Recycling & Waste Minimization

Recycling Overview

Recycling Overview

How Recycling Works

How Recycling Works at UIC

UIC recycles paper seperately

Recyclable Materials

Great Stuff Exchange

Great Stuff Exchange

Lab Share




How Signage Effects Recycling

Recycling Research












  • Watch our recycling Video!

    Watch our recycling video!

    The average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash per day, adding to the grand total of about 251 million tons of trash the United States accumulates per year.

    The goal of the UIC Recycling Program, empowered by the Illinois Solid Waste Management Act is to minimize waste by encouraging the conservation of resources.  Our priorities, as a campus, are to:



    Reduce the waste we produce by choosing materials wisely
    Reuse what we have already by considering new roles for unwanted material
    Recycle what must be thrown away, and minimize material bound for landfill


    The Recycling Program, coordinated by the Office of Sustainability, collaborates with the Student Centers, Athletic Facilities, Campus Housing, and the Transportation Department to increase opportunities to recycle while raising awareness of environmental issues on campus.

    Last year, we recycled nearly 3,500 tons of paper, plastic, metal and glass with an overall recycling rate of 46%. Additionally, we saved over 42,000 trees by recycling- just in one year alone!


    Contact Us



    Please leave us a message via phone or email and we will respond to your request within 2 business days.

    • Yes! I am a human!

      Too many robots are breaking in to our website, so we need you to prove that you are a real-live human by filling in the box below. After all, we only respond to human-based recycling requests. We figure that robots can fix their own recycling problems!


    It begins when the materials available for use on campus are chosen based on compatibility within our recycling program. If an item (for example, Styrofoam cups) is provided for use on campus, it is everyone’s responsibility to ask why it was chosen in the first place. Watch how Joe Iosbaker, UIC Recycling Coordinator, explains the recycling system in this short video.





    Deskside Recycling

    The seven-gallon recycling containers and hanging “side saddles” are provided in offices. In the residence halls there is other equipment in individual rooms or common areas. Students, faculty, and office staff are expected to empty these when full. This means you must carry your trash and recyclables to nearby stations and separate them into the appropriate bins. Cardboard should be flattened and placed behind the hallway bins.

    Hallway Recycling

    These Recycling Stations usually consist of three bins (Paper; Glass, Metal & Plastic; and Landfill) and are located at set intervals throughout hallways and larger common areas in most buildings, with easy access from deskside unit locations. Building Service Workers (BSWs) empty these stations regularly and move the contents to a central collection point.

    UIC Building Service Workers & Transportation Department

    Central Collection Points can be large dumpsters or smaller “totes” where recyclable materials from an entire building (or cluster of buildings) are stored; Recycling Truck drivers will empty these points during the week on a scheduled or as-needed basis.

    Sorting & Processing

    These organizations that collect or process material collected or hauled by UIC Recycling:

    • Loop Paper Recycling, Inc. at 2401 S. Laflin receives sorts and processes paper, metals, plastics and glass from UIC.
      • Recyclables are dumped on to the sorting floor and then spread out by a wheel loader
      • The load is evaluated and given a grade of recyclable content
      • Contents are then pushed by the wheel loader on to a conveyor belt
      • Conveyor belt lifts the recyclable material to a elevated sorting system
      • Elevated sorting system has 20 laborers (10 on each side) picking out the various commodities in the compactor load
      • Underneath the elevated sorting system are collection bins with the various commodities that have been source separated
      • The source separated commodities are then individually baled or processed.
      • Each bale of paper weighs 1500 pounds!
      • The bales or processed materials are then loaded on trailers to be transported to the recycling mills
      • Mills receive trailer loads of baled and processed material.  The baled material is then pulped and recycled into new paper commodities.
      • wheel loader conveyor baled paper
    • Recycling Systems, Inc. gets our municipal solid waste.  Their material recovery facility (MRF) is designed to accept and process commingled material.
    • Citadel is the largest of the shredding companies used by UIC departments.  It has most of the contracts at UI Hospital & Health Sciences, taking the documents with patient information.
    • Resource Center is a non-profit that hauls away the food scraps collected at our dining halls, and turns it into nutrient-packed compost used to grow delicious produce at their city farms.

    Does Signage Increase Recycling Rates?

    Can Recycling Rates Increase With Signs

    Recycling rates on campus have increased over the last 15 years, and we aim to increase those rates even more. Although 17% of our recycling is recovered via a transfer station, our hope is that recycling can increase on the individual level.

    Recycling rates fluctuate depending on the time of year, the type and size of building, the condition of the bins, and the style and design of the signs that correspond to the bins. This study asked the question, can clearer signage on recycling bins empirically effect recycling rates?

    Researching Recycling Behaviors Gives Insight

    The Office of Sustainability conducted a study to better understand UIC’s recycling behavior via surveys, waste audits, bin observations, and month-to-month recycling rates. The buildings observed in the study were a sample of our student centers, office buildings, laboratories, residence halls, and a mixed teaching/ research building.

    97% of survey respondents reported that they know it is important to recycle but only 56% felt it was easy and a mere 9% strongly agreed that they knew how to recycle.

    77% of the people expressed wanting to recycle more than they currently do.

    Recycling Plastic is Confusing at UIC

    We asked, “In what bin should you dispose certain items?”

    Food scraps and beverage containers are easy to dispose. Over 80% of survey respondents correctly identified that food scraps are to be landfilled; bottles & cans are to be recycled with glass, metal, and plastic; and office paper is to be recycled with paper.

    Most other plastics and paper products (like paper towels) are confusing. Just less than half of the survey respondents did not know how to dispose wet paper, napkins, and certain plastics.

    Polystyrene and containers with food residue boggle the mind! Less than 30% of the survey respondents know how to properly dispose these items.

    We asked, “How often do you recycle glass, metals, plastic, and paper on campus?”

    The campus community have more difficulty recycling plastics properly than they do recycling paper properly. Survey respondents also reported not knowing the “rules” of recycling in regards to plastics and their respective number categorization made it difficult to recycle plastic.

    Going Forward

    Clear signage helps recycling-conscious people to dispose items correctly, but it does not increase recycling rates on campus. We theorize that the “3-second decision time” plus buildings with high traffic are the reasons recycling rates weren’t effected by the new signage. It is highly likely that other factors like bin style, grouping, condition, and proximity will have a larger effect on the UIC recycling rate.

  • Most materials generated at UIC are recyclable and will have a second life! What makes a material “recyclable” is its structural components, as well as the status of the market of those materials. We have listed the most common materials that are recyclable on campus. If you have a question about a material not mentioned, please contact us.


    Click on a tab to learn more about the different materials that are recyclable at UIC


    Print out this poster to post near a Paper recycling bin. You may also request an already printed poster by calling 6-9817

    Print out this poster to post near a Paper recycling bin. You may also request an already printed poster by calling 6-2517

    Acceptable Papers

    • White and Colored Paper
    • Glossy Paper
    • Envelopes, including Window
    • Newspapers and Magazines
    • NCR (carbonless paper)
    • Copy-Paper Ream Wrappers
    • Post-it Notes
    • Chip Board (e.g. tissue boxes)
    • Brown Paper
    • Hard-Bound Books
    • Milk Cartons

    No Need to Remove Paper Clips, Staples or Rubber Bands!

    Unacceptable Papers

    • Food and Food Wrappers
    • Styrofoam and Paper Cups
    • Tissue Paper and Paper Towels
    • Plastic Bags
    • Carbon Paper
    • Photographic Paper
    • Coated Fax Paper
    • Plastic-Coated Paper (laminated)
    • Tyvek Plastic Envelopes
    • Mailing Envelopes with Plastic Padding

    Cardboard should be flattened and placed behind the hallway bins. Dry, clean (covered with minimal food waste) cardboard is recyclable. Pizza boxes with little or no grease/food are acceptable.

    Glass, Metal, Plastic
    Print out this poster to post near a Glass, Metal, Plastic recycling bin. You may also request an already printed poster by calling 6-9817

    Print out this poster to post near a Glass, Metal, Plastic recycling bin. You may also request an already printed poster by calling 6-9817

    Acceptable Materials

    • Aluminum Cans
    • Steel Cans
    • Plastic Bottles (numbers 1 to 5, and 7) what do these numbers mean?
    • Glass Beverage Bottles (all colors)
    • Aluminum Foil (not heavily soiled)
    • Plastic Bags and Wrap
    • Juice Boxes and Tetra Paks
    • Non-hazardous, empty chemical bottles

    Unacceptable Materials

    • Lots of liquids in Bottles
    • Styrofoam Cups and Packing
    • Test Tubes and other contaminated laboratory glassware, including Pyrex
    • Drinking Glasses
    • Broken Glass
    • Plastic Cutlery

    All About Plastics

    Many consumer products, such as  water bottles and product containers, are made from various types of plastic. The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) established a classification system in 1988 to allow consumers and recyclers to properly recycle and dispose of different types of plastic. Manufacturers follow a coding system and place an SPI code, or number, on each plastic product, which is usually molded into the bottom. Although you should always verify the plastic classification number of each product you use, this guide provides a basic outline of the different plastic types associated with each code number.

    recycle number symbols

    plastics1Plastic marked with an SPI code of 1 is made with Polyethylene Terephthalate, which is also known as PETE or PET. Containers made from this plastic sometimes absorb odors and flavors from foods and drinks that are stored in them. Items made from this plastic are commonly recycled. PETE plastic is used to make many common household items like beverage bottles, medicine jars, peanut butter jars, combs, bean bags, and rope. Recycled PETE is used to make  tote bags, carpet, fiberfill material in winter clothing, and more.




    plastics2Plastic marked with an SPI code of 2 is made with High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE. HDPE products are safe and they are not known to transmit any chemicals into foods or drinks. HDPE products are commonly recycled. Items made from this plastic include containers for milk, motor oil, shampoos and conditioners, soap bottles, detergents, and bleaches. Many toys are made from this plastic as well. (Please note: it is NEVER safe to reuse an HDPE bottle as a food or drink container if it didn’t originally contain food or drink!) Recycled HDPE is used to make plastic crates, plastic lumber, fencing, and more.




    plastics3Plastic labeled with an SPI code of 3 is made with Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC. PVC is not often recycled and it can be harmful if ingested. PVC is used for all kinds of pipes and tiles, but it’s most commonly found in plumbing pipes. This kind of plastic should not come in contact with food items. Recycled PVC is used to make flooring, mobile home skirting, and more.




    plastics4Plastic marked with an SPI code of 4 is made with Low-Density Polyethylene, or LDPE. LDPE is not commonly recycled, but it is recyclable in certain areas. It is a very healthy plastic that tends to be both durable and flexible. Plastic cling wrap, sandwich bags, squeezable bottles, and plastic grocery bags are all made from LDPE. Recycled LDPE is used to make garbage cans, lumber, furniture, and more.




    plastics5Plastic marked with an SPI code of 5 is made with Polypropylene, or PP. PP can be recycled. This type of plastic is strong and can usually withstand higher temperatures. Among many other products, it is used to make plastic diapers, Tupperware, margarine containers, yogurt boxes, syrup bottles, pipette tip boxes, prescription bottles, and some  stadium cups. Plastic bottle caps are often made from PP as well. Recycled PP is used to make ice scrapers, rakes, battery cables, and more.




    plastics6Plastic marked with an SPI code of 6 is made with Polystyrene, also known as PS and most commonly known as Styrofoam. It can be recycled, but it is difficult to do so and often ends up in landfills anyway. Disposable  coffee cups, plastic food boxes, plastic cutlery, packing foam, and packing peanuts are made from PS. Recycled PS is used to make insulation, license plate frames, rulers, and more. At UIC, we cannot accept #6 plastics into our recycling program, and they must be disposed of in the landfill. We encourage the reuse of these plastics before disposal.



    plastics7The SPI code of 7 is used to designate miscellaneous types of plastic that are not defined by the other six codes. Polycarbonate and Polylactide are included in this category. These types of plastics are difficult to recycle. Polycarbonate, or PC, is used in baby bottles, large water bottles (multiple-gallon capacity), compact discs, and medical storage containers. Recycled plastics in this category are used to make plastic lumber, among other products.




    Consumers can make better plastic-purchasing decisions if they understand SPI codes and potential health hazards of each plastic, and recyclers can more effectively separate plastics into categories. Always check a product’s classification code prior to recycling it or re-using it. It’s important to stay educated about plastic classification numbers and plastic types; remember, informed consumers can demand that plastics manufacturers provide better products.



    Campus Electronic Recycling Collection (CERC)

    Surplus computers collected at an electronics recycling event. UIC collected 88 tons of unusable electronic equipment in 2012. Photo: Timothy Nguyen/UIC News - See more at:

    Surplus computers collected at an electronics recycling event. UIC recycles over 6,900 electronic items annually! Photo: Timothy Nguyen/UIC News

    UIC recycles electronics separately from the normal recycling.  Any equipment belonging to the university must be disposed of in accordance with the OBFS Equipment Disposal Methods. Additional information about the disposal of equipment as scrap or surplus can be found within the OBFS Equipment Management webpages. Questions may be directed to the Property Accounting & Reporting Office or 312-996-2858.

    However, at least once a year, the Office of Sustainability organizes a Campus Electronics Recycling Collection (CERC) Program that centralizes the collection. All you need to do is fill out the associated paperwork, bring your item, along with a hard copy printout of the Property Accounting approved FABWEB disposal request, and we take care of the rest! Typically, we host CERC twice in September – one on East Campus, and one on West Campus. Check our events page to find when the next event will be!

    To surplus or scrap equipment, you will have to supply the approved FABweb surplus disposal request. For Disposal form questions, contact Janet Ayers at 312-996-2858 or Juana Rodriguez at 312-996-7321


    Additional notes on equipment:

    • Data-containing devices sent to CRS are sanitized according to NIST 800-88 and Department of Defense standards
    • Monitors are accepted at CERC, but departments are billed for recycling those.
    • A hard drive and a monitor must be listed separately, in case a department wants one and not the other.
    • Cords, chargers, cables, keyboards and mice should be boxed together and listed separately from the hard drive or monitor. However, power supplies should remain with laptops.
    • Data on hard drives must be overwritten or “scrubbed” and all equipment with a hard drive must be labeled with a “scrubbed” sticker.  If not, then someone in Property Accounting will have to degauss.
    • We recommend that you sanitize your hard disk drive prior to donating your device. If your device is running MS Windows, you can use Active@ ERASER 4.1 which is freely available via, or by clicking this direct link. If your device is running Mac OS you can use Disk Utility.
    • No televisions, no microwaves.


    Personal Electronics

    During the CERC events, we except personal electronics, such as cell phones, printers, etc. Check the latest CERC event to confirm.



    UIC is recycling batteries, including alkaline, lithium, nickel cadmium, and zinc carbon. The batteries are collected by the Office of Sustainability (OS), Environmental Services (EVS) in the Hospital, and Facilities Management (FM). EVS and FM cover the costs to ship them to the recycling vendors.

    Departments and individuals that wish to recycle their alkaline batteries must bring them to:

    East Side of Campus

    University Hall, First Floor Lobby

    Education and Social Work Building (ETMSW), Copy Room 3341

    Behavioral Sciences Building, BSB, by the lounge in the hallway near Harrison Street entrance.

    Science Engineering South, SES, Science Learning Center, Room 201,

    Science Engineering Offices, SEO, North Entrance Vestibule of (by the vending machines)

    Burnham Hall, UIC Honors College

    Grant Hall, Writing Center, Room 105

    Physical Plant Building (PPB), 1140 S. Morgan is the final collection point for battery recycling as the administration there ships the batteries to the recycler. When the battery collection is full in one of the collection areas, you can arrange to have the batteries picked up by calling Gabriel Bernal, Assistant Director for Building Operations at 996-5913 or 312-718-6663 (cell). If you want to drop batteries off at the PPB, the batteries are collected in two blue barrels. To locate them, enter at the dock door, and go past PPMD.

    Student Centers

    Student Centers have purchased new cabinets, each with three drawers: one for batteries, one for plastic bags, and one for spent writing instruments:

    Student Center East, 2nd floor by the Halsted Street Station convenience store

    Student Center West, the lobby next to Student Services, by the Grand Piano 828 S. Wolcott Street entrance

    Student Services Building on the first floor, next to the elevator across from Admissions

    West Campus

    College of Medicine West, 1853 W. Polk Entrance near elevators on the 1st floor, and outside room 106 CMW

    Allied Health Sciences Building, 1919 W. Taylor, in the first floor hallway, just past the lobby seating area

    Paulina Street Building, 1140 S. Paulina, Office of Sustainability,  Room 150

    Hospital, Environmental Services Office, Basement or Concourse Level, Room C-500

    Additional option: if you have a small-ish amount, you can send them via campus mail: Joe Iosbaker, Office of Sustainability, M/C 996

    Toner and Ink Cartridges

    The UIC Copiers program and its partner, the Gordon Flesch Company (GFC), are committed to supporting UIC’s sustainability efforts. Faculty and staff may recycle used ink, copier and printer toner cartridges (as well as printer fusers) from any manufacturer in two easy ways.

    First, if you are a UIC Copiers customer, you can ship back spent cartridges to Canon or Sharp if they are the manufacturers of their cartridges. If from Lexmark, Kyocera, HP or any other manufacturer, they should use the Gordon Flesch RecycleResponsible program.

    Here is the link to the GFC cartridge recycling program:

    You’ll see the icons for the companies. Clicking on Canon, Lexmark, Kyocera or HP will get you to a page to register and download a label for shipping. The Sharp page allows you to register to send a bulk shipment of cartridges. The Lexmark, Kyocera and HP icons all take you to the same RecycleResponsible program page.

    Again, RecycleResponsible accepts all brands of empty printer cartridges including original HP, Brother, and Lexmark, as well as used cartridges from other manufacturers. They also accept used printer fusers. They do not accept toner tubes or toner bottles.

    If you’re not a UIC Copiers customer, your first option is to use the manufacturers pre-paid labels to return spent cartridges. Or, if your office purchases toner or printer cartridges from a vendor, such as Office Max, they will also accept the return of spent cartridges free of charge. You have to store them until they pick them up.

    If you have old cartridges and have no option to return them to a manufacturer or vendor, you can still recycle through GFC.

    Bring your used cartridges to the student centers on either side of campus:

    • East Side – UIC Copy Center, 1st Floor, West Concourse, Student Center East (SCE) & First Floor, Student Services Building (SSB)
    • West Side – Publication Services, Basement, Student Center West (SCW)

    There are other GFC pick-up locations:

    • University Hall, 601 S. Morgan, 1st floor
    • Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood, room B52
    • UI Hospital locations: Nursing Services, room 1502; Pharmacy, room C-300
    • School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute, 1601 W. Taylor, Dept. of Psychiatry, room 553
    • Westside Research Office Building, 1747 W. Roosevelt, room 155

    Finally, the Office of Sustainability hosts the annual Campus Electronic Recycling Collection. Throughout the year, we can accept a certain volume of e-waste, including spent cartridges. Contact Joe Iosbaker at to arrange to drop off at 1140 S. Paulina.

    Great Stuff Exchange/UIC Free Store

    If you have unused inkjet or toner cartridges, or other components from printers and copiers, you can donate them at the Office of Sustainability at 1140 S. Paulina. We’ll try to find a new home for them before sending them to be recycled.


    Pipette Tip Boxes

    Laboratory Recycling

    Print out this poster to post on a Pipette Tip Box recycling bin. You may also request an already printed poster by calling 6-9817


    Print version: Pipette Recycling Flyer (1)

    Starting in 2011, UIC began recycling #5 polypropylene plastic from pipette tip boxes, lids, and trays typically found in Life and Medical Science Laboratories. Pipette tip boxes are to be placed in the specially-marked bins near labs that use pipette tips. They will be recycled and eventually turned into other uses such as agricultural trays for plants. Please do not fill the bin greater than 75% full, as it makes it difficult for UIC Building Service Workers to handle the bag of recycling.

    Please note that only #5 type polypropylene plastic from clean, uncontaminated pipette tip boxes, lids, and refillable trays will be accepted. No other lab plastic is accepted. UIC cannot accept pipette tips because they have the potential to puncture and tear open the bags and, more importantly, there is no guarantee that the tips are clean.

    By their nature, boxes, lids, and trays are used to store clean plastic (like the tips) so they are inherently clean. Tips, on the other hand, are designed to contain chemicals and biological agents, and should be regarded as trash, or sometimes biohazardous waste. Even if the tips have never been used, they are still treated as trash. If a bag is found to have pipette tips or any other types of lab plastic (e.g. chemical bottles, centrifuge tubes, etc), the entire bag becomes trash.

    Here are 3 simple steps you can follow and promote to make sure this program runs smoothly!

    Currently, bins can be found scattered through the hallways of

    • College of Medicine Research Building (COMRB)
    • Medical Sciences Building (MSB)
    • College of Medicine West Tower (CMWT)
    • College of Medicine West (CMW)
    • College of Medicine East (CME)
    • Clinical Sciences North (CSN)
    • Clinical Sciences Building (CSB)
    • College of Pharmacy (PHARM)
    • Molecular Biology Research Building (MBRB)
    • Center for Structural Biology
    • Applied Health Sciences Building (AHSB)


    To request a bin in you building, please email and tell us your building name and room number.


    Chemical Bottles


    Chemical bottles may be recycled along with other glass/metal/plastic as long as it meets the following criteria:

    • the bottle is empty (nothing will drip when inverted) Do NOT allow voltile liquids to evaporate in the fume hood as a method of disposal!
    • the bottle is capless (unsealed/ opened)
    • label is defaced (name of chemical is scratched out with a marker)
    • the bottle used to contain non-hazardous materials (examples include media, buffer solutions, etc.)

    Never recycle a bottle that used to contain flammable*, toxic, oxidizing, explosive, radioactive, water reactive, carcinogenic, biohazardous, or corrosive substances.

    Please see the EHSO Lab Safety Plan how to identify a hazardous chemical and dispose of hazardous chemical bottles according to the Lab Safety Plan.*the only acceptable bottle to recycle that contained a flammable substance is ethanol.


    Office Furniture



    Used, but useful, surplus equipment can be redistributed at the Laflin Warehouse Building, 1514 S Laflin St. The hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can call the warehouse staff at 996-2877. (Note: the campus shuttle bus does not go by the warehouse. Parking is available on Laflin Street by the front door). Please don’t call them for descriptions of available furniture; you need to visit the warehouse yourself to look over the inventory.


    To dispose of unwanted furniture or equipment, start at the OBFS website. You will find the “Request to Dispose of Equipment as Scrap or Surplus” form. Complete and submit the form to The Property Accounting Office will review the form for completeness and return it to you. You are to contact Facilities Management Transportation to schedule a pick-up of the items for delivery to the warehouse if usable (surplus). Equipment no longer usable (scrap) will be properly disposed in accordance with campus policy.


    An ever changing inventory of computers, monitors, tables, chairs, desks, file cabinets, and shelving is available for transfer to university departments/units. This equipment cannot be redirected for personal and must be used solely for university business.

    The transfer process begins by going to the OBFS website to find the form, “Interdepartmental Transfer of Equipment”. Complete the form and submit it to the Property Accounting Office by emailing it to Property Accounting will review the transfer and direct you to contact the FM transportation for a work order to schedule the pick-up and delivery of the equipment to your facility.


    You can also call the UIC Property Accounting Office at 996-2858 for more information about the process for redistribution or disposal of university equipment.


    Plastic Bags and Film

    Plastic Bags and Film

    Student Centers have purchased new cabinets, each with three drawers: one for batteries, one for plastic bags, and one for spent writing instruments:

    Student Center East, 2nd floor by the Halsted Street Station convenience store

    Student Center West, by the Pepsi recycling machine at the 818 Wolcott Street entrance

    Student Services Building on the first floor, next to the elevator across from Admissions

    Otherwise, recycle your plastic bags at your local retail store! Find one here.

    Materials accepted:

    • dry cleaning and newspaper bags
    • bread and produce bags
    • beverage case wrapping
    • paper towel wrap
    • bubble wrap and air pillows
    • plastic grocery bags

    Watch how plastic bags and film are processed for recycling into new products like plastic lumber on a porch or a bench in the park.


    Here’s a handy reminder for your fridge! Print and Cut Out  for Yourself and a Friend

    Learn more about plastic bag and film recycling: I Want To Be Recycled campaign.

    Food Scraps


    UIC has a program that composts your food scraps and plate waste.  Although you won’t see bins where you can scrape your scraps into, UIC composts behind the scenes.

    See here to get a better understand of what composting is and why it’s an important sustainability practice!

    Weigh the Waste

    Volunteers help measure the weight of unwanted food at the annual “Weigh-Your-Waste” event with UIC Dining Services.


    Writing Utensils


    Starting in 2011, UIC has participated in a Terracycle Brigade to collect and recycle used writing utensils. The student group, EcoCampus has ben instrumental* in making this program a success! In Fall 2014, UIC sent over 32 pounds of used writing instruments to be recycled into products like plastic storage bins.

    Drop off your used writing instruments at the following locations:

    East Campus

    First Floor Lobby of University Hall

    Copy Room of Education and Social Work Building, Room 3341, ETMSW

    Gender and Sexuality Center Lounge, Room 181, Behavioral Sciences Building, BSB (The lounge is closed for the summer. Temporary location: in the hallway near Harrison Street entrance.)

    Daley Library, East Entrance

    Writing Center, Room 105, Grant Hall

    UIC Honors College, Burnham Hall


    Science Learning Center, Room 201, Science Engineering South, SES

    North Entrance Vestibule of Science Engineering Offices, SEO (by the vending machines)

    Student Centers

    Student Centers have purchased new cabinets, each with three drawers: one for batteries, one for plastic bags, and one for spent writing instruments:

    Student Center East, 2nd floor by the Halsted Street Station convenience store

    Student Center West, by the Pepsi recycling machine at the 818 Wolcott Street entrance

    Student Services Building on the first floor, next to the elevator across from Admissions

    West Campus

    College of Medicine West, 1853 W. Polk Entrance near elevators on the 1st floor, and outside room 106 CMW

    Allied Health Sciences Building, 1919 W. Taylor, in the first floor hallway, just past the lobby seating area

    Office of Sustainability, 1140 S. Paulina, Room 150

    Additional option: if you have a small-ish amount, you can send them via campus mail: Joe Iosbaker, Office of Sustainability, M/C 996

    1. Pens and pen caps
    2. Mechanical pencils
    3. Markers and marker caps
    4. Permanent markets and permanent marker caps

    *pun definitely intended


    all other materials


    Materials unlisted on this page may not be compatible with existing UIC Recycling services.  To find out the best place to recycle something not listed above, check

    What about coffee cups?

    Coffee cups are tricky, because even though they are made from paper, they may contain a plastic or wax coating that makes them undesirable to recycle. However, parts of the to-go coffee cups may be recycled. The paper sleeve can be recycled int eh paper recycling bin and the plastic lid may be recycled IF the lid is a #5 plastic. Unfortunately, most to-go coffee cup lids are #6 PS and must be thrown in the trash.

    Items that cannot be recycled

    Whatever cannot be recycled must go to the landfill.

    Print out this poster to post near a landfill bin. You may also request an already printed poster by calling 6-9817

    Never acceptable for recycling:

    • Saturated items (such as wet paper)
    • Food waste
    • Bubble wrap and Styrofoam
    • Unmarked Plastic

    What’s so wrong about styrofoam, anyways? Perhaps this infographic can help:



  • Great Stuff Exchange at the UIC Free Store

    GreatStuffExchangeThe Great Stuff Exchange (GSX) & the UIC Free Store is an office supplies giveaway program. The Office of Sustainability collects items from departments that cannot use them anymore and makes them available for students, staff, faculty – or anyone that can use them! We can all promote reuse and source reduction as alternatives to recycling and smart, viable actions for any person or department to take. Reuse also saves your department and the university valuable resources. All materials are free to anyone at UIC.


    There are 2 ways to donate/receive free office supplies

    1) GSX event Wednesday, September 13th 10AM-2PM

    The Great Stuff Exchange (GSX) is an annual event that occurs once each fall in the West Concourse of Student Center East (750 S Halsted Street). Check out pictures from our GSX event !

    2) UIC Free Store

    You can bring materials, like the ones listed below, to the Office of Sustainability at 150 PSB anytime. Please contact Joe Iosbaker at or at 312-996-2517  first to make sure someone will be in the office to receive your stuff.

    Come shopping at our Great Stuff Store at 1140 S. Paulina St (on the west side). Our inventory is updated constantly, so come over and check out what we have!



    Acceptable Materials

    • Appointment Books & Calendars
    • Binders, Notebooks & Paper
    • Bookends & Vertical Files
    • CD’s, DVD’s, Jewel Cases
    • Desktop/Mouse Pads & Organizers
    • Drawer Organizers
    • Envelopes & File Folders
    • Inkject, laser, fax and copier toner cartridges
    • Unused Greeting Cards
    • Name Tag Holders
    • Rolodex Boxes & Cards, Index Cards
    • Scissors, Staplers, & Hole Punchers
    • Pens, Pencils, Lead, & Ink Refills, Toner Cartridges
    • Report Covers & Sheet Protectors
    • Storage Boxes, Cases, Files & Racks
    • etc

    Unacceptable Materials

    • Clothing, Shoes, & Furniture
    • Hazardous Wastes
    • Large Equipment
    • Anything with a University “PTag”
    • Broken items


    • All donated items must be clean and in working condition.
    • Furniture, computers, and larger or more expensive office equipment can be advertised at the Surplus Station.

    To donate items either at the Great Stuff Exchange or at the Free Store, please fill out the form. Any and all information is greatly appreciated!

    UIC Free Store Donation Form for General Office Supplies

    • Description of the Items

      Although not necessary, please fill out as much information about the items you are donating as possible to help expedite the process. You may either use this form or upload a file.
    • Item DescriptionQuantityother informationother information 
      Add a row
  • LabShare LogoUIC LabShare

    We have greatly expanded our LabShare Free Store. A few years ago, we started to collect supplies from labs that no longer needed them. Now, for a small suggested donation (using a UIC CFOAPAL), your lab can acquire low cost lab supplies from our inventory totaling several thousand items.

    Come shopping!

    Click this link for the current UIC LabShare Free Store inventory.

    Once you have list of item(s) (including the size and amount of that item you wish to request), fill out the miscellaneous requisition/voucher form:

    Basic Contact Information needed, including:

    1. Your department name under “department requesting or receiving material or service”
    2. College and Dept. No.
    3. Date requested
    4. Your name and UIC email address under “for more information contact”
    5. Phone number
    6. Room & Bldg and mailcode

    Instructions for listing laboratory items you are interested in requesting from the LabShare Free Store:

    1) Under “Item and/or description,” list the name and size (if applicable) of the laboratory item you are requesting.
    2) Under “Item No.,” write the number (#) of the laboratory item it is listed as.
    For example: On the inventory list, amber glass bottle(s) is assigned with a #1, because it is the first laboratory item on the list. Therefore, write “#1” for this particular laboratory item under “Item No.”

    3) Under “quantity ordered,” list the amount of the laboratory item you wish to request.

    For instance, if you are requesting two amber glass bottles from the store, simply write down “2” under “quantity ordered.”

    Instructions for writing suggested donation amount:

    We are suggesting that you offer a modest donation to the Office of Sustainability, which will allow our office to continually operate the LabShare Free Store effectively and smoothly. We are kindly asking for a donation based on the following recommendations, below:

    • For 5 items or fewer, we are suggesting a minimum of $10.00
    • For 6 – 10 items, we are suggesting a minimum donation of $20.00
    • For 11 or more items, we are suggesting a minimum donation of $30.00


    • Please kindly note that we have provided you with the retail price of each item. We respectfully suggest that you graciously consider donating 15% – 25% of the listed retail price of each item.
    1) Write the amount you wish to donate under “total.”
    2) Under “account no. and title,” write down your department’s CFOAPAL number, and re-write the amount you wish to donate.

    Note: A donation amount is required prior to processing your request.

    Signature and Turning-In the Form

    1) Finally, sign and date under “department head’s signature”
    2) EMAIL: Send your filled-out form to

    We will contact you and process your request within seven business days. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office ( Thank you!

    Prefer to shop in person?

    You’re also invited to come see our inventory at the Office of Sustainability LabShare Free Store, room 150 Paulina Street Building (1140 S. Paulina St.) The store is accessible when Lab Share Free Store staff are present (Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM). Please call ahead to confirm 312-413-9816 that the store is open.

    Want to donate?

    We can take usable laboratory supplies such as glassware, disposable items, and equipment. Please note that we cannot accept any broken items, equipment with “PTags,” or hazardous items. Broken lab glass must be sent to the landfill; PTag items should be processed through UIC Property Accounting, and hazardous waste should be disposed of through the Environmental Health and Safety Office*.


    LabShare Free Store Donation Form for Laboratory Supplies

    • Description of the Items

      Although not necessary, please fill out as much information about the items you are donating as possible to help expedite the process. You may either use this form or upload a file.
    • Item DescriptionQuantityother informationother information 
      Add a row

    *See the UIC Environmental Health and Safety Office guideline for Biohazard Waste Disposal for disposing broken laboratory glass (Yes, even non-biohazardous materials are referenced here.)

  • UIC Food Scrap Composting


    UIC has a program that composts your food scraps and plate waste.  Visit one of the All-You-Care-To-Eat dining halls in Student Center East or Student Center West to see how composting transforms your left-over food scraps into re-usable, nutrient rich soil.  See below to get a better understand of what composting is and why it’s an important sustainability practice!


    What is composting?

    Composting is the process of repurposing organic materials such as vegetable scraps, egg shells, wood chips, manures, grass clippings, fruit peels, newspapers, and many others, into rich, productive soil. It is a process that saves hundreds of pounds of harmful greenhouse gas emitting waste from entering and filling up our landfills


    Food scrap composting at UIC

    In 2013, UIC Student Centers, through the help of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, implemented back-of-the-house food scrap and plate waste composting at the All-You-Care-To-Eat dining halls in Student Center East.  This was made possible after an audit of food scrap collection revealed the amounts of waste that were being sent to the landfill, when they could have been reused!  Today food scrap and plate waste composting are a successful practice in the Student Center East.


    Why is composting important?

    In nature there is no such thing as “waste!”  A “closed loop” cycle of material occurs where things such as plants, animals and other organic matter are left to decompose naturally. When the cycle is complete, nature takes its course and returns all the vitamins and nutrients to the Earth.  This process enriches our planet by repurposing our food waste into rich organic soil that farmers and gardeners can re-use. The process also removes impurities naturally and helps reduce carbon emissions.


    This allows the opportunity for new things to grow and live.  Without composting, materials often sit in a landfill for years, producing harmful methane gas that destroys our atmosphere. In 2009, methane emissions from landfills made up 17% of total methane emissions in the US, the 3rd highest behind Natural Gas Systems (like power plants, home heating units, etc.)

  • In October 2016, the UIC Office of Susainability presented at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference and shared our findings how signage effects recycling rates. We replaced the recycling signs in 5 buildings with new signs, based on the recommendations of Recycle Across America. Although there was no statistical increase in the recycling rates before and after the new signs were installed, the UIC community did express that the new signs were more clear and easy to understand. So whereas new signs can help people decide how to properly dispose and sort their trash, it will not increase recycling rates unless accompanied by other techniques such as outreach, teaching, and infrastructure improvements to the entire system. UIC will not invest in reposting the new signs in all 100+ buildings, but instead will focus on the improvement techniques mentioned above.

    How Signage Effects Recycling

    Please click on the PDF Link,  How Signage Effects Recycling at UIC, to view the full poster.

    What do you think? Compare our old signs with the new ones for yourself:

    UIC Recycling - Mixed paper UIC Recycling - glassmetalplastic UIC Recycling - Landfill


    recycle posters Paper 11x17 recycle posters Glass Metal Plastic 11x17recycle posters Landfill 11x17