Recycling at the U

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities (TC) Recycling Program is nationally recognized for innovation and excellence. Waste on campus is collected in four streams: paper, cans & bottles, organics, and trash. Paper and cans & bottles are brought to the University of Minnesota’s Materials Recovery Facility where the recyclables are hand-sorted and sold to be manufactured into new products. Organics are brought to an industrial compost site in Rosemount, MN. Trash is disposed of at the HERC, a waste-to-energy facility in Minneapolis. 

You can help!

All University community members - faculty, staff, students and visitors - have a vital role in recycling on campus. Check out the recycling video below where Goldy Gopher shows us what belongs in each waste stream.  

Waste Reduction

In FY2019, about 40% of the 7,775.8 tons of municipal solid waste generated on campus was recycled or composted. 

UMN Recycling Recovery Rate
2005-2019 waste

Recycling Resources

If you aren’t sure how to sort your waste in each bin, that’s okay. We have resources available to help you learn.

Quad System Recycling Guide

Organics Roll Out: Find information regarding the implementation of campus-wide organics collection. 

Recycling Guide PDF: A PDF version of the recycling guide pictured below. 

Recycling and Waste Depository Directory: A-F | G-Z: Learn how to properly dispose of waste generated on campus. 

ReUse Program: The UMN ReUse Program collects surplus office furniture, supplies, and equipment from campus and makes them available to University departments or individuals for purchase. If your department needs to dispose of still-usable items, consider ReUse as an option. The warehouse is open to shoppers on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Toward Zero Waste

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities long-term goal is to divert 90% of its municipal solid waste from the HERC. To reach this goal, nearly all waste generated on campus needs to be recyclable, compostable, or reusable. Here are some ways you can help move our campus toward zero waste: 

  • The Recycling Program can help you reduce waste at your next event. If you’d like assistance, fill out the zero waste form or contact A Student Recycling Coordinator will get in touch with you to recommend compostable service ware, drop off extra bins for your event, and even monitor the bins day-of if requested in advance. 
  • Swap out single-use disposable plates, cups, cutlery, coffee pods, and other breakroom items with certified compostable alternatives. Encourage staff and students to bring their own reusable service ware. 
  • Host an informational recycling presentation to help your team successfully sort their waste. Contact to schedule a recycling presentation.

Campus Support for Waste Recovery Initiatives 

In 2017, two University Senate Resolutions supporting campus-wide organics collection and improved waste recovery passed. These resolutions reflect the hard work and advocacy of students, staff, and faculty invested in the sustainability of UMN Twin Cities. 

Centralized Collection Resolution

  • Over the next two years, centralized waste collection will be implemented campus-wide. This means that individuals will sort their waste into central waste stations. Custodians will service the central waste stations rather than individual deskside containers. 
  • Our studies have shown that recovery rates increase to 65% when sorting is put into the hands of the generator. Centralized collection also helps offset the extra time required to service organics bins daily. 

Compostable Food Vendor Wares Resolution 

  • Food vendors and caterers working on campus are encouraged to use compostable or reusable food service ware. Eliminating disposable service ware promotes the diversion of organics materials from the trash stream.
  • In accordance with this resolution, M Food Co. and Sky Lakes Catering have swapped much of their disposable service ware with compostable alternatives.