Cornell Recycling and Solid Waste

With a campus as large as Cornell's, using reusable mugs, water bottles, and tote bags can reduce the waste stream by several tons...

Over 64% of waste generated on Cornell campus is diverted from the area landfill

All of Cornell’s solid waste recycling is tracked and measured as part of an aggressive program to cut waste to an absolute minimum while maximizing recycling, composting, and the reuse of materials.

Cornell's R5 Operations (Respect, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) manages the non-hazardous waste and recycling system for Cornell's Ithaca campus. With many campus partners, R5 Operations hosts programs for recycling of papers, plastics, cans, glass, electronics, used oil, scrap metals, wood, tires, light bulbs, batteries, and more.

Visit the R5 Operations website and check the FAQs for the latest metrics on campus recycling and solid waste.

Material Use Reduction

Cornell supports the reuse and reduction of use of materials (for example, making double sided copies) to lessen the impact of Cornell's activities on the environment, and saves money. Because waste prevention prolongs the lives of materials and products, it reduces the need to manufacture new goods or reprocess materials. By reducing the amount of raw materials that are used in manufacturing, waste prevention conserves resources such as metals, water, and petroleum, and minimizes the environmental impacts associated with mining, drilling, extracting, processing, and transporting these raw materials. Reusing or prolonging the lives of products also means that these items don't need to be purchased as frequently. Preventing waste helps extend the lives of existing solid waste disposal facilities on Campus and helps avoid disputes over siting new facilities.

Campus Recycling

Each week Cornell custodians collect an average of 28 tons of recyclable materials from over 90 campus buildings. All Cornell campus offices are supplied with desk-side recycling bins for paper products, beverage containers, and cardboard.

Greener Greenhouses

For twenty years Cornell has composted plant materials and potting soil and sterilized plastic pots and trays for reuse. Cornell has now begun recycling greenhouse pots that are at the end of their life. This long overdue initiative has been implemented with The Safety, Health, and Environmental Management (SHEM) Steering Committee for Cornell Greenhouses in partnership with the Cornell Recycling Department. Greenhouse pots can be easily recycled and reused in other, useful ways.