Recyclable Materials

At UIC, you can recycle paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and most plastic materials in the "hallway bins" found in every building on campus (and even in the "BigBellies" outside). You can even recycle laboratory plastics, gloves, batteries, pens and markers, and plastic bags in a select number of buildings.

UIC recycles almost like the City of Chicago. The difference is that UIC separates paper/ cardboard from the rest of the recycling. UIC receives revenue for paper and cardboard, which helps to fund the UIC Recycling program.


Illinois EPA Interactive Curbside Bin Recycling Guide

Blue Cart Basics Recycling at home in Chicago

Paper & Cardboard

Paper recycling sign with materials like notebooks, newspapers, envelopes (with staples) and cardboard lunch boxes

Yes, please place these items in the Paper Recycling bin:

white and colored paper
glossy paper
newspapers & magazines
sticky notes
chip board (e.g. tissue boxes)
brown paper
hard-bound books

Please breakdown all cardboard boxes and place behind or next to the paper recycling bin.


Do not recycle wet papers in the recycling bin

No, do not recycle these items:
soiled paper
wet paper or cardboard
used coffee cups
tissue paper, napkins, or paper towels
food-soaked cardboard (e.g. greasy pizza boxes)

Glass, Metal, Plastic ("Bottles & Cans")

Glass, metal, and plastic recycling sign with materials like bottles, cans, aluminum foil, yogurt containers, and juice boxes

Yes, please place these items in the Glass Metal Plastic Recycling bin:

glass and metal cartons and containers (empty)
plastic bottles (empty)
plastics with a recycling symbol and numbers #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #7
aluminum foil (relatively clean and not soiled)
juice boxes and Tetra Paks
non-hazardous chemical bottles (empty)*.

*Never recycle a chemical 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 regulations.

Do not recycle plastics like bags, food wrappers, styrofoam, #6 plastics, straws

No, do not recycle these items:

any plastic without a recycling symbol (plastic forks, spoons & knives/ straws/ plates)
#6 plastics (polystyrene and styrofoam products)
food and candy wrappers and packets
broken glass

(Please recycle plastic bags and film in the specialty marked bins across campus. See below for details)

Recycling Posters

Batteries, Pens & Markers, Plastic Film

Recycle Batteries sign


UIC recycles batteries, including alkaline, lithium, nickel cadmium, and zinc carbon. The batteries are collected by the Office of Sustainability (OS), Environmental Services (EVS) at UI Health, 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 any of the buildings listed below. If you have a small amount that can fit inside an inter-campus mail envelope, you can send them via campus mail: Recycling Coordinator, Office of Sustainability, M/C 996.

The Physical Plant Building (PPB) is the final collection point for battery recycling before it is shipped 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 the Assistant Director for Building Operations at (312) 996-5913. 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.

Recycling pens and Markers sign

Pens and Markers

Starting in 2011, UIC has participated in a Terracycle Brigade to collect and recycle used writing utensils.  In Fall 2014, UIC sent over 32 pounds of used writing instruments to be recycled into products like plastic storage bins. In Summer 2016, a student authored a Sustainability Fee proposal allowed the program to expand all over campus!

We accept pens and pen caps, mechanical pencils, markers and marker caps, permanent markers and permanent marker caps. Student Centers and College of Medicine West (CMW) have a combined recycling cabinet, each with three drawers: one for batteries, one for plastic bags, and one for spent writing instruments.

Departments and individuals that wish to recycle their writing utensils must bring them to any of the buildings listed below. If you have a small amount that can fit inside an inter-campus mail envelope, you can send them via campus mail: Recycling Coordinator, Office of Sustainability, M/C 996.

Plastic film types

Plastic Film (Bags)

Plastic film is not accepted in the UIC Recycling Program and therefore can not be placed in the Bottles and Cans bins around campus. Instead, if you choose to recycle your plastic film, you must take the material to the specialty marked bin in Student Center East, Student Center West, Student Services Building, or the College of Medicine West building to the combined recycling cabinet for batteries, plastic bags, and spent writing instruments.

Additionally, you may recycle any plastic film (not just the bags from the grocery store) at your local grocery store or big box retailer.

Toner & Ink Cartridges

The UIC Copiers program and its partner, the Gordon Flesch Company (GFC), are committed to supporting UIC’s zero waste 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.

If you are a UIC Copiers customer, you can ship back spent cartridges to Canon or Sharp (must be Canon/Sharp brand cartridges). If it is any other manufacturer, use the Gordon Flesch Recycle Services program. They accept 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, you can use the manufacturers pre-paid labels to return spent cartridges or bring your used cartridges to either the Student Center East (UIC Copy Center), Student Services Building, or Student Center West (Publication Services). Gordon Flesch will also pick-up from University Hall (1st floor), College of Pharmacy (room B52), UI Health Hospital (Nursing Services, room 1502 or Pharmacy, room C-300), School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute,  (room 553), or Westside Research Office Building (room 155)

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

Pipette Tip Box recycling poster

Dispose pipette tip boxes in the specially-marked bins near labs – 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.

Currently, bins can be found throughout 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 Dentistry (COD), College of Pharmacy (PHARM), Molecular Biology Research Building (MBRB), Center for Structural Biology, and Applied Health Sciences Building (AHSB).

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

More ways to recycle at UIC

Outdoor Recycling 101

Don’t even think about throwing recyclable material in the trash at UIC… or SHE will get you! And YES! We recycle. (Directed by UIC undergraduate students/ Smart Grid Interns)