10 Things You Should Recycle Today!

As the Recycling Coordinator here at UK, I always hear “recycling is confusing”. Unfortunately, that sentiment is true, so I always encourage students, faculty and staff to ask questions. There are no stupid questions when it comes to recycling!

To help you navigate the recycling works at UK, here are 10 items you should start recycling today!

1.       Cardboard Boxes

Bring on all the boxes! Any and all of your empty cardboard boxes should be recycled on campus. If you are anything like me, you have plenty of amazon and shipping boxes. So, grab your precious purchases out of the box, take out any packaging materials and then recycle it!

2.       Pizza boxes

Speaking of cardboard boxes, let’s talk about pizza boxes! Delivery pizza boxes are recyclable on campus, even if it has a little cheese or grease on it. If the box is empty, it can be recycled!

3.       Glass bottles & jars

Any glass bottle and jar can be recycled on campus. Clear, green, brown glass are all recyclable. Metal lids for jars and bottles can also go into the recycling container. In fact, I encourage everyone to always place the lids back on containers prior to recycling!

4.       Aluminum cans

I love aluminum cans! Did you know that if you recycle your aluminum can today, within 60 days it is back on the store shelf as a new aluminum can! 60 days! Plus, there are a couple of large aluminum recycling companies here in Kentucky. So, recycle that aluminum can and create jobs in Kentucky!

5.       Steel cans

Soup anyone? All steel cans can be recycled here at UK. There is no need to remove the paper label, just rinse and toss into your nearest recycling container!

6.       Paper

Here on campus, all types of office paper can be put in the general recycling container. That right; white & colored paper, magazines, newspapers, post it notes, envelopes, shredded paper, folders, junk mail and note cards can all be recycled in our blue bins.

7.       Plastic Bottle

Ok. Everything about plastic recycling is complicated and confusing. There, I said it. Here at UK, we do not recycle based on the recycling symbol or the number of plastic. I repeat, ignore the recycling symbol and plastic number. We are only able to recycle plastic bottles and jugs (more on that below…). Plastic water bottles, soda bottles, sports drink bottles, shampoo bottles, salad dressing bottle, 2 Liter bottle (are you sensing a pattern?). If you look at a plastic item and you call it a bottle, it can be recycled!

8.       Plastic Jug

Similarly, to the plastic bottle, UK can recycle plastic jugs. Once again, ignore the recycling symbol and number, just look at the shape. Plastic laundry jugs, milk and juice jugs, cleaning product jugs are all recyclable. Make sure your plastic jug (and bottles) are empty and drop them in the recycling container.

9.       Paperboard

Paperboard is very similar to cardboard. Think about your cereal boxes, tissue boxes and even toilet paper tubes. All those items are paperboard and can be recycled. Fun fact, any box that is made to be put in your refrigerator or freezer cannot, I repeat, cannot be recycled. Just stick to the boxes that sit on the shelf or are in your pantry!

10.   NOT CUPS

I know, this is supposed to be about items that should be recycled, but I need to take a moment to talk about an item that should never be put in the recycling container – the cup! All cups – plastic, paper, Styrofoam – are NOT recyclable. This also includes the lids and straws that go along with the cup. So, next time you need a cup of coffee, be sure to grab your reusable cup or mug and opt out of the not-recyclable cup!

Photo Credit: Chris Harrison

Still confused? Need your questions answered? Learn more about recycling at the University of Kentucky!

 Learn what is recyclable here at UK and send questions and photos directly to the ‘IDK’ virtual recycling bin!

Joanna Ashford

Joanna has served as the Recycling Coordinator for the University of Kentucky since 2018. She continues to work with campus partners to minimize waste and find creative solutions to waste generated. As staff advisor for Lexington Environmental Youth Outreach, Joanna is passionate about environmental education and outreach!

Most discussed