If you’re wondering what is recycling or how to recycle properly, check below to learn everything from recycling basics to expert tips.

Three Basic Rules
Knowing these rules and putting them into practice will help you recycle more efficiently.

Recycle 1-update

Recycle bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard

Recycle 2

Keep food and liquid out of your recycling

Recycle 3

No loose plastic bags and no bagged recyclables

What can be recycled: Recycling Guide


Accepted in your Bin
These items can go in your recycling bin, as long as they're clean and dry

Recycle bottles, jars, jugs and tubs.

  • #1 and #2 plastics are the most likely to actually be recycled
    • The chasing arrows symbol doesn’t necessarily mean a plastic object can be recycled.
    • Plastic bags and film cannot be recycled. 
  • Rinse and put cap back on before tossing in the bin

Recycle empty aluminum cans, tins, and steel cans

Recycle paper, newspaper, and magazines

  • Throw away wet paper

On main campus:

  • Flattened cardboard should be taken to D2 Greenquist and placed in the receiving bins or place flattened boxes next to your room recycling and ask custodial staff to take them

In housing:

  • Flatten the box and place in the large recycling bins on each floor or place in recycling dumpsters in parking lots
  • Pizza boxes can be recycled if they don’t have leftovers or cheese in them



Not Accepted in your Bin
Try to reduce and reuse these items instead of putting them in the trash

Plastic bags contaminate the recycling load, leading to all materials being thrown out.

  • If your office recycling bin has a liner, empty the recyclables directly into a recycling dumpster, leaving the liner in place

Plastic bags get tangled in equipment and damage machinery. Do not put them in recycling. Reuse them, throw them away, or take them to a plastic bag disposal location, commonly found at grocery stores

Plastic Wrap, sandwich bags, food wrappers or other flimsy plastic should not be placed in recycling

Chip bags, soup or juice pouches, electronics or toy packaging etc. should be thrown in the garbage

These should be tossed, as well as the lid. The paper sleeve can be recycled.

Plastic to-go containers, cup, packing peanuts or any other foam products are not recyclable


Other Materials
These materials require different disposal options

Bear Boxes should not be recycled or thrown away.

Return them to Brickstone Grill and Eatery or Wyllie Market in exchange for a voucher token. The containers are then washed and reused.

Clothing, shower curtains, mini pools, and furniture do not go in the recycling bin.

  • Donate clothing in good condition.
  • Spring move out provides drop off locations for unwanted household items.

Medical waste can pose a safety hazard and should never go in recycling or waste bins.

  • Needles should be disposed of in a medical waste container.

Alkaline batteries (typical non-rechargeable batteries) can be disposed of in the trash when dead.

Lithium ion batteries (rechargeable batteries typically found in phones, electric toothbrushes, laptops etc) should be recycled at an approved drop-off location

  • UW-Parkside has collection boxes for rechargeable batteries in the Facilities Management building and the D2 Facilities Management office in Wyllie Hall
  • Locate a retailer that accepts rechargeable batteries at

Common Recycle Myths

Reality: False

Research shows convenience and commitment are required for maximum recycle. For instance, do you recycle in several rooms of your home? If you only recycle in the kitchen, recyclables in your home office or bathroom get thrown away. So make recycling a collaborative effort where everyone participates, enabling the most recycling of the right materials.

Reality: Containers should be clean, but don't have to be spotless.

While all bottles, cans and containers should be clean, dry and free of most food waste before you place them in your recycling container, they don’t need to be spotless. The goal is to make sure they are clean enough to avoid contaminating other materials, like paper, or your un-lined kitchen recycling bin. Try using a spatula to scrape cans and jars, and putting recyclables in your sink among the dishes you are rinsing to share that same water to rinse and remove residue.

Reality: False. Non-recyclable items are not accepted curbside.

Non-recyclable items contaminate recyclables. Recyclables stuck inside plastic bags are at risk for never making it through the recycling process. Conversely, recyclable items placed into garbage containers are hauled to a landfill and cannot be recovered effectively. The right thing to do is put the right recyclables in the recycling container and non-recyclables into garbage containers. Recyclables with the greatest impact are bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.

Reality: Just because it's plastic doesn't mean it's recyclable in your recycling program.

If it’s not bottles, cans, paper or cardboard, it probably doesn’t belong in your curbside mixed recycling bin and may even require special handling. Just because an item is made from plastic, or contains plastic parts, doesn’t mean recycling facilities can handle it. There are other resources (e.g., that can help answer questions about what to do with non-recyclables or household hazardous waste.

Reality: Bear Boxes should never be put in the trash or recycling bin

Bear Boxes can be washed and reused. Return them to the cashier at Wyllie Market or Brickstone Grill & Eatery for a token to use the next time. Purchasing a new Bear Box every time without having a token can get expensive.


Recycling & Sustainability Initiatives
See how UW-Parkside is helping to reduce waste on campus

Water Bottle Refilling

There are over a dozen water bottle refill stations around campus, allowing for quick and convenient refills.

Electronics Recycling

Old electronic equipment from offices and labs are recycled annually. 

Students can dispose of old electronics during spring moveout at a designeated location in University Apartments.

Bear Boxes

Bear Boxes are UW-Parkside's reusable takeout containers. Each box costs an inital deposit when first used. After use, return the container to a cashier at Wyllie Market or Brickstone Grill & Eatery in exchange for a token. Next time a box is ordered, the token is given at checkout to avoid another deposit fee.

Have a question on whether something can be recycled or taken for disposal? 

Have an idea for a recycling initiative you'd like to see on campus?

Contact the Sustainability Coordinator:

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