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Recycling and Composting Guidelines

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Paper and plastic film

Look for blue recycling bins in centralized locations across campus for paper and plastic film waste. Stackable multi-recyclers are available in undergraduate rooms, and the Desk-Side Recycling and Mini Trash Can Program helps increase paper recycling in office buildings.  The Green Labs Program offers free paper bins to campus labs to facilitate paper recycling.


Corrugated cardboard can be recycled in outside dumpsters enclosures labeled specifically for corrugated cardboard throughout campus (inside packaging material should be removed and recycled if possible, and boxes should be flattened). It is alright to keep packaging tape attached to cardboard boxes when putting them in the dumpsters!

Tip: Paper and plastic film (bubble wrap and air pillows) packaging goes into blue paper recycling bins.

Plastics, metals and glass

Plastics, metals and glass are recycled in green recycling bins in centralized locations in and outside of campus buildings, cafés, and throughout athletic venues. Recycling bins are located in all dumpster enclosures throughout student housing, with stackable recycling bins in undergraduate rooms. Free lab bins for plastics, metal and glass are also handed out for free through the Cardinal Green Labs program.


Composting is available in campus dining facilities, most cafés, graduate housing, undergraduate housing common areas, faculty/staff housing, on-campus nursery/elementary schools, and over 200 central locations throughout academic buildings, public spaces, and athletic facilities. Usable food is donated to community organizations through SPOON, the Stanford Project on Hunger, and other local area organizations.

Special Events

Event planners for campus events can place orders for recycling, composting, and landfill receptacles for events.  The Cardinal Green Events Program provides green event guidelines for student events and catered activities and encourages the use of certified compostable serviceware.


Stanford mulches brush and tree trimmings for use on campus, composts yard clippings, and "grasscycles" (leave mowing trimmings behind).


Concrete, clean fill, dirt, sheetrock, and mixed construction waste from construction and demolition activities are all recycled or reused when possible. All construction contractors use the campus hauling service, simplifying and streamlining Stanford's monitoring and record-keeping of construction and demolition waste. Currently, 87% of all construction waste is recycled.

Electronic equipment

Stanford’s Surplus Property Sales operation collects and sells usable computers, displays and other electronic equipment. Equipment that can’t be resold is recycled off-site.

Small electronics

Cell phones, chargers, CDs and other small electronics are collected in more than 125 drop-off bins in academic buildings and residences. All small electronics are refurbished or recycled in their entirety.


Stanford’s battery collection system meets the campus’ unique needs through a combination of drop-off bins at over 200 locations and regular hazardous waste pickups. Batteries are recycled off-site with recovery of metals, including cadmium and mercury.

Property reuse

Through Surplus Property Sales and the Property Management Office, the Reuse website helps university departments share and reuse equipment, furniture and supplies.

Hazardous Waste

Stanford’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) arranges for removal of hazardous waste materials, with protocols that help prevent spills, discharge into wastewater and evaporation into the atmosphere. The user-friendly nature of the program protects human health and the environment by reducing the potential for accidents and improper disposal. Stanford also tries to limit the use of hazardous materials and chooses substitutes whenever possible.