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Campus Recycling Program

Vanderbilt has a 20-year history of recycling efforts to reduce waste going to landfills. In addition to traditional recycling programs for materials such as paper, plastic, cardboard, and glass, Vanderbilt has recycling programs for non-traditional materials like construction and demolition debris, toner cartridges, batteries, light bulbs, scrap metal, and electronics.



  • All clean plastic containers


Containers contaminated with:

  • Food or liquid
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic film
  • Lamination
  • Wrappers
  • Packing materials
  • Styrofoam

Mixed Paper


  • Office paper (white and colored; staples and paper clips are okay)
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Journals
  • One-ply cardboard/paperboard (cereal bozes, 6-, 12-, or 24 pack beverage boxes and other thin, non-corrugated cardboard)
  • Envelopes (window envelopes, paper clips, and staples are all okay)
  • 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 (orange juice cartons, ice cream cartons, milk cartons)
  • Laminated paper
  • Carbon paper
  • The spiral of a spiral notebook
  • Padded envelopes
  • Paper or Styrofoam cups
  • Phone books

Aluminum and Tin


  • Empty drink cans
  • Clean food cans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pie tins


  • Aluminum or tin that is contaminated with food, liquids, or trash and other metal items. 

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 and office recycling bins will not be recycled - it will be thrown away. 


  • Lids
  • Bags
  • Bulbs
  • Beakers
  • Windows
  • Any tempered glass



  • Any corrugated cardboard (this is the thick cardboard made of two flat layers and a sandwiched spacing layey, 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)

With the hustle and bustle of finishing up the semester, moving out can be a hectic process of trying to fit a year’s worth of stuff into cars, suitcases, and storage. For all the stuff that doesn’t fit, Vanderbilt’s Earth Friendly Move Out provides opportunities to keep a large volume of material out of the landfill while helping others at the same time.


OHARE will have donation locations set up across campus benefiting a variety of non-profit charities. You can donate many items, including old textbooks, at any of these locations or post them on Vandy FreeSwap!


In addition to donating, there are many convenient locations for recycling common items on campus.

  • Electronics: Personally-owned unusable or broken electronics, computers, and appliances may be dropped off in the specially designated areas outside of residence halls during move out. Be sure to erase or destroy any personal data! Any VU-owned computers, electronics, or appliances must follow the electronics disposal directions found here. These cannot be placed in the temporary drop-off sites.
  • Batteries, ink/toner cartridges, CFL bulbs, and pens/mechanical pencils: Recycling is available year-round at various locations across campus. See a map of these recycling locations here.
  • Plastic, aluminum, paper, and cardboard: Recycling is provided for these materials near residence halls. See a map of these recycling locations here.
  • Glass: See a map of these recycling locations here.

For more information about Earth Friendly Move Out, please visit the Waste and Recycling website, contact, call 343-2784 (E.ARTH on campus) or watch our award-winning recycling videos here!

A map of campus locations for batteries, ink & toner cartridges, CFLs, and ink pen & mechanical pencil recycling can be seen here.


Small battery recycling containers have been placed at several convenient locations for used batteries generated from work-relatedactivities. Acceptable batteriesinclude normal alkaline batteries, such as AA, AAA, C, D, etc., as well as rechargeable batteries, such as nickel-cadmium, lithium ion, and nickel-metal hydride batteries, from cell phones, PDAs, and portable equipment. When recycling a rechargeable battery, please place tape over the metal contacts to prevent metal-on-metal contact.

Locations include:

  • Commons Center, Sarratt Student Center, Kissam Center, and Wyatt Center main desks
  • Library entrances at Heard and Peabody Libraries
  • Outdoor Recreation Center main desk
  • Bryan Building and Peabody Maintenance Building lobbies
  • Information Desks at Branscomb Quad, Carmichael Towers East, Carmichael Towers West, Hank Ingram, Lewis House, and Vanderbilt Barnard
  • Buttrick Hall (Room 029)
  • Home Economics Room 209 (break room)
  • Neely Auditorium (outside room 206)
  • Olin Hall, Room 101
  • Stevenson Center, 6th Floor Physics Building (across from elevators)
  • Wyatt Center 1st floor information desk (atrium area)
  • 1025 16th Avenue South Building, Room 120
  • All student Reeve desk locations (for residential students only)
  • and HR Express/Commodore Concierge locations in VUMC (Medical Center North main lobby, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital second floor off sky-bridge from the South Garage)

Large batteries from Vanderbilt-owned equipment (towmotors, vehicles, etc.) can be collected by submitting a Waste Collection Form through Vanderbilt’s normal waste collection process. For questions about chemical waste collection, visit the VEHS website.



The Natchez Trace Leaf Compost Pile Vanderbilt’s scenic campus contains more than 7,500 trees, which produce a sizable amount of leaves each year. The Plant Operations Grounds Department at Vanderbilt collects leaf and other grounds-keeping waste from campus to compost at an on-site location off of Natchez Trace resulting in about 9,000 cubic feet of compost annually. The mature leaf litter compost is later used to fertilize Vanderbilt grounds. Plant Operations staff regularly turn the leaf waste pile with a front-end loader to allow maximum exposure to oxygen. Spreading compost helps to revitalize plants and trees in urban settings. Read more about how Vanderbilt uses its abundance of leaves to nurture and protect the trees on campus here.

Computer and Electronics Waste

The Vanderbilt Electronics Recycling Program is a mechanism for disposing of equipment such as monitors, CPUs, keyboards, printers, fax machines, and other electronic equipment such as TVs and even microwaves. All items are accepted regardless of functionality, age, or condition.

  1. If the equipment has stored data such as a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, etc., it should have hard drives cleaned of all personal and confidential information prior to requesting a surplus collection. VUIT provides Scrubbing Tools to assist with this process.
  2. If the electronics were purchased with grant funds, the department must contactthe Office of Contract and Grant Accounting (, 615-343-6655) to determine whether the electronics are owned by Vanderbilt. Even if the electronics are not owned by Vanderbilt, they should still be handled appropriately satisfying all EPA and TDEC regulatory requirements. OGCA or the granting organization can give written/email permission to the surplus team to surplus the electronics. If the electronics are owned by Vanderbilt, then proceed to step 3.
  3. If the electronics are a tracked asset/capital equipment (initial purchase value of $5,000 or more), a Property Transmittal Form (PTF) must be completed by the department that owns the property. The PTF should then be sent to VU Finance and SEMO (scan and email to and
  4. If the electronics are not a tracked asset OR after the Property Transmittal Form has been approved by VU Finance, call Service Information Systems (SIS) at 615-343-9675 or fill out a Facility Request Form to request a collection of electronic for recycling. All electronics recycling collections are completed at no cost.

Why can’t I just throw my old computer and electronics equipment in the dumpster?

Some electronic equipment contains levels of heavy metals that could leach out and contaminate water supplies if placed in an ordinary landfill. Environmental laws forbid this equipment from being disposed of as ordinary trash. Vanderbilt requires that all computers must be processed through the electronics recycling program (Vanderbilt Procurement Policies and Procedures: Surplus Property on page 38).

What happens to the equipment?

If the equipment is in good working condition, it will be redistributed, sold, or donated, if possible. If the equipment is unusable, it is shipped to an electronics recycling facility that disassembles or shreds the electronics, segregates the parts, and recycles the materials.

Ink and Toner Cartridge Recycling

Vanderbilt and Guy Brown are pleased to offer recycling for copier, fax, laser and ink jet toner cartridges, as well as old cell phones, at Vanderbilt University. Drop-off locations have been established at the following locations:

  • Commons Center, Kissam Center, and Sarratt Student Center main desks
  • Kennedy Center (ride the elevator to the bottom floor)
  • Peabody Library; Medical Research Building III (MRBIII) – 3rd floor lobby Baker Building Lobby
  • Commodore Concierge locations in VUMC (Medical Center North main lobby, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital second floor off sky-bridge from the South Garage)

Guy Brown will donate equal portions of the proceeds from recycling these items to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Susan Gray School, and the Work/Life Connections Faculty and Staff Hardship Fund. Simply take your copier, fax, laser, and ink jet toner cartridges or bottles and your old cell phones and PDAs, regardless of brand or where they were purchased, to the recycling location nearest you! Vanderbilt-issued smart phones and PDAs should be wiped of all information prior to recycling.

Confidential Paper Recycling

To securely dispose of confidential documents, Vanderbilt contracts with Shred-It to recycle paper once it has been shredded to destroy confidential information. To set up a new account or schedule a service with Shred-It contact Christopher Hendrickson (

Light Bulb Recycling

Because CFLs contain mercury, they are hazardous when broken. Therefore, it is especially important to not throw them away when they are at the end of their lifetime. Take them to 125 Bryan Building, or 117 Peabody Maintenance and they will be recycled for you (map of locations here). Due to concerns regarding breakage, do not send them in campus mail! Please hand-deliver. Place the CFL in a sealed plastic bag or a Ziploc-type baggie prior to coming to the drop-off location in the event that the bulb is dropped during delivery. Small light bulbs can be picked up with waste via Vanderbilt’s Waste Collection Form through the normal waste collection process.

Pens and Mechanical Pencils

The Newell Rubbermaid Company and TerraCycle have partnered with Vanderbilt to implement a writing pen recycling drive in order to capture the pen barrels that get thrown away when a cartridge is out of ink. Just use your Campus Mail envelopes to send your empty pen or mechanical pencil barrels to RECYCLING c/o 125 Bryan Building. You can also drop off pens and mechanical pencils at the Sarratt, Kissam, and Commons Center main desks (map of locations here). The pens are stored in a bucket until it is time to send off a full box to TerraCycle. Any name‐brand pen or mechanical pencil will be accepted in this program.

1. Where do I recycle if I live in residential housing?

Residential housing recycling stations are located next to the solid waste containers (dumpsters) closest to your building. Each station has containers for recycling of plastic, aluminum, and paper, and some have cardboard. If your area does not have a cardboard recycling bin, you are welcome to leave it FLATTENED in the enclosed recycling area. Recycled material is picked up from these locations and delivered to the university recycling center by student workers. Please see the Residential Recycling page. Each residential room is eligible to have one recycling container for collecting items to take to the residential recycling stations. If you do not have a recycling container and would like one, please contact your Area Maintenance Supervisor.

2. Where do I recycle in a Vanderbilt administrative or academic building?

Most of our campus buildings now have recycling containers at central locations. The most common locations are hallways, copy/mail rooms and break rooms. 3. If I am in a University-owned building, what do I do if I want to get recycling started in my building, area or department? If you are in a University Central campus building, contact Vanderbilt’s Recycling Manager in Plant Operations at 343-2784 (34-EARTH). For information concerning recycling in all other areas, contact the Recycling Manager at 343-2784.

3. If I am in a University-owned building, what do I do if I want to get recycling started in my building, area or department?

If you are in a University Central campus building, contact Vanderbilt’s Recycling Manager in Plant Operations at 343-2784 (34-EARTH). For information concerning recycling in all other areas, contact the Recycling Manager at 343-2784.

4. What happens to my recycling at VU?

The recycling is picked up from your building or the residential halls’ outdoor recycling locations and taken to the recycling center located on Peabody campus behind the Commons Center, on Appleton Drive. The recycling center consists of several containers for separated recycled material. From this location the recycling is picked up by Waste Management and it is transported to the Recycle America Rivergate and River Hills recycling facilities in Nashville. At the River Hills facility, plastic bottles, metal cans, and aluminum cans (also known as used beverage containers, or UBCs) are compacted and baled together to make a bale of mixed recyclables. The mixed bales are shipped to the Recycle America facility in New Albany, Indiana (a suburb of Louisville, KY). The New Albany facility accepts mixed bales from several Recycle America facilities; these bales are broken apart, sorted by commodity, and sold to beverage container manufacturers and metal recyclers. Cardboard, standard office paper (SOP), and mixed paper are shipped directly to regional paper mills. The returns earned from this venture go back into paying for the recycling program. Watch these videos to learn more about what happens to Vanderbilt’s recyclables once they leave campus!

5. How do I get to the Peabody Recycling Center on Appleton Drive?

From 21st Avenue South, take Edgehill Avenue east. Pass both legs of Magnolia Circle, then turn right onto Appleton Drive, just before the VU Child Care center. (If you’ve reached 18th Avenue South, you’ve gone too far.) The recycling center is on Appleton Drive just behind the Commons Center. It is open for everyone in the VU community (Students and Employees) to use at all times. View a map to the Peabody Recycling Center on Appleton Drive. You can also access an interactive map of Vanderbilt’s campus to locate the Peabody Recycling Center.

6. What do I do when my recycling is overflowing in an academic/administrative building?

Buildings that are participating in the recycling program are scheduled for pick-up on a cyclic basis, based on the volume of recyclables they produce. Your building may already be scheduled for pick up on that day. If it is not, please call 34-EARTH and ask if your building is scheduled for recycling soon. You may ask for an extra pick up.

7. Why should I recycle?

Fiscally, it costs the University more money to dispose of garbage/ton than recycling/ton. Also, the University receives rebates for recyclable goods. Civically, it is a responsible way to keep the landfill in our area from filling up. Environmentally, it is an easy way to help protect the finite resources of our planet. Thanks for your efforts!

8. Where do I recycle _______?

Specialized items recycling information, including batteries, CFLs, electronics, confidential papers, ink pens, and mechanical pencils, can be found above, under “Specialized Recycling”.

9. Does recycling save energy?

Yes! Making aluminum from recycled cans requires 93% less energy than making aluminum from new minerals. Newsprint made from old newspapers requires 46% less energy to make than newsprint made from wood. Many people ask about the energy used by trucks to collect recyclables. Compared to the energy saved when the recyclables are turned into new products, collection trucks use relatively little energy. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality estimates that industrial energy savings from residential curbside recyclables are 72 times greater than the energy used to collect them from our homes. (Source: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Solid Waste Policy & Program Development)

10. Who do I contact for chemical waste collection?

For questions about chemical waste collection, visit the VEHS website.

11. I’m interested in volunteering with Recycling, how can I help out?

There are many ways to get involved with recycling on Vanderbilt’s campus. Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR) coordinates recycling initiatives throughout the year including Cardboard Crew at Move-In, Game Day recycling at all home football games and Late Night Rites of Spring Recycling. If you are interested in getting involved email SPEAR.

12. Can I recycle ________?

Every recycling system has different rules about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for recycling. If you have a question about whether or not a particular item is recyclable on campus you can refer to the What We Recycle page. If you are still unsure, feel free to contact or 34-EARTH (3-2784).

The Vanderbilt University ReUse Surplus Program manages unneeded items owned by Vanderbilt University departments, offices, and laboratories. ReUse Surplus cannot legally accept VUMC items, please contact VUMC Storage and Services at 615-936-4626 for instructions on how your surplus should be managed.


All surplus property must follow the Vanderbilt Procurement Policies and Procedures (“Surplus Property” on page 38).

To send items to surplus, follow the steps below:

Download the flowchart and surplus flyer here.

  1. If the surplus item is a biological safety cabinet (BSC), laboratories must follow the instructions on the VEHS Biological Safety Website to relocate or surplus a biological safety cabinet. Complete decontamination, then affix the decontamination report to the equipment prior to requesting surplus removal.
  2. If the surplus item is not a BSC but was previously used for the processing or holding of biological materials, laboratories must follow the instructions on the VEHS Biological Lab Equipment Release form. Complete decontamination, then affix the form to the equipment prior to requesting surplus removal.
  3. If the surplus item has stored data i.e. a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, etc., consider removing or cleaning hard drives prior to requesting surplus removal. Any hard drives remaining are physically destroyed off-site by a contracted vendor.
  4. If the surplus item is capital equipment, a tracked asset, or has an asset tag (i.e. initial purchase value of $5,000 or more), a Property Transmittal Form (PTF) must be completed. Send the PTF to VU Finance and ReUse Surplus (email to and
  5. If you use an outside moving company such as Alexander’s, please call 615-343-2784 or email to schedule a delivery day and time as the new surplus location is not staffed throughout the workday. One hour notice is needed for deliveries to ensure ReUse Surplus staff can meet the moving truck.
  6. To request surplus removal, fill out a Facilities Service Request form, an AiM work order (if you are approved to do so), or call Plant Operations Service Information Systems (SIS) at 615.343.9675. Individual departments will not be charged for surplus removal.

Please contact the ReUse Surplus Program with questions at or 615-343-2784 (34E.ARTH).


Central storage is not offered for departments due to space limitations on campus. A list of approved turnkey storage vendors with rates negotiated for VU that will collect your items, provide storage, and then deliver the items back to you when needed is below:

Please contact the ReUse Surplus Program with questions at or 615-343-2784 (34E.ARTH).