Wondering what goes where? Use the following information as a guide to everything that can be recycled or composted on campus.
For information about recycling items off campus, please consult the BC Recyclepedia. Notice something that needs updating?
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, and stoves 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
Call2Recycle recycles consumer batteries and cell phones collected in Call2Recycle boxes at UBC.
Types of batteries accepted:
- Disposable, non-rechargeable consumer batteries such as AA, AAA, D, 9V including alkaline, lithium primary and carbon-zinc
- Rechargeable batteries of types Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn) and Small Sealed Lead Acid (SSLA/Pb)
- Cell phone batteries
- Cell phones (with or without battery)
What is NOT accepted:
- NO car or motorcycle batteries or other wet-cell batteries
- NO electronics other than cell phones
- NO damaged(e.g. leaking) Lithium-Ion or Lithium batteries
- NO batteries over 5kg
Dropping off your batteries
There are numerous battery drop-off boxes across campus. Follow the instructions on the box to safely drop off your batteries. There may be some battery collection boxes that are not readily accessible to the public. If you are not able to access a box on the list, please email email@example.com let us know.
Collecting and storing batteries at your location
If you don’t have a box very close to you, you may opt to collect and store your batteries safely as described here, and periodically take them to a battery drop-off box. Do not store them for more than 6 months.
For the UBC Vancouver campus, the number of battery collection boxes is limited to ensure that there is enough turnover to avoid batteries being stored for long periods, which can become hazardous. Departments should utilize existing nearby boxes rather than requesting additional boxes.
Managing a Call2Recycle battery box
For those with existing battery collection boxes:
- Battery box contacts must complete Call2Recycle’s mandatory “Collection Site Safety Training” to continue to receive boxes.
- Review the detailed Call2Recycle Battery Recycling Guidelines
- Display the Call2Recycle collection box in a cool, dry, visible location where it can be closely monitored
- Protect battery terminals either by bagging in clear plastic bags, or by taping the terminals (Transport Canada requirement). All lithium, lithium ion, button cell, small sealed lead acid, and alkaline batteries over 12 V must be bagged or taped. Alkaline batteries Ni-MH, Ni-Cd do not require bagging. If in doubt, bag all the batteries.
- Entire cellphonescan be bagged and recycled in the battery boxes
- Do NOT includeelectronic waste or small appliances, as these are not acceptable!
- Do not store batteries for long periods of time and aim to ship off your boxes regularly – every 6-12 months. As of 2018, all new Call2Recycle collection boxes contain a flame retardant linerto increase safety in storage and transportation.
- When your box is full or at least once per year, fold in flaps and place tape around the edges.
- Call Purolator at 1.888.SHIP.123(744.7) to arrange pick up directly from your building.
- Await arrival of your new Call2Recycle box in 3-4 weeks, fulfilled as part of the auto replenishment process.
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.
- Remove foil or plastic lids
- Empty coffee grounds into Food Scraps (green) bin
- Rinse lid and plastic pod and place in Recyclable Containers (grey) bin
Note: 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 bags labelled compostable, degradable or biodegradable 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 compostable, degradable or biodegradable. Plastics are not compatible with UBC's Composting Facility. Learn more here.
Confidential Paper Shredding
Empty coffee cups and lids are now recyclable in the Recyclable Containers (grey) bin. Please remove the paper sleeves an dplace the sleeve in the Paper (blue) bin.
For 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 garbage--They are not accepted in the UBC recycling programs.
Alternatively, TerraCycle offers an off-campus recycling program for nitrile and latex gloves.
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, non-hazardous lab glass.
Hazardous Waste Management
Lab Plastic Recycling
Some plastic containers can be recycled through the Laboratory Plastic Recycling Program.
- 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 Recycling Bin (15″Hx14″Lx10″W)
- Empty full Lab Plastic Recycling Bins into larger building-provided UBC “Recyclable Containers” (grey or blue) bins on wheels
The following are Accepted Laboratory Hard Plastics 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
The fiollowing are 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)
Note: UBC is looking for volunteers from departmental labs to help expand Lab Plastic Recycling. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Questions? 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.
If your department is interested in recycling soft plastics, UBC Building Operations runs a soft plastic collection program and has various collection locations across campus. Visit this website for more information.
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
- Clear plastic is preferred (easier to recycle) but coloured is also accepted
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
- Plastics with other materials attached, such as metal, paper, wood, Styrofoam or other hard plastics. Please remove labels when possible.
Tip: Crinkly plastic without any stretch is not generally recyclable.
Many retail outlets such as London Drugs also have plastic bag recycling programs.
Plastic Bulk Bags (large, woven bulk bags)
Please place all unmarked plastics in the garbage, these cannot be recycled at UBC at this time.
For more information on types of containers accepted, visit the Sort it Out page.
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.
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