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Reducing Waste and Increasing Recycling

Learn how to minimize landfill waste and to effectively reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost!  Click here to download Colgate's Recycling Guide.
Reducing and eventually eliminating landfill waste presents a formidable challenge. We live in an age of consumerism and disposability. Couple that with an ever-changing student body that needs to be constantly trained and educated on our recycling program, and you can begin to appreciate the challenge of effectively managing our waste.

Nevertheless, we are doing just that! Since 2008, we have reduced our landfill waste by over 175 tons (or 19%) while our recycling rate has improved from 16% in 2010 to 22% in 2014.

This steady progress is a result of:
  • improved recycling infrastructure, including recycling bins in student rooms upon request (e-mail or call x6360 to request bins);
  • an electronic waste (eWaste) recycling program with 16 stations located throughout campus (click here to view our eWaste map);
  • an on-campus composting program led by the student Compost Club;
  • improved behaviors led by individuals in our Green Living and Green Office programs.
Have a question on how to recycling at Colgate?  Check out our list of FAQs

Where Our Trash Goes

Do you know where our trash goes? Hint: It never goes away.

Trash from Colgate goes to the Madison County landfill less than 20 miles from campus. Here are some facts you need to know:
  • Colgate sends over 1,500,000 pounds of trash to the landfill each year.
  • This waste was responsible for over 240,000 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to burning more than 12,400 gallons of gasoline).
  • This cost us nearly $50,000 in tipping fees.
  • At least 30 percent of our "trash" was recyclable!
By making a few simple changes, we can all make a difference and meet our campus goal of reducing our landfill waste by 300 tons (to a total of 500 tons) by 2015.

Electronic Waste Recycling

Electronic devices (eWaste) should always be recycled when they become obsolete. Never throw your eWaste in a trash bin.  Recycling eWaste saves energy, finite and precious resources, and reduces toxins in our environment.

Cell phones, batteries, compact discs, digital cameras, iPods, cables and cords, printer cartridges, calculators, and other small electronic devices can all be recycled safely and conveniently in the electronic recycling station on the second floor of the Coop (in the elevator alcove) or to any one of our 16 locations around campus (download eWaste map here).  Please lend a helping hand and tape both ends of all batteries before placing them in a battery recycling bin.

Members of the Sustainability Office will come around every few weeks to empty the electronic waste bins in your area.  If a bin becomes full and needs more immediate attention, please call x6360 or e-mail us at

Where does Colgate's eWaste go?  Click here to find out.

Larger electronic devices such as Colgate-owned television sets, computers, and printers are collected by ITS (call the helpline at x7111 for assistance).

Where can your personally-owned eWaste be recycled?
As a Hamilton resident, you can take your electronic waste to the transfer station in Poolville (Cranston Road). They are open from 7:10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will punch your card for each item (punch cards cost $13.50 and contain 5 punches).

As a Madison County resident, you can also take your eWaste free of charge to the Madison-Cortland ARC at 327 Farrier Avenue and Gary's Auto Parts at 651 Fitch Street, both in Oneida. 

Recycling 101

Not sure what to recycle? Our recycling guide has all the details! DOWNLOAD NOW

More Colgate recycling facts
  • Madison County recycles all plastics (numbers 1-7), including plastic retail bags (fill one bag with other clean bags, tie off when full, and drop in the recycling)!

  • New York State's bottle deposit program means you can return many bottles and cans for cash!

  • Pizza boxes are recyclable — of course, eat all of the pizza first! Grease stains are okay.

  • Colgate's leaf litter is transported to local farms for cow bedding.

  • Colgate's disposable utensils are made of cornstarch and are biodegradable.

  • All printing shop inks are based on food dyes, and are biodegradable.

  • Our spent printer cartridges are recycled.

  • We recycle electronic waste including computers, monitors, televisions, and printers through Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery (RCR&R), out of Rochester, N.Y.

  • Campus paper towels and toilet tissue are 100 percent recycled material.

  • Print-release stations in computer labs around campus drastically reduce the amount of unclaimed printed paper.

We encourage you to take the lead in your residence, office, or workspace and ensure that it is easy for you and others to recycle. To get started, you need two recycling bins:
  1. Paper products: This bin is for print and copier paper, newspaper, notebook paper, envelopes, magazines, and catalogs. Pizza boxes, cereal boxes, corrugated cardboard, paper bags, and dry food boxes can also be recycled with paper. Most paper recycling bins on campus have a lid with a slit to facilitate paper recycling while reducing contamination.  See image below.
  2. Plastic/glass/metal cans: This bin is for all plastics #1-7, all glass bottles and metal cans, plastic milk and water jugs, yogurt containers, laundry soap and detergent bottles, plastic cups, and plastic grocery bags.  Most bottle/can recycling bins on campus have a top with two holes to facilitate bottle and can recycling while reducing contamination.  See image below.

Slim Jim recycling containers commonly found around campus.

Please take a moment to help Colgate and our planet by taking a moment to place your waste in the proper bin.

If needed, you should also have separate containers for batteries and small electronic waste. Once you have containers in place, you can download, print (11 x17), and laminate (for longevity) the necessary signage below: