How Do I Recycle at UIC?

Recycling stations of different shapes and sizes can be found in the hallways in every building at UIC and should be no more than a few steps away form your office, classroom or lab. These stations usually consist of three bins ("Paper"; "Bottles & Cans"; and "Landfill"). You can recycle paper, cardboard, bottles, cans, and most plastics,  just to name a few.

Desk-Side Recycling

Office working placing paper in her office recycling bin

Seven-gallon desk-side recycling containers and hanging “side saddles” are provided in offices. Your desk-side recycling container may be gray or blue – either color is fine – and is intended for paper, empty bottles, cans, and other glass, metal or plastic containers. The smaller side-saddles are intended for landfill-bound materials like food scraps and non-recyclable plastics. For staff and students in the residence halls, there are recycling bins in individual rooms or common areas.


Hallway Bins

UIC Staff empties his desk-side recycling bin into the larger hallway bin

Students, faculty, and office staff are expected to empty their desk-side recycling bins and side-saddle landfill containers when full. This means you must carry your trash and recyclables to nearby recycling stations and separate the materials into the appropriate bins. Cardboard should be flattened and placed behind the hallway bins.

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 desk-side unit locations. To purchase new recycling stations for your unit, department, or college, first consult with the UIC Recycling Bin Standard.

Building Service Workers & The Dock

BSW LaShun Nicholson moves the bottles and cans bag of recycling into a rolling cart

Building Service Workers (BSWs) empty the hallway recycling stations regularly and move the contents to a central collection point. You will see the BSW place a bag of bottles and cans in the same barrel with a bag of paper and trash. That’s ok! The bags are just mingled for a little bit while they make their trip up and down the hallways and eventually to your building’s dock area. Once in the dock, the BSW will take the bag of bottles and cans and put in the 95-gallon blue “tote”, the bag of paper into the 95-gallon green tote or cardboard compactor, and the trash bag into the dumpster.

Outdoor Recycling Bins

student recycling plastic cup in Big Belly outdoor solar compactor recycling bin outside of the LCC

You can recycle in BigBelly Solar compacting trash and recycling containers found scattered outdoors around the east side of campus.  These bins use solar power to compact the waste and recyclables into smaller spaces, thus creating more room and less pick-ups. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are reduced by the decreased number of vehicle trips (gas/ diesel emissions), as well as the increased number of items being recycled (instead of sent to landfill) leading to about 50 tons per year of GHG emissions reduction.

When the bins are full, the UIC Grounds Department is sent a signal via UIC Wi-Fi and then the bins are emptied and hauled away to a collection point. With fewer recycling pick-ups, Bigbelly allows the Grounds Department to save time in waste collection and can deploy crews to other much-needed assignments across campus and improve productivity.

UIC Transportation Department

UIC recycling truck driving on Taylor Street

UIC Transportation visits every dock on campus at least once a week or as-needed and collects the contents of the green and blue totes, and the cardboard compactor in the recycling truck. UIC Transportation will also pick up the trash  on a regular schedule in the garbage truck.


See what materials can be recycled at UIC

Schematic diagram of the life cycle of recycled goods at UIC that reads clockwise: Buy Recycled/ Recyclable Goods. Create the demand for recycled goods. Purchase items containing recycled content - such as paper, files folders, notebooks, and stationary. Desk-Side Recycling. Place all recyclable materials in the small blue bin by your desk. Hallway Recycling. If you don’t have a desk-side bin, or when the bin is full, sort the materials in the hallway stations. We all have a responsibility to properly recycle at UIC. Building Services. UIC personnel collect bags of  recyclables from the hallway stations, often placing both recycling  and landfill bags in one hauling  cart. At the loading dock the bags  are separated into larger  containers (totes) for pickup.   UIC Recycling Program Collections. UIC Recycling staff collect recyclables  in our recycling truck and haul materials  to the local sorting facility. Sorting. Recyclables are taken to sorting facilities where the goods are separated and  bundled to be shipped to a processing facility. Processing. The recycled goods are further      broken down into reusable      materials. For example, paper products become pulp, plastic  bottles transform into pellets, and glass turns into cullet. These materials are made into paper, plastic,  and glass products, or depending on  the facility, they are shipped to another  manufacturing factory or mill. Product to Shelf. Before you know it, the materials  are back on the shelf! In some regions  of the U.S. aluminum cans are back on  shelves in less than 30 days! Material you recycle at UIC becomes Anheuser Busch cans, Mohawk carpets, International tissue paper and newspaper!

A schematic of how recycling works at UIC