Recycling The State Way
In 2021, Georgia State University, with the support of The Recycling Partnership and Cascadia Consulting Group, developed their first Materials Management Plan to identify opportunities to improve GSU’s diversion rate, or reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and increase the amount the university recycles. Following recommendations in the plan, in Spring 2022 Georgia State University started transitioning from a single-stream to a multi-stream recycling program. Until this transition is complete, you may continue to see both styles on campus. Please use this webpage as a guide to learn how to #RecycleTheStateWay.
Single-stream bins accept #1 and #2 plastic bottles, cans, and paper all in one container. Cardboard must be flattened and placed next to or behind the bin. No glass is allowed in these bins.
Because material is collected all in one container, it must be taken to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to be sorted. The MRF will only accept material they can sort, so the materials GSU can accept with single-stream is very limited. Additionally, when beverage containers like soda cans and water bottles are collected with paper and cardboard, there is an increased risk of contamination or dirty materials, which makes recycling worth less money. Although single-stream recycling helps GSU collect materials to recycle, it is not the economically preferred way.
Multi-stream / Centralized Waste Stations
Georgia State University is transitioning to a color-coded multi-stream recycling program that allows us to collect more materials, ensure they’re clean, and speed up the recycling process by taking them directly to a buyer. To do this, Georgia State University utilizes central waste stations with color-coded bins to collect recycling. At these waste stations, you must sort your waste into different bins based on the material, such as paper, cans, or plastic bottles. Each centralized waste station includes color coded signs to help you sort and can be found in high traffic areas, like mail rooms, break rooms, and throughout academic areas.
Sustainability Initiatives is currently hosting Recycling Makeovers to help GSU transition to multi-stream recycling. If you are interested in volunteering to assist with a Recycling Makeover, please sign up through Paws for a Cause. To nominate your space for a recycling makeover, email [email protected] with subject line: Recycling Makeover.
What can I recycle at GSU?
GSU uses standardized labels and colors to guide you on how to properly sort your recycling.
Centralized Waste Stations
Sustainability Initiatives offers multiple versions of our Centralized Waste Stations in order to best serve the community’s needs in a given space.
Students are most likely to interact with our Georgia State branded waste stations that offer recycling for #1 and #2 plastic bottles, cans, and paper, and an attached bin for disposing of trash. Some locations may also include an area for plastic film. If there is not an area for plastic film, please use the landfill bin.
These Centralized Waste Stations are typically located in employee break rooms. At these stations, you can recycle #1 and #2 plastic bottles, cans, paper, and in some cases, plastic bags, and packaging foam, as well as dispose of trash in a separate bin. In employee mail rooms, you may also have bins for paper and cardboard, or cardboard bins may be located at your loading dock.
As a reminder, recycling crews do not empty desk side bins in or near individual offices. All employees are responsible for emptying their own desk side trash and recycling bins at Centralized Waste Stations.
Hard to Recycle Hubs
Georgia State University is also developing Hard to Recycle Material Hubs where students, staff, and faculty can recycle materials that are not collected at centralized waste or recycling stations, such as books or electronics. As these stations are developed and installed, more information will be available to guide you. To nominate a space for a Hard to Recycle Hub email, [email protected] with subject line: Hard to Recycle Hub.
Residential Recycling Centers
University Lofts, University Commons, and Piedmont North are equipped with their own Residential Recycling Centers for residents to use. Residents are responsible for bringing their trash and recycling from their rooms to these stations as needed. Residents should use these color-coded areas to sort and recycle flattened cardboard, #1 and #2 plastic bottles, cans, glass, plastic bags, and packaging foam into the corresponding containers.
Cardboard must be flattened before placing in the container. This ensures that your neighbors also have space to recycle. In order to assist with flattening cardboard, a blue plastic box cutter will be chained to each cardboard bin in the Residential Recycling Centers.
Confidential Document Shredding
Sustainability Initiatives is introducing confidential shred bins. Shred bins are for the collection of confidential documents, such as those containing legal and financial information. Each locked bin can hold up to five copy paper boxes worth of material. Shred Bins are intended for short-term use only (typically less than two weeks).
All confidential documents collected through this program will be shredded at the Georgia State Recycling Center. Once shredded, the Georgia State recycling team will bail and recycle the paper, keeping valuable recyclables out of the landfill.
Please note that these shred bins are for confidential documents only and not for regular paper. If you are looking to do a purge, please look at the website for more details on how to request a bin for purging.
Details and Instructions:
- Please submit a work order requesting bin delivery and pickup. Please include the building name, street address, and room number where the shred bin is to be placed.
- Please fill shred bins only with confidential documents that contain legal or financial information. Non-sensitive materials such as exams should be recycled via the standard recycling bins.
- Containers must be housed indoors for security purposes.
- The requestor must guarantee access to the designated area on delivery and pick-up days with someone on-site to verify drop-off/pick-up.
- Departments may only request one confidential shred bin per suite per work order. Due to program popularity, departments are limited to four courtesy confidential shred bin requests per year.
- Due to the popularity of the program, recycling staff will retrieve shred bins two weeks after they were delivered, so that bins can be re-circulated throughout the university.
Third-party vendors and bulk requests
- Some departments need multiple shred bins at a time or a year-round supply of bins in their office. Unfortunately, GSU cannot support these requests under the current staffing levels.
- Departments with high levels of shredding are encouraged to engage with a third-party shredding vendor listed in PantherMart.
- Many departments maintain deskside paper shredders in their suites and shred the paper themselves. To ensure this shredded paper is recyclable, please take the following steps:
- Empty shredded paper into a clear or transparent blue bag.
- Tie the bag and place it near any centralized recycling bin in the breakroom or copyroom.
- The recycling crew will pick up during their weekly walk-throughs.
- Please note, the recycling team can not empty individual shredders nor can they provide bags for the deskside commercial bins. Clear bags can be purchased through PantherMart.
Toner Cartridge Recycling
As of September 2022, Sustainability Initiatives is launching a new process to facilitate toner cartridge recycling.
Sustainability Initiatives will facilitate toner cartridge recycling by providing instructions and pre-paid shipping labels to enable departments to better manage the toner recycling process in-house. Additionally, Sustainability Initiatives’ recycling crew will pick-up and mail pre-packaged, pre-labeled boxes of toner cartridges. Individual departments are responsible for procuring shipping boxes, loading used and unwrapped toner cartridges into the shipping boxes, and packaging, taping and labeling shipping boxes.
Departments are responsible for submitting work orders notifying Sustainability Initiatives the toner cartridge boxes need to be picked-up for mailing.
- Please submit a work order requesting shipping labels for toner cartridge recycling.
- Individual departments should procure a large, sturdy shipping box that is no larger than 20” x 20” x 24” and able to hold up to 40 lbs. when full. Departments are encouraged to re-use appropriately sized boxes when possible; copy paper boxes are a good example of the appropriate boxes to use. Otherwise, boxes can be purchased from various vendors through PantherMart.
- Individuals should place used toner cartridges directly in the shipping boxes. Please do not include packaging materials, such as the original box or plastic molding. Cardboard should be recycled separately. Plastic molding is typically made of #7 and should be disposed of in the landfill bin.
- Once the box is full, please submit a work order requesting pick-up. Please note, pack boxes using the 20/20 rule: send a minimum of 20 items or 20 lbs. of mixed product.
- Boxes should be placed near the closest centralized waste station for pick-up. Buildings should be serviced weekly.
Green Move-In Recycling
Every fall, we look forward to welcoming 5,000+ new Panthers to the five residence halls at our downtown Atlanta campus. As part of our university’s commitment to sustainability, we provide temporary recycling stations for collecting cardboard, Styrofoam(R), and plastic film.
Tips for students moving to campus:
- Consider unpacking before you pack. This can be done by unboxing items and properly disposing of cardboard, Styrofoam, and plastic film at home prior to moving to the residence halls. You can use sheets, towels, and other soft items to pack and transport fragile items.
- If you forgot to unpack before you pack (or just still have recyclables on you), please bring them directly to the pop-up recycling stations located outside every residence hall.
- Please keep your recyclables sorted by type (each material goes to a different place and it saves everyone time if we don’t have to separate out the various materials):
No food contact or residue.
Plastic packaging for sheets, food packaging are not recyclable.
Looking to volunteer and support recycling efforts during GSU’s Green Move-In?
In 2022, we relied on nearly 250 volunteers to process 16,000 pounds of cardboard, 1,500 pounds of packaging foam, and 600 pounds of plastic bags. We rely on volunteers to make this event a success.
Volunteering at move-in is a great way to welcome and support our students as they transition to GSU, assist with campus sustainability efforts, accrue volunteer hours, and bond with friends and colleagues.
Volunteers that sign-up to staff the recycling stations during move-in also earn a free meal at the dining hall following their shift. Check out our volunteer resources below:
Reverse Vending Machines
Georgia State hosts eight Reverse Vending Machines across the Atlanta and Clarkston campuses. These high-capacity recycling machines use technology to reduce contamination, sort, and compact recyclables on site. They accept empty plastic drink bottles and empty drink cans.The Reverse Vending Machines can hold up to 1,000 plastic bottles and cans between servicing, making them a great fit for some of our high-traffic areas. Plastic bottles from these machines are clean enough to be considered “food grade plastic,” which means they can be used to make more plastic bottles. The cans can be recycled infinite times and be back on shelves as new cans within 60 days.
Where To Find One on The Atlanta Campus:
- Aderhold Learning Center – ground floor·
- Student Center East – first floor near the information desk·
- Piedmont Central Residence Hall – In the lounge after front desk·
- Student Center West- 3rd floor student lounge across from the book store
- Lofts- Student lounge on the left of the entrance through the door·
- Patton – located in front of the vending machines·
- Commons – in the lounge on the left of the entrance
Where To Find One on The Clarkston Campus:
- Student Center (CN Building): near the vending machines
Recycling Service Schedule
Atlanta Campus Interior
Student Center East and West
Student Rec Center
College of Education
Natural Science Center
55 Park PL
Library public + Suites
One Park Pl
Courtland Sports Annex
25 Park Place
Arts and Humanities
Atlanta Campus Exterior Docks
College of Education
34/35 Broad Street
Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities
25 pk pl
Pantry @ 75
Residential Recycling Centers
|Tuesday and Thursday|
|University Commons||Monday, Tuesday, and Friday|
Perimeter College Campuses Interiors and Exteriors
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What do I do if our recycling bins are full?
Why are there multiple recycling bins?
What is contamination?
How do I recycle batteries?
Are paper towels and paper napkins recyclable?
Who should I contact with additional questions?
Note: If you need a recycling bin, a shredding bin for confidential documents, or need a bin to be emptied, please submit a work order so your request can be assigned and delegated promptly. Submitting a work order is the best way to get our team on the scene.