Frequently Asked Questions
If your questions are not answered here or on the main recycling page, please direct any additional questions to sustainability@UCLA.edu
What can be recycled in UCLA’s Mixed Recyclable Bins (blue lids outdoors, blue bins indoors)?
Almost everything can be recycled! In general, as long as the item does not have food on it, it should be recycled. This includes paper, plastic, metal, glass, and foam. See “What goes in the Blue Bin” Recycling for more information.
Examples of accepted material:
Cans & Foil
- Aluminum beverage cans and aluminum food cans (e.g. cat food cans)
- Steel/tin food and beverage cans
- Clean aluminum foil and foil food trays
- All glass bottles and jars (mayonnaise, apple juice bottles, wine bottles, etc.)
- CA redemption bottles (beer, juice, wine coolers, etc.)
- Plastics Numbered 1-7
- Water/Juice/Soda bottles
- Food Containers
- Milk and water jugs
- Detergent/cleaning product bottles
- Personal care bottles
- Plastic Shopping Bags
- Newspaper (including inserts)
- Office paper (white and colored)
- Computer paper
- Corrugated cardboard
- Cardboard boxes and paper bags
- Phone books
- Magazines and catalogs
- Food/detergent boxes
- Office mix (file folders, fax paper, envelopes, advertisements, flyers, etc.)
- Junk mail, bulk mail, and scrap paper
- Paper bound with non-water soluble glue (paperback books, hardback books, overnight mail packages, etc.)
- Milk cartons (clean and rinsed)
- Aseptic Packages (juice boxes)
What goes in the White Paper bins?
White paper only (printer, fax, etc.). Colored ink is ok. It is important not to contaminate these bins with mixed paper as it diminishes the value. (Back to FAQ’s)
Where should I recycle white paper?
In buildings with existing white paper recycling programs, white paper should continue to be placed into white paper bins. Otherwise, white paper can also be placed into any other mixed recycling bins (blue lids outdoors, blue bins indoors). (Back to FAQ’s)
Where can I recycle CDs and DVDs?
You can send your old CD’s and DVD’s to the Facilities Management recycling office at: Campus Maintenance c/o Recycling Coordinator 151308. For larger quantities, please submit a Facilities Service Request (FSR) via the Facilities Management FSR website. (Back to FAQ’s)
I have an old Ink Jet/ Laser Jet printing cartridge. Where can I recycle these?
You can send your old Ink Jet/ Laser Jet printing cartridges to Facilities Management recycling office at: Campus Maintenance c/o Recycling Coordinator 151308. For larger quantities, please submit a Facilities Service Request (FSR) via the Facilities Management FSR website. (Back to FAQ’s)
Where can I recycle old cell phones?
You have a couple of options. Firstly, you can donate your cell phone to the Wireless Foundation, which will be programmed to assist victims of domestic violence if the phone is in working condition or disposed of in a safe way if the phone is not in working condition. Secondly, you can drop off the phone at the UCLA S.A.F.E. center located at 550 Charles E. Young Drive. (Back to FAQ’s)
Are pizza boxes recyclable?
Yes! Empty pizza boxes may be recycled even if they have grease on them. (Back to FAQ’s)
Are plastic bags recyclable?
Yes! If you are recycling many plastic bags, do not worry about putting all of the bags into one bag to make it neater. The bags will be taken out at the recycling facility to ensure that they are empty anyway. (Back to FAQ’s)
Is Styrofoam recyclable?
Since Styrofoam (of polystyrene) is a plastic, it is recyclable and can be placed in UCLA’s mixed recyclable bins. (Back to FAQ’s)
What about X?
Do bottles and cans need to be rinsed before being placed in the bins?
No, but please empty them first. While it is preferable that containers be placed into the bins be empty, they will be recycled regardless. All trapped liquids get squeezed out in the recycling process. (Back to FAQ’s)
Do I have to rinse out my recyclable containers before placing them in the bin?
It is not required to do this, though it is preferred if there is a lot of food. Let us rephrase: Please, no food in the recycling bins. But almost everything else goes. (Back to FAQ’s)
Can recyclables be thrown away in plastic bags?
Yes, however since bags will need to be opened to begin the sorting process, it is preferable that items are not placed in bags. (Back to FAQ’s)
Which plastics should be placed in the recycling bins?
In Santa Monica, plastics 1-9 are recyclable (so all plastics). If it turns out that the plastic is not recyclable, it will simply be sorted out at the recycling facility. (Back to FAQ’s)
If the plastic that I am trying to recycle doesn’t have a number on it, can I still recycle it?
While plastics usually have a recycling number on them, if you only have a few of these items, it is safe to dispense them in a recycling bin. If it turns out that the plastic is not recyclable, it will simply be sorted out at the recycling facility. (Back to FAQ’s)
Should plastic/glass bottle caps be removed prior to being recycled?
Not necessarily. The bottles are recycled in one way or another. However, it is preferable to place both cap and bottle in bin separately. (Back to FAQ’s)
Is it better to put biodegradable plastics with a #7 in the recycle bin or the food waste bin?
It can be put into both, but choose the food waste bin if available. NOTE: not all #7 plastic is compostable. Make sure product says “compostable” before disposing in food waste bin. (Back to FAQ’s)
Is it even worth it to place really small items like straw wrappers into a recycling bin, or are these items too hard to sort out at the recycling facility?
Yes, it is worthwhile to place small items in the bins. While some of the smaller items get lost in the sorting process, much of it makes it through. (Back to FAQ’s)
What is single-stream or commingled recycling? What are the benefits, and is this effective?
Single-stream is a fancy term for co-mingled or mixed recycling. Under this system, all recyclables can be placed into the same bin. They are then sorted on the back end by a waste management or recycling company. This “single-stream” is simpler and more convenient, as either something goes in the blue recycling bin or it goes in the black/ brown trash bin. It is highly effective and is used by many communities, schools, and businesses around the world. Switching to single-stream will help UCLA reach its waste diversion (not going to a landfill) goals of 100% by 2020. (Back to FAQ’s)
Won’t there be more contamination if we put everything into the same bin?
Yes, there can be some additional contamination, but the increase in recycling collection makes up for it. Food is what causes “contamination” of recyclables and food should not be placed into the new mixed recycling bins. (Back to FAQ’s)
Is single stream more energy intensive and more expensive?
Slightly, but the increase in recycling makes up for this. Landfill space is limited.This means trash will have to be trucked out of state. (Back to FAQ’s)
Where does our recycling go?
Recyclables are collected on campus from the recycling bins, and then taken to a local facility in Santa Monica where they are sorted. From there, they are bundled and sold as commodities to be made into new products. Where exactly they go depends on the current market demand. (Back to FAQ’s)
Who sorts the recyclables?
We have a contract with our waste hauler to sort out our recyclables. Most of UCLA’s recyclables are sorted locally at a facility in Santa Monica. (Back to FAQ’s)
What about compost?
While campus wide composting is not available yet on the grounds, UCLA composts all of our food waste from the dining halls- an average of 60 tons a month! ASUCLA is also piloting composting in some of their facilities. As we move towards zero waste by 2020, we will increase composting on campus. (Back to FAQ’s)
Requesting additional Recycling bins
I live in the apartments off-campus, but my building doesn’t have any recycling bins. What can I do about this?
You can contact your building manager about receiving recycling services form you waste hauler. The L.A. County Recycling Ordinance mandates all waste haulers to provide this service, it also allows these haulers to charge a fee, but this fee is usually only between $0.50-$3.00 per month. (Back to FAQ’s)