email
- UBC Phone Number
- Building Name
- Full Address of Your Lab
Once your plastic recycling account is ready, you will receive the following:
- A grey plastic recycling collection bin for your lab
- A poster for the program
Still have questions about lab plastic recycling?
Review our FAQ (PDF).
Light Bulb Recycling
Milk Cartons and Containers
Single serve milk or cream containers with peel-off lids are acceptable in the Recyclable Containers (grey) bin if it has number 1-6 on it and the lid is removed.
Paper Take-Out Food Boxes
Note, if containers have a plastic/wax coating on the inside, they must be certified compostable; otherwise they should be placed in the garbage, as they are non-compostable and not recyclable when soiled.
Plastic Bags (Soft Plastics)
Plastic bags (a type 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 select buildings including:
- UBC Bookstore
- Michael Smith Labs
- Life Sciences Centre
- Chemistry Stores
- Nest/Student Life loading bay (North end of Student Life building)
- University Services Building
For participating buildings, building users are responsible to collect soft plastics in a large, clear plastic bag (which can be purchased through Building Operations) and placing that bag in a marked recycling bin at the loading dock where other recycling bins are located.
The soft plastics recycling bin (labelled appropriately) is supplied by Building Operations Waste Management and placed in the building loading dock recycling area, and is emptied at the same time as the other recycling is collected from the loading dock. There is no charge for collection at approved locations, however building staff/users are responsible for purchasing of bags.
Acceptable plastics include:
- Polyethylene bags and film such as grocery bags, bread bags, produce bags
- Bubble wrap
- Pallet wrap and plastic wrap from drink can flats
All bags and soft plastics must be empty, clean and dry. Tip: recyclable soft plastics tend to have some stretch.
Items NOT acceptable include:
- Rigid plastic containers of any kind
- Composite materials, such as plastic coated paper or plastic lined with foil
- #6 Polystyrene or Styrofoam
- #7 plastic including biodegradable and compostable plastic
- Dirty or wet plastic
Tip: Crinkly plastic without any stretch is not generally recyclable.
If your department or building would like to participate in the soft plastic collection program, contact UBC Building Operations for more information.
Many retail outlets such as London Drugs also have plastic bag recycling programs.
Plastic Bags (large, woven bulk bags)
Please place all unmarked plastics in the garbage, these cannot be recycled at UBC at this time.
Silver Recovery Program
As Styrofoam is sometimes unavoidable in equipment shipping, UBC Waste Management provides Styrofoam collection at select locations on campus where generation of Styrofoam waste is significant. For these locations, Styrofoam must be collected by building staff or users in large clear bags which can be purchased through Building Operations, and placed at the loading bay recycling area for collection by UBC Waste Management on scheduled days.
The Styrofoam Recycling program currently includes 29 participating buildings with nine pick up locations throughout UBC Point Grey Campus. If your department or building would like to participate in the Styrofoam collection program, contact UBC Building Operations for more information.
- Rigid Expanded Poly Styrene (EPS) (#6) foam blocks and boxes only – e.g., used to pack computer monitors
- Must be clean and dry with all labels & stickers removed
Materials NOT accepted:
- Food trays
- Foam insulation (e.g., blue or pink foam panels or construction foam)
- Any type of foam packing “peanuts”
- Biodegradable or compostable foam (e.g., corn starch based)
- Dirty foam
- Composite materials – e.g., foam bonded to hard plastic
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