Recycling

    

The more Columbia recycles, the more we save money and contribute to a sustainable environment. Facilities works with campus partners such as Environmental Health & Safety and Environmental Stewardship to improve the University's recycling efforts. In recent years, the community recycled hundreds of tons of mixed paper and cardboard, 155 tons of electronics, 45 tons of lamps, 20 tons of batteries, tens of tons of glass, metal and plastic and much more.

You can do your part by checking out what materials are recyclable and how and where to recycle them. The information below is for recycling for Morningside Campus Academic and Administrative Buildings. You can also check out how to recycle at  University Apartment Housing, Undergraduate Residence Halls, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Baker Field Athletic Complex, and Nevis Laboratories.  We appreciate your cooperation as the recycling program depends on your participation!

- Paper and Cardboard
- Glass, Metal and Plastic Containers
- Computer and Other Electronic Equipment
- Fluorescent Lamps and Other Mercury-Containing Devices
- Batteries
- Laboratory Chemicals
- Laboratory Containers and Glassware
- Printer and Copier Cartridges
- Medical Waste
- Silver
- Bulk Waste
- Order a Recycling Bin
- Clean + Go Green

Paper and Cardboard

Columbia University's Morningside Campus cooperates with New York City's recycling program in all academic and administrative buildings. The program requires separating the various kinds of recyclables including all types of paper and cardboard. Paper and cardboard can be discarded together into any receptacles designated for paper. If you don't find these receptacles, contact Facilities to request them. Within each office, you'll find small blue or white bins labeled for paper recycling. In central areas - near copiers or in hallways, for example - you'll find larger bins designated for paper. The custodial staff collects all the paper and cardboard. It's brought to a central location where the New York City Department of Sanitation picks up the cardboard and American International Paper picks up the paper. The Morningside Campus, including academic and administrative buildings and residence halls, generates about 139 tons of paper and cardboard for recycling each year. 

What and How to Recycle:
PAPER & CARDBOARD

All Paper Image
Trash Icon Image

 YES - PLACE IN RECYCLING BIN

 NO - PLACE IN TRASH BIN

  • White, colored and glossy paper (Staples OK, but not spiral bindings.)
  • Mail and envelopes
  • Wrapping paper (Remove ribbon and tape.)
  • Smooth cardboard (Shoe boxes, tubes from paper towel and toilet paper rolls, cardboard from product packaging. For food boxes, remove inside and outside plastic wrappers.)
  • Paper bags
  • Cardboard egg cartons and trays
  • Newspapers, magazines and catalogs
  • Phone books, soft-cover books (Paperbacks, comic books, etc.)
  • Corrugated cardboard (If flattened boxes are large, place them next to the recycling bin.)
  • Hardcover books (Recyclable, if the cover is removed.)
  • Used napkins, paper towels or tissues
  • Soiled paper cups or plates
  • Heavily soiled paper
  • Plastic- or wax-coated paper or cardboard (Candy wrappers, take-out containers, etc.)

Back to Top

Glass, Metal and Plastic Containers

Columbia University's Morningside Campus cooperates with New York City's recycling program in all academic and administrative buildings. The program requires separating the various kinds of recyclables including some types of glass, metal, plastic and beverage cartons. Not all plastics and glass are recyclable under New York City's recycling program; see below for a description of which items are recyclable. Receptacles marked "Bottles & Cans" are generally found in hallways, pantries and dining and food-preparation areas. If you need more receptacles, contact Facilities.

The custodial staff collects these recyclables for pickup by the New York City Department of Sanitation. Metal such as piping, appliances and furniture that's too large for the bins may be recyclable as scrap metal. Scrap metal is removed by the Facilities staff. A service request may be required for removal of large items.

Glassware from laboratories is recyclable through a separate recycling program and may not be placed in receptacles designated for "Bottles & Cans."

The Morningside Campus recycles about one and a half tons of glass, metal and plastic each year. The campus recycles approximately seven tons of scrap metal each year.

What and How to Recycle:
GLASS, METAL, PLASTIC & BEVERAGE CARTONS

 

 
Trash Icon Image

 YES - PLACE IN RECYCLING

 NO - PLACE IN TRASH

  • Glass bottles and jars (Glassware from laboratories is recyclable under a separate program.)
  • Metal cans (Tuna cans, empty aerosol cans, empty and dried-out paint cans with lids removed, for example.)
  • Aluminum foil wrap and trays
  • Household metal (Wire coat hangers, pots, pans, for example.)
  • Plastic bottles, jugs, caps, lids, food containers (yogurt, take out), non food containers, packaging, and houseware (tupperware, flower pots)
  • Beverage cartons and drink boxes (Milk and juice.)
  • Any glass items other than glass bottles and jars (Mirrors, light bulbs, ceramics, and glassware, for example.)
  • Any plastic items other than plastic bottles, jugs and containers (plastic toys, cups, bags and wrap, for example.)  
  • Styrofoam (Cups, egg cartons, trays, for example.)  

Back to Top  

Computer and Other Electronic Equipment

Columbia University complies with all local, state and federal regulations regulating the disposal of electronic waste through demanufacturing, that is by recovering parts that can be reused, thereby keeping as much as possible out of the waste stream.

To remove a piece of electronic equipment, departments must submit a service request through Facilities. The equipment is then brought to a central area from which it's removed by Northeast Lamp Recycling. The Morningside Campus recycles approximately four and a half tons of this hazardous or potentially hazardous waste, including lamps and other mercury-containing devices, each year. 

Back to Top

Fluorescent Lamps and Other Mercury-Containing Devices

Mercury-containing devices such as fluorescent lamps and ballasts are classified as hazardous waste. Columbia University's Morningside Campus complies with federal regulations for their disposal and recycling in all academic and administrative buildings.

Spent lamps from academic and administrative buildings are replaced by Facilities staff and are brought to a secure centralized storage area. Northeast Lamp Recycling regularly removes lamps for disposal and recycling. If you need a fluorescent lamp replaced in your department or building, place a service request with Facilities.

The Morningside Campus recycles approximately four and a half tons of this hazardous or potentially hazardous waste, including electronic waste, each year.

Back to Top

Batteries

Most batteries, excluding alkaline, are classified as hazardous waste. Columbia University's Morningside Campus complies with federal regulations for their disposal and recycling in all academic and administrative buildings. Place a service request with Facilities for battery disposal.

Alkaline batteries do not have to be recycled and may be placed in the regular trash.

Back to Top 

Laboratory Chemicals

Chemicals used in laboratories are controlled and regulated by New York State and the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA oversees a working list of hazardous substances that must be handled, stored and disposed of in accordance with local, state and federal laws. Columbia University's Morningside Campus complies with these regulations in all academic and administrative buildings.

Lab chemicals and/or contaminated rags and glass are all considered hazardous waste. No laboratory chemicals should ever be poured down the drain.

For removal of chemicals, labs are required to complete an online request form with EH&S. An Environmental Health & Safety staff member brings all materials to a centralized area from which they're removed by a hazardous waste vendor. The Morningside Campus generates approximately 38 tons of hazardous chemical waste each year.

Back to Top

Laboratory Containers and Glassware

Columbia University's Morningside Campus complies with all local, state and federal regulations regarding the handling, storage and disposal of laboratory chemical containers and glassware. If you have an empty, intact and clean chemical container (glass, metal or plastic, with or without a bar code), follow all normal hazardous waste procedures. Rinse the empty container with water, deface the label and deposit it in the yellow central receptacle located on your floor.

If you have unclean and broken containers or glassware, follow all normal hazardous waste procedures. Deposit the item in the blue plastic containers in the lab. If you can, remove the bar code or write down the numerical bar code sequence. Give the bar code or sequence number to the chemical tracking team in 154 Chandler (chemistry, 212-854-5207) or 200ST Pupin (biology, 212-854-7469) so the item can be removed from inventory.

If you have clean and broken containers or glassware, remove the bar code or write down the bar code sequence and provide this information to the chemical tracking team in 154 Chandler (chemistry, 212-854-5207) or 200ST Pupin (biology, 212-854-7469) so the item can be removed from inventory. Afterwards, rinse the container with water (containers must be completely empty of chemicals) and deposit the container into the plastic-lined cardboard Glassware Disposal Box in your lab. Once this box is filled, close the box and place in the corridor for removal by Facilities. You can obtain replacement boxes from the appropriate chemical tracking team.

If you have biologically contaminated glassware (all pipettes, volumetric and Pasteur), deposit the items into the large 8-gallon sharps containers.

For removal of any type of container, place a request by using the EH&S on-line form, or call Environmental Health & Safety at 212-854-8749.

Back to Top

Printer and Copier Cartridges

All spent toner cartridges should be sent back to the manufacturer by using the prepaid shipping labels you receive with each new cartridge. 

Back to Top

Medical Waste

All of the Student Health Services locations at Columbia University's Morningside Campus comply with OSHA and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations for the handling and disposal of biological wastes. Each location is equipped with lockable metal receptacles for medical waste and contaminated sharps. These materials are placed in a labeled red bag. All Health Services staff are trained to handle this waste. Stericycle, a licensed vendor, removes medical wastes for disposal.

Back to Top

Silver

Columbia University's Morningside Campus photography darkrooms comply with EPA and New York State regulations governing the disposal of hazardous chemicals. The silver recovery program ensures that silver-nitrate wastewater produced during film processing is properly recycled.

If you use a drip tray to manually expose your film, you should dump the chemical wash tray into the Silver Recovery Unit in each dark room. If using an automatic processor, this is done for you.

The Silver Recovery unit extracts the silver by forcing the waste water through a metallic filter cartridge. These cartridges are removed by a private vendor who takes them to a precious-metals reclamation center.

Approximately 100 troy ounces of silver are captured for reclamation on the Morningside Campus each year. 

Back to Top

Bulk Waste

Bulk waste is commonly generated during a clean-out, construction or move-in period. It is either collected in a container near where it's produced, or brought to a central collection area for removal by a private waste hauler.

The Morningside campus generates approximately 14 tons of bulk waste each year. This material is usually taken to a landfill, although some may be separated for recycling by the private hauler. 

Back to Top

Order a Recycling Bin

Submit a service request with Facilities to request a recycling bin. 

Back to Top

Clean + Go Green

Twice a year, as part of our "Clean + Go Green" program, Facilities places large bins across campus for the recycling of large unwanted items. Facilities staff are on hand to help unload and properly sort items for recycling. Please visit our "Clean + Go Green" Web page for more information.    

Back to Top