recycling bin

Minimizing Waste

Waste minimization and recycling at Penn

Since Penn's 2009 Climate Action Plan, waste reduction, reuse, and recycling practices have expanded dramatically. The university now collects over 10 types of specialty waste. Single stream recycling is now standard across the University, with many Schools and Centers offering specialty recycling options including e-waste, batteries, and light bulbs. In the face of such steady improvement, recent well-publicized global shifts across the entire recycling marketplace, from global to local levels, have led to a re-evaluation of recycling and diversion practices, putting more focus on holistic waste minimization and diversion approaches.

To download the featured waste pictograms and find additional information on waste management visit the Facilities & Real Estate Services website.


Trash (Landfill and Waste-to-Energy)

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

Glass, rigid plastics, soft plastics

Single-Stream Recycling

Glass, rigid plastics, soft plastics (bags, wrap, etc.) metal, paper, and cardboard. Rinse plastic food containers and empty liquids from bottles before placing in the bin.



Food waste and leaves.


Electronic Waste

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


Miscellaneous Waste

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

Additional Resources

Check out some additional resources on our website: