Recycling Guidelines

What you can recycle at home might be different than at Wesleyan, but what's recyclable is the same across Connecticut.  Click the expandable links below to learn more about recycling or download a printable recycling/compost handout.  

To learn more about how recycling on campus works, visit our waste management page.

Recycle CT App

Recycle CT, Connecticut's go-to recycling resource, has just released an app, which makes it easier for you to see at a glance what is recyclable. Try it out!

What Can I Recycle?

  • Paper and Cardboard

    Can Be Recycled

    • White/colored paper (staples/tape ok), including:
      • Post-its
      • Construction paper
      • Junk mail
    • Envelopes (if you can tear it, it's recyclable), including:
      • Manila envelopes
      • Envelopes with windows 
    • Printer paper wrap
    • Magazines
    • Newspapers
    • Corrugated cardboard (wavy inner layer; trash plastic packaging)
    • Boxboard (cereal boxes, tissue boxes, egg cartons etc.; trash plastic liners)
    • Pizza boxes (clean or greasy, just eat the pizza)
    • Books (remove hard covers)
    • Coffee cup sleeves
    • Milk cartons, juice boxes, soup cartons (remove straws)

    Cannot Be Recycled 

    • Paper cups, plates, bowls, take-out containers → Usdan/Pi ones are compostable at Usdan dish return, Summerfields dish return, and outside Pi Cafe
    • Paper towels and napkins (even if unused) → compost brown ones in dorm/residential composting and at Usdan dish return, Summerfields dish return, and outside Pi Cafe 
    • Tissues
    • Ice cream cartons 
    • Bubble envelopes (Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS, etc. - if you can't tear it easily, you can't recycle it)
    • Glossy/photo paper
    • Paper with crayon/poster paint
    • Shredded paper → recycle via ProSHRED in offices
    • Wrapping paper
    • Gift bags
    • Tissue paper
  • Plastic

    Can Be Recycled

    *NOTE: please empty, wipe out, and leave lids on.

    • Bottles (drinks, condiments, shampoo, lotion, detergent, etc.)
    • Tubs (yogurt, snack, take-out containers, Tupperware, etc.)
    • Jars (peanut butter, mayo, etc.)
    • Cups (includes Solo cups, NO Pi/Usdan cups)
    • Large hard plastic items (laundry baskets, milk crates, plastic bins, etc.)
    • Milk cartons, juice boxes, soup cartons

    Cannot Be Recycled

    • Plastic bags (shopping bags, zip-lock bags, box liners, bubble wrap, plastic wrap) → recycle at stores
    • Styrofoam® (cups, containers, packing peanuts, etc.)
    • Cutlery (forks, spoons, knives - they're too small and fall through the cracks of the recycling machines)
    • Straws & stirrers
    • Plates & bowls
    • "Greenware" and other compostable bioplastics → compost these at Usdan dish return, Summerfields dish return, and outside Pi Cafe)
    • Black plastic containers 
    • Prescription bottles (they're too small and fall through the cracks of the recycling machines)
    • Loose bottle caps and small lids 
    • Bubble envelopes (Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS, etc. - if you can't tear it easily you can't recycle it)
    • K-cup coffee pods → recycle in offices via WB Mason
  • Glass

    Can Be Recycled

    *NOTE: please empty, wipe out, and leave lids on

    • Food and drink bottles and jars
    • Larger pieces of glass 

    Cannot Be Recycled

    • Pyrex dishes
    • Small broken pieces of glass
    • Light bulbs → CFLs and LEDs are recyclable in the green bins in Usdan and Exley lobbies
  • Metal

    Can Be Recycled

    *NOTE: please empty, wipe out, and leave lids on (if applicable). 

    • Drink and food cans
    • Aluminum food containers
    • Aluminum foil (clean)
    • Aerosol cans (food only)

    Cannot Be Recycled 

    • Non-food aerosol cans
    • Small pieces of foil (like yogurt lids or K-Cup lids)
    • Scrap metal (pots, pans, notebook spirals, etc.)
    • Wrappers (chips, candy, etc.)

Speciality Recycling

Speciality recycling, also referred to as "other recycling" and "terarecyling," are specific recycling programs brought to campus so we can recycle things not accepted by CT recycling. There are several different versions of these programs in several different places around campus. Refer to below about where you can find these programs.
  • Small Electronics and Batteries
    In Exley Science Center (outside of Pi Cafe) and at the Center for Film Studies you can recycle small electronics. This includes:
    • Batteries 
    • CDs, DVDs, and cassette tapes
    • Cell phones
    • Compact fluorescent light bulbs
    • Small electronics
    • String/holiday lights


     In the Campus Store inside Usdan you can recycle 

    • Batteries 
  • Plastic Items Unaccepted by CT Recycling
    In Exley Science Center (outside of Pi Cafe) and at the Center for Film Studies you can recycle "unusual" plastics, including:
    • Ink cartridges
    • Writing utensils (all pens, pencils, markers, and highlighters)
    • Plastic bags or other "filmy" plastics - recycle in "Trex" box next to green bin


    In Usdan you can recycle 

    • Plastic bags - recycle in "Trex" box in Usdan basement by the mail window
    • K-Cup (Coffee Pod) Recycling Boxes are available at WesStation (contact Anika Dane with any questions)
    • Solo cups - recycle in the Campus Store 
    • Writing utensils (all pens, pencils, markers, and highlighters) - recycle in the Campus Store

    *Bubblewrap and packing peanuts can be donated/reused via Freecycle


  • Personal Care Products
    In dorm bathrooms (or campus mail to Jen Kleindienst, 170 Long Lane) you can recycle"
    • Oral care waste
      • Empty toothpaste tubes
      • Empty floss containers
      • Used toothbrushes
      • Toothbrush/floss packaging
    • Hair and skin care packaging
      • Empty tubes of lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and other skin/hair care products
      • Empty packets of wipes (makeup remover, etc.)
      • Empty hair spray containers
      • Empty cosmetics packaging (lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, nail polish, etc.)


    At the Campus Store in Usdan, you can recycle 

    • Toothbrushes 
    • Toothpaste tubes
    • Razors
  • Hardware and Hardware-esq Things

     Contact Bill Nelligan in Facilities to recycle any of the following:

    • Aerosol cans containing hazardous substances (paint, other chemicals))
    • Large electronics
    • Fluorescent light bulbs
    • Ink cartridges
    • Motor oil
    • Scrap metal
  • Disposable Masks
    Outside of WesThrift in the basement of the COE (284 High St) and/or outside of Pi Cafe in Exley Science Center
  • Textiles, Clothes, and Shoes
    Textiles and wearable shoes:
    • Bring all to WesThrift!
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters donation bins are in L lot by Butterfield A, in High/Low Rise parking lot, and at the Hewitt Circle
    • Each May, Goodwill bins are set up campuswide for textile, shoe, and small household item collection


    Unwearable clothing, shoes, and accessories:

    • Simple Recycling collects from all sites that have curbside access (woodframe neighborhoods, program houses). Schedule a pick up, clearly mark any bag with "Simple Recycling" and put bags by the front door by 7am on your pick up date.  
  • Books
    If you no longer have need for a book, book donation is a way to extend its life or to recycle it responsibly.
    • Russell Library collects books in good condition for resale to raise funds for the library. 
    • Better World Books is a certified B-Corporation and a for-profit global e-retailer that collects and sells books online matching each purchase with a book donation to someone in need.  If you have a donation of 20 or more of the below items, contact the Sustainability Office at to receive Better World Books shipping box(es) and pre-paid shipping label(s). A BWB box holds approximately 20-30 books. BWB collects the following items:
      • Antiquarian, Rare and Collectible Books (ex: Special Collections)
      • Children’s Books
      • College Textbooks (within the past 10 years)
      • Foreign Language Books (in the Latin alphabet)
      • Hardcover Fiction and Nonfiction
      • Mass Market and Trade Paperbacks
      • CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs
      • Books on CD
      • Video Games
    • Discover Books diverts books from landfills, helps fund library sustainability and provides meaningful solutions to the global problem of illiteracy. Discover Books accepts any and all books via a pickup system.  If you have a large quantity of books (more than 10 boxes, in any receptacle) to donate to Discover Books, you can arrange for a curbside pickup. Please contact the Sustainability Office at to organize a pickup.

Have a question about an item that's not on this list? Visit or email

Want a recycling bin for your dorm/house?

You can now check out recycling bins for the year from WesThrift, the same way you would check out a book for a month from Olin! Come by WesThrift (in the basement of the COE, @284 High St.) during our open hours (MWF 12:00-1:30pm) and ask to check out a recycling bin! For more information, refer to WesThrift's Rental Project.