What We Recycle
What can be recycled on campus?
Watch our student-created recycling videos here!
Vanderbilt accepts five major items through the main campus recycling program: paper, cardboard*, plastic, aluminum, and glass. A description of acceptable and non acceptable items is listed below.
Material Acceptable Items for Recycling Unacceptable Items for Recycling
Mixed Paper Office paper (white and colored; staples and paper clips are okay), newspaper, magazines, journals, one-ply cardboard/paperboard (cereal boxes, 6-, 12-, or 24-pack beverage boxes, and other thin, non-corrugated cardboard), envelopes (window envelopes, paper clips, and staples are all okay), and tissue boxes. Anything contaminated with food, tissue paper, paper towels, cardboard tubes from bathroom tissue/paper towels, napkins, corrugated cardboard (packing boxes), anything coated in wax (e.g. orange juice cartons, ice cream cartons, milk cartons), laminated paper, carbon paper, the spiral of a spiral notebook, padded envelopes, paper or Styrofoam cups, and phone books**.
Aluminum & Tin Empty drink cans and clean food cans, aluminum foil, and pie tins. Aluminum or tin that is contaminated with food, liquids or trash and other metal items.
Plastic All clean plastic containers. Containers contaminated with food or liquid, plastic bags, plastic film, lamination, wrappers, packing materials, Styrofoam.
Glass (Drop-Off Only) Glass jars and bottles. Drop-off only at these locations. Look for the specified glass recycling containers. It’s Okay to co-mingle your glass colors – the vendor we use has an optical sorter to get the colors sorted later. Any glass placed near or in residential or office recycling bins will not be recycled – it will be thrown away. Lids, bags, bulbs, beakers, windows, or any tempered glass.
Cardboard* Any corrugated cardboard (this is the thick cardboard made of two flat layers and a sandwiched spacing layer, e.g. packing boxes). Any cardboard that has been contaminated with food (e.g. pizza boxes). Any other corrugated item, like corrugated plastic. Packing materials (bubble wrap, peanuts).
REMEMBER: Depositing items into the bin that you wish were a part of our program does not bring about change, it renders the contents of that bin un-recyclable. Please sort all items into their proper bins, and if you are unsure whether an item is recyclable, or if you would like to suggest an item for recycling, hang on to it and ask us for guidance by email or at (615) 34-EARTH (343-2784).
*Cardboard is currently only being collected by student volunteers for the residential areas. A cardboard collection system for the rest of main campus is in the planning and pilot stages. Any VU student or employee is welcome to use the Peabody Recycling Center behind the Commons Center to recycle their own area’s cardboard.
**One phone book in a recycling bin will not cause a problem. More than one will tear the bag, and make the bag too difficult to lift. Click here for more information on phone book recycling.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s) can be recycled at 125 Bryan Building or 117 Peabody Maintenance Building. Locate these buildings on campus.
Visit the Waste and Recycling page for information concerning the recycling of computers and electronics, batteries, ink and toner cartridges, pens and mechanical pencils, and phone books.
For more information, please contact Vanderbilt’s Recycling Manager at 34-EARTH (343-2784).