Waste and Recycling

UCalgary strives to become a zero waste community. 

All Waste Has Its Place

Achieving our waste diversion goal is a community effort. Nearly 90 per cent of the daily waste we produce can be recycled or composted if placed in the correct bin. Currently, more than half is going to the landfill. By properly sorting your recycling and waste, you are helping keep UCalgary green as we strive to be a zero-waste community. 

No more hunting for the right bin to dispose of your waste – UCalgary has implemented four-stream waste stations with bins for compost, mixed recycling, refundable beverage containers and trash across campus. Everyone can help sort it out by using the bins to properly dispose of waste. 

UCalgary took further steps along this journey by implementing standardized washroom bins across campus for disposal of paper towels only. This initiative enables the university to compost paper towel waste from our washrooms and ensures waste reduction continues to be a priority.

Know what goes where and get garbage out of the landfill by using the recycling, compost and trash bins correctly.

Textile, battery and ink toner recylcing

Towards a Zero Waste Community

UCalgary is in the process of developing a Zero Waste strategy. This document provides clear objectives and operational procedures that focus on improving reducing, reusing and recycling practices. Our vision is to become a zero waste leader across Canada’s post-secondary institutions, for waste minimization and diversion.

Waste avoidance, reduction, diversion and repurposing has come to the forefront and is now a global priority. A call to action is paramount to address environmental and human health problems associated with waste pollution and the harmful effects of single-use items. Increasingly, governments at various levels are introducing reduction strategies single-use items, and some are calling for outright bans. Globally, in 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a robust set of goals and actions to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030”. As the University continues to align with current market and political drivers in an ever-changing landscape, this strategy provides a path to conform to new standards and regulatory requirements.

Help Sort It Out. What Goes Where?

Waste Bins

Trash

  • Plastic grocery bags, coloured plastic bags and black plastic items go in the trash even if they have #1-7 recycling symbols. 
  • Cellophane wrappers, chip bags and plastics that don't stretch go in the trash.
  • Straws and beverage cup lids go in the trash; separate recyclable cups and dispose of them in the mixed recycling bin, or the composting bin if they are compostable (BPI certifed - not biodegradable).
  • Miscellaneous plastics like plastic cutlery and used pens go in the trash.
  • Latex gloves also go in the trash.

Refundable Beverage Containers

  • Aluminum cans, plastic and glass drink containers are all refundable.
  • Milk and juice cartons, along with tetrapacks and drink pouches, also go in the refundable beverage containers bin.
  • The Students’ Union (SU) administers the collection of refundable beverage containers on campus. The collection draws about $40,000 in revenue annually and is used to employ nine part-time special needs staff and nine case workers from the Developmental Disabilities Resources Centre of Calgary.
  • Emptying containers before you recycle helps keep the bins clean and pest free.

Mixed Recyclables

  • All clear plastic containers with recycling symbols #1-7 count as mixed recyclables. Black plastic items, even those with #1-7 symbols, go in the trash. 
  • Disposable (empty) coffee and beverage cups can go in the mixed recyclables bin, but lids must go in the trash. 
  • Clear plastic bags (like sandwich bags) and any clear plastic that stretches, like cling film, can be recycled; plastic wrappers that don’t stretch are likely cellophane and go in the trash. Plastic grocery bags go in the trash.
  • Paper, cardboard and non-refundable glass containers go in the mixed recyclables bin.
  • Empty your containers of leftover food and drink as best possible into the compost bin before recycling; you do not need to wash containers to recycle.

Compostables

  • Compostable food/plant waste includes: meat, fruits and vegetables, flowers, dairy, egg shells, grains, nuts and flour; coffee grinds and tea bags and bones, fat trimmings, oil and grease are also compostable.
  • Used paper towels and napkins, wet/soiled cardboard and paper products are compostable (like pizza boxes); even wooden chopsticks can go in the compostables bin.
  • Don't forget to compost your food container at MacHall; all vendors use compostable clamshell containers.
  • Compostable cutlery goes in the compostables bins, but plastic cutlery goes in the trash.
  • Forty-three per cent of our landfill materials are comprised of organic food waste that could be composted.

Waste and recycling at UCalgary

Take Action


Reusable Mug

Enjoy your coffee from a reusable mug and get a discount at participating campus vendors.

Waste Bin

No waste bin in your classroom or conference room? Find a nearby four-stream waste bin and help us sort it out!

Campus Surplus Sale

Surplus Sales are every second Friday of the month from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the General Services Building. Inventory: audio visual equipment, desks, chairs, computer monitors and more.

Learn more

Textbook Consignment

Help your old textbooks find a new home with Bound and Copied's book consignment service.

Learn more

Questions about UCalgary waste and recycling? Contact the Sustainability Resource Centre