VCU Recycling

VCU utilizes a single stream recycling collection program in our facilities to simplify the collection of recyclable materials.

  • Do not place non-recyclable items, food scraps, liquids, styrofoam and other items that can contaminate the recycling in your container. Too much contamination will cause all the recyclable items to be sent to the landfill.
  • Hint: Place all wet, dirty items in trash/organic containers.
  • Break down all cardboard boxes, flattened boxes take up a lot less space in the recycling container.
  • Plastic bags are not accepted in the single stream recycling program. 
  • We recommend using reusable bags and/or return the plastic bags to your local grocery store for recycling.

Frequently asked questions about single stream recycling

What kind of recycling program does VCU have?
VCU has a single stream/commingled recycling program. All recyclable materials can be placed in one recycling container for collection. The VCU contract housekeeping staff services the central recycling containers daily and the small desk side containers once a week.  Learn more about single stream recycling [PDF].

What materials does VCU accept for recycling?
The following materials can be placed in the blue recycling bins inside buildings and the specially-marked recycling containers in the common areas inside and outside of buildings: mixed paper, all colors of paper, books, food boxes, magazines, newspapers, spiral notebooks, cardboard boxes, plastics No. 1-7, aluminum cans, all colors of glass bottles and jars and steel cans. There is no need to remove staples or paper clips from items. VCU does not accept plastic bags/packaging for recycling..

Special kiosks to collect small electronic items, such as cell phones, batteries and ink cartridges are located in the freshman residence halls and in the Cabell Library lobby. University-owned electronics, such as computers, TVs and other special items, are recycled thru the Facilities Management’s surplus property program. For information on surplus property, go to www.fmd.vcu.edu/ppd/surplus.html.

Other materials that VCU recycles include chemicals and paints (through the Office of Environmental Health and Safety), construction and demolition debris, and wood pallets.

What materials cannot be recycled?
The following materials cannot be recycled: plastic bags, styrofoam, food-contaminated boxes (not including empty pizza boxes), wax-coated cardboard, tissues, used napkins, laboratory glass and any items considered a biohazard.

How do I receive a recycling bin for daily use, an office cleanout or to shred confidential documents?
Submit a work order through VCU Facilities Management at quikfm.vcu.edu

How do I recycle ink-jet and toner cartridges?
If you use Ball Office Products for the purchase of ink-jet/toner cartridges they will pick-up the used cartridges for recycling when they make a delivery to your office. Simply advise the driver that you have used cartridges ready for pickup.

If you use Guy Brown for the purchase of ink-jet and toner cartridges, you can return cartridges to the manufacturer in the original box with the prepaid postage decal/envelope provided via FedEX or UPS.  

To arrange for a pick-up of toner/ink jet cartridges, Mended Little Hearts, a local charity raising money to help children with heart defects, will also pick-up upon request. Contact mlemacks@verizon.net or call 647-3831 to do so, or view their flyer to learn more about Mended Little Hearts.

Does VCU receive any revenue from recycling?
VCU is paid by Virginia Waste Service for the various recyclable items it collects. Mixed paper is an especially valuable commodity because it can most easily be recycled into new paper. Aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles are also valuable for the amount of energy saved by recycling them into new products versus using raw materials.
Where does our recycling go?
Single stream recycling collected from each building is placed in an exterior recycling container in the vicinity of each VCU building. Virginia Waste Services transports the recyclable materials to their material recovery facility in Chester, Va., for processing. Learn more about how material recovery facilities work.

Light bulbs, ballasts and batteries from VCU facilities are recycled through AERC Recycling Solutions. Scrap electronics are collected by VCU surplus property and recycled through Computer Recycling of Virginia. Construction debris, mattresses and broken surplus property are recycled through ACE Recycling, and scrap metals are recycled through River City Recycling.

Can I recycle items during student move-out?
During move-out, Residential Life and Housing will set-up special collection bins for reusable items to be donated to a local non-profit agency. Items accepted include clothing, electronics, microwaves, lamps, furniture and rugs.

Does VCU compost?
Currently VCU does not compost its pre-consumer or post-consumer food waste from the dining halls or other food operations operated by ARAMARK. Virginia Waste Services utilizes the food waste generated from VCU in their landfill to create methane.

Through Virginia Waste Services partnership with INGENCO at their landfill in Chester, Va., the methane gas is collected and converted into16 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to power an average of 10,000 homes a day.  VCU Facilities Management collects leaves and tree limbs that ACE Recycling collects for making into compost.

Where can I recycle if I live off campus?
If you live in a house near campus, contact the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority for recycling information at cvwma.com or call (804) 340-0900. They will deliver a green recycling bin to your residence for free and will empty it every other week. 

If you live in an apartment complex, check with the manager if the existing waste hauler can provide a recycling container for your building. The additional cost for a recycling container is typically offset by the reduction in the waste disposal cost.

VCU currently offers recycling drop-off containers located behind 500 Academic Centre on Ryland Avenue near Broad St. for use by students who live off-campus and have no other options for recycling.