The U of M recycling program has been nationally recognized for its outstanding efforts in recycling implementation. Throughout the U over 3,800 tons of recyclable materials are processed annually; this is equivalent to 41% of municipal solid waste generated by everyone on campus!
There are over 20,000 color-coded recycling office paper, newspaper, cans & bottles, and trash containers to make recycling convenient across campus.
We are proud to introduce organic containers in several buildings around campus. Our current goal is to recycle 50% of the school's overall waste. Long term, we believe the U of M can become a Zero Waste Campus.
About : Discover which services we offer to the U community.
Organics Recycling: Learn more about Organics Recyling and the future of collecting compostables on the twin cities campus.
Zero Waste Events: Learn how to make your next event zero waste!
Recycling Routes: Look up when a recycling truck will be stopping at your building.
Recycling Guide: Find out which common items can or cannot be recycled through our program.
Waste Guide: There are a few items that the UMN Recycling Program can't accept. If you have an item that you're unsure what to do with, use this guide to find out where to dispose of it.
FAQ: Need to know how to recycle a material or who to call? Here are some of our frequently asked questions.
Make an Impact!
Rethinking your Habits
Coffee Cup Culture Shift
In recent years the popularity of the coffee shop has skyrocketed and the industry is booming. According to the official website, Starbucks beverages account for approximately 4 billion cups globally each year. Many people think that most disposable paper cups are recyclable, but this is not the case.
The majority of disposable coffee cups used by large corporations and small businesses alike are made of paper and lined with a thin, film plastic called polyethylene that waterproofs the cup. Separating this polyethylene from the paper is a complex process most municipal recycling facilities can’t do. Studies estimate that less than one in 400 coffee cups gets recycled.
In the United States roughly 54 % of the population drinks an average of 3 cups of coffee every day. Though there are people who brew at home or use a reusable cup, this still is a staggering amount of unnecessary waste. So how can we make a difference?
The easiest step to take is to invest in a reusable cup! Bringing your own cup to your favorite java shop eliminates the need for a disposable one, plus it keeps your beverage warmer for longer and is less likely to spill. There are many coffee shops, including Starbucks, that offer a small discount to customers who provide their own cup.
Okay, so we probably won’t be able to convince everyone to use a reusable mug, what else can we do? There are alternative materials available that can drastically decrease the environmental impact of a disposable cup. Encourage your local businesses to buy compostable, pressed paper cups that are waterproofed using PLA, not polyethylene. Polylactic Acid or PLA is bioplastic that is derived from organic materials like corn starch, tapioca roots, and sugarcane that keeps liquid from leaking and is completely compostable. Just because these products are made from plants doesn’t mean they are low quality or will melt in hot temperatures- there is a special type of PLA, CPLA that is made specifically to withstand higher temperatures.
We have all of the tools to reduce waste, let’s work together with businesses and consumers to educate people about recycling and the waste they generate and move away from a disposable consumer culture.
Check out what the owner of the world's largest collection of disposable coffee cup lids (some pictured below) has to say about consumerism and design.