recycling bin

Minimizing Waste

Waste Minimization and Recycling at Penn

Waste and recycling are areas where your personal choices can make a difference.

Penn’s Division of Facilities & Real Estate Services is in the process of implementing a campus-wide Solid Waste Management Plan. This Plan provides a prioritized list of initiatives to help the University in achieving the Climate Action Plan goals. The Plan addresses management of the five common waste streams on campus described below.  To download the featured waste pictograms and find additional information on waste management visit Facilities & Real Estate Services.

Landfill Trash

Waste that cannot be diverted through one of the other waste streams. Includes Styrofoam, and (when composting is not available) food waste and food-soiled paper/plastics.

Single-stream Recycling

Glass, plastic, metal, paper, plastic bags and wrapping and cardboard.  Rinse plastic food containers and empty liquids from bottles before placing in the bin.


All food waste and leaves.                               


Universal Waste

“E-waste” - electronic equipment such as computers, peripherals, monitors, alkaline and lithium batteries, cell phones, charging cords, etc.



Miscellaneous Waste

Shoes, textbooks, writing utensils, etc. See our Special Recycling and Reuse Collections page for more information.


The creation of a Solid Waste Management Plan is important as the University continues implementing the Climate Action Plan, as it will:

  • Establish a comprehensive campus-wide waste reduction and recycling policy
  • Enable proper waste reduction and recycling practices through education and communication efforts, events and competitions, and improved transparency of the campus collection system
  • Expand the University’s focus beyond recycling by championing green purchasing practices, composting efforts, local food investments, and source reduction initiatives