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Despite its mainstream advocacy, recycling is still difficult. Can I recycle this? Can I mix these recyclables? There’s a lot of uncertainty. Let me break it down for you.


Lafayette uses a single-stream recycling system, meaning recyclable types can be mixed. Unless specified, your bottles, cans, cardboard, and plastic can all be placed in the same bin. In addition to your normal recycling, there are many other recycling initiatives on campus. There are recycling spots(including ones in Farinon, Acopian, and Pardee) that collect ink cartridges, batteries, and pens. Some female dorm bathrooms have places to recycle cosmetic packaging. In Lower’s dining space, there’s even a chip bag dropoff. These are just a few of the ways you can reduce your waste on campus.


The main problem with recycling is contamination when non-recyclables and unclean recyclables make their way into the system. When contaminated, a whole batch of recyclables could potentially be thrown away instead. To prevent this, you should be conscious of what is recyclable. If you’re unsure, the best bet is to just throw it away (“When in doubt, throw it out”). To help out, here’s a basic list of what can be recycled on campus:


  • Any dry paper product- IT CAN NOT HAVE FOOD RESIDUE! This is very important. Pizza boxes, paper plates, and napkins are NOT recyclable. You can and should recycle old notebooks (if spiral bound, take out the metal ring), cardboard boxes, newspapers, and envelopes. Surprisingly, you can leave papers stapled.
  • Any plastic labeled #1-7 - just make sure you empty and rinse the plastic. If you do not rinse the plastic, there is a chance the food residue can contaminate other recyclables, like paper. Bottle caps should be left off. Examples of recyclable plastics: any plastic container from the dining halls, beverage bottles, soap bottles, and red solo cups!
  • Glass bottles that are clear, green, or brown- for some reason, other colors are not recyclable. 
  • Cans and aluminum foil - Same as the plastic, make sure the cans and foil are rinsed before recycling. The best way to get rid of alcoholic beverage cans is to recycle!
  • Plastic bags- Lafayette does not have recycling for plastic bags, but you can donate them to the Bags to Bed initiative on campus. Bags to Beds makes sleeping mats for the homeless out of plastic bags! You can deposit your bags in any of the collection sites, or outside the sustainability office in RISC. If you would rather recycle the bags, bring them to Target, Giant, or any other shop with a plastic bag recycling program.


I hope this small guide helps, and hopefully, together we can make smart recycling choices. For more information on Lafayette’s recycling program, here’s a useful link: https://sustainability.lafayette.edu/recycling/

Anna DiFelice

Lafayette '24

Sophomore studying Chemical Engineering at Lafayette!
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