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Think Big, Live Green. Creating a sustainable campus and community requires action from every member of the Cornell community. How can you empower your peers, teams, and colleagues to take action on sustainability and climate issues around campus?
This website provides up-to-date signage and resources that may be used in your work to engage students and employees as change agents and informed sustainability champions. Is something missing? Let us know what you need at
Sign-up to serve as a Compost Manager for your community
Important: Once online sign-ups end on Wednesday 8/29, look out for an email with details about our lunchtime training retreat on Saturday 9/1, where you will learn more, collect supplies, and meet people from communities all across campus!
FAQs for RECYCLING CHANGES
Major recycling restrictions went into effect on July 1st across the country. We need your help to ensure continues to capture and reuse our recyclable materials properly.
- Recycled materials must be clean– no visible food debris, oil, or other remnants
- Only plastic #1, #2, and #5 can be recycled (used to be #1-7)
- Contamination could significantly lower recycling rates on campus – don’t be a “wishful” recycler.
- Remember, no Styrofoam in the recycling (even if labeled with a recycling number), and all compostable service-ware such as forks and plate must go in the trash (they just don’t break down in the compost!)
Why are these changes happening?
- For decades, China purchased a large percentage of the world’s recyclable materials (including from the United States). China often received highly contaminated loads of recyclables rendering them unusable. In response, China recently changed their policy and will heavily restrict the recycled materials they accept from foreign states.
- Most communities in the US are not equipped to recycle the same variety as the US shipped overseas, and many US plants need materials to be cleaner than before.
How can you help?
- When in doubt, throw it out.
Contaminating just one recycling bin has a big impact. All campus recycling (from residential and academic buildings) is picked up by the same recycling truck. If there is a truck full of clean recyclables but one building has contaminated bags, the entire truckload of recyclables will be thrown in the landfill.
- Wipe it out!
Instead of using water to clean items, use a napkin or paper towel to wipe out containers with oil or food debris. Then, compost the napkin / paper towel! Bottom line: We must clean our recyclables before we recycle them.
The good news is our campus and community are working to reduce overall waste – and you can help.
- Cornell University and Tompkins County will continue single stream recycling, so all paper, cardboard, plastics (#1,2,5), metal, and glass can be recycled in any blue recycling bin
- Our biggest goal is to reduce all waste, including recycling. In addition to sorting waste properly into recycling, compost, and landfill, we encourage everyone to consider new ways to minimize your purchasing and reduce the waste you produce.
- Buy items with recycled content. This drives the demand for recycled materials and improves the recycling market.
- Take a reusable mug and water bottle with you, remember your reusable straw and spork, and don’t forget to bring a take-out container when you head to a restaurant.
Learn more at recycle.cornell.edu.