Recycling at PLU

Across campus, there are recycling containers labeled to guide the PLU community on what to recycle where. Whether you are in a Residence Hall, Academic or other building, these containers help us continue our commitment to recycling and waste diversion. Below is a brief guide for what can be recycled and what container to use for different items.

Co-Mingled or Recycling (typically a blue label or container)

*These containers take most of our recycling. Instead of sorting each individual kind of recycling (plastic, metals, paper) we typically use a single stream recycling method, as a catch all, to simplify our recycling practices.


Each dorm on campus has their own recycling rooms located on each floor for convenience.

Unlike the blue containers – the dorm recycling rooms require the students to sort their items by type.
For easy sorting we have labeled the recycling room barrels with color coded signs.

Items that can go in these containers include:

  • Plastics (clean and dry: bottles, jugs, and containers)
  • Metals (tin and aluminum cans)
  • Paper (any kind of paper, including office, paper, newspaper, magazines, and cereal boxes)
  • Cardboard (shipping boxes, etc.)
    • Please break down boxes before placing them in their containers to save space

Glass (typically a red label or container)

Glass recycling banner - Glass recycled at PLU goes to Seattle, where it is turned into new bottles! Look for the glass recycling bins when you've finished your glass bottle or container.

*Glass is the one common recycling item that we sort out as it presents a safety hazard in the co-mingled recycling

Items that can go in these containers include:

  • Brown, clear, green (basically any color) of glass
    • Unbroken glass is preferred

**No mirrors, light bulbs, ceramics or window glass

Compost (typically a small green bucket, or large green tote labeled compost or food waste)

Food & Compostables banner - Look for a green bucket to keep all of your compostables out of the landfill. Even napkins, coffee cups and many to-go food boxes can go in! Get your own bucket for your dorm now at the dish room in the Dining Hall.

In academic and office buildings these green buckets are often located in break rooms or near coffee pots. Around classrooms they areĀ near the recycling containers in hallways. Residence halls typically have one per kitchen space that is maintained by the RHC Sustainability Director.

*If you would like a small compost bucket for your personal use, in your South Hall apartment or off campus house, you are welcome to take one from the AUCĀ dish room

Items that go into the compost bucket include:

  • Food waste: food scraps, coffee grounds and filter, and food contaminated paper products, such as napkins, to-go boxes (from the commons, no Styrofoam containers) greasy pizza boxes, and coffee to-go cups (place the plastic lids in the trash please!)
  • Flowers, and other plants

Special Collection* (these items need to be picked up by the Waste Diversion Staff, and most do not have a specified bin/location)

Special Collection - Thank you for taking extra time to process your batteries, CFL bulbs, plastic bags, packing peanuts, hazardous waste, and prescription drugs; keeping them out of the landfill protects our ground water and our environment.

  • Batteries
  • Light Bulbs
  • Styrofoam
  • Packing Peanuts
  • Broken Electronics
  • Ink Cartridges
  • Plastic bags, plastic film and Amazon plastic shipping envelopes

**Staff – please place a work order for pick up of these items,
**Students – in Residence Halls, place neatly beside traditional recycling (contain packing peanuts to a separate bag or box)

Trash (often in a black/grey container labeled Landfill, or green Landfill totes, and dumpsters for Residence Halls)

Landfill banner - Garbage containers not specially labeled head to the landfill. Most of what we typically put in the garbage can be reused. Do your part to help increase our diversion rate and keep refuse out of the landfill by recycling and composting!

  • Anything not listed above. Some common items that are placed in recycling but are actually trash are:
    • ALL plastic materials besides bottles, tubs and jugs (Plastic: films*, bags*, cups, lids, straws, buckets, plant pots)
    • Plastic packing/ bubble wrap*
    • Shredded paper
    • Paper/ Plastic plates
    • Paper cups
    • Styrofoam food containers
    • Tissues, Paper towels, and napkins
    • Food Wrappers (chip bags, candy wrappers, crinkly plastic wrapping, and condiment packets)
    • Plastic Utensils

Some Important Notes

It is incredibly helpful to the Waste Diversion Staff if you rinse out your containers before placing them in the recycling. This helps keep our bags and containers from smelling and prolongs the life of these bags and containers. This also helps reduce the amount of contaminants in the recycling, keeping costs down and creates a better recycled product.

Curious where the recycling from PLU goes? Check out this out: Where is Away?

Here is a printable version of Pierce Counties Recycling reminder below. If you would like an exhaustive list of what can go in our recycling, compost, and trash bins please check out our printable Recycling Specifications document. If you have any specific questions please contact the Waste Diversion Department.