The UGA Deskside Waste Reduction Program

Each UGA unit is encouraged to take responsibility for managing waste within their office environments to enable FMD staff to focus on increased cleaning and disinfecting of restrooms and common areas. Participants receive new deskside recycling and “side saddle” trash bins and commit to empty them into nearby common area bins. Bins are provided free of charge to Resident Instruction facilities and are available for purchase by Non-RI units.

There is a simple 3-step process to get started.

  1. UGA departments can submit a request directly to their Building Services Supervisor or complete a UGA Deskside Waste Reduction Program Form. Note: Coordinated departmental responses are preferred. If requesting for multiple participants, please complete and keep a Participant Log with names and room numbers to assist your Building Services Supervisor with distribution of the bins.
  2. The FMD Building Services Supervisor will coordinate delivery of the new bins to participating employees, and remove old bins as needed.
  3. Participating employees commit to manage their own deskside materials, empty their deskside bins into nearby common area recycling and trash receptacles, and clean their deskside bins as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Deskside Waste Reduction System

Will Building Service Workers remove my trash if I choose not to participate?

People who choose to not participate will notice that personal waste inside of individual office trash cans may not be collected each day. Due to state reductions in funding and the heavy need for public areas to have increased cleaning frequencies, our cleaning staff will be prioritizing their time to ensure high-touch traffic areas, public restrooms, and other common areas are sanitized.

What Can I Put In The Bins?

We strongly encourage employees to place any food, food wrappers, wet or sticky items directly into common area landfill bins with plastic bag liners. Similar to standard single-stream recycling bins on campus, the deskside recycling bins can receive clean paper, plastic, metal or glass. See detailed guidance at the Athens-Clarke County web site.

How do I clean my bins?

Individual employees are responsible for cleaning out their own deskside bins. The first and best strategy is to be mindful of what you put into the bins. If your bin needs to be cleaned, a paper towel with warm water and hand or dish soap from a nearby restroom or break room should be sufficient.

What if we need more of the larger co-located common area trash and recycling bins?

Additional common area bins can be requested through your Building Services Supervisor.

Why is UGA doing this?

1. It saves time for FMD staff, allowing them to focus on more critical cleaning tasks.

UGA Facilities Management Division is operating with reduced Building Services staffing due to state budget cuts. This relatively minor process change will enable FMD staff time to be redirected to increased cleaning and disinfecting of common areas and restrooms. Collectively, UGA Building Service Workers spend approximately 29,000 hours per year emptying deskside waste bins (or the equivalent of 14.5 full-time employees). Each occupant who manages their own office waste materials creates valuable time for frontline staff to ensure safe and healthy indoor environments.

2. The program reduces waste and associated costs.

When individuals take an active role in their deskside waste management, they gain greater visibility of the materials they generate. This typically results in better informed choices, less waste, and decreased landfill tipping fees for UGA.

3. The program reduces plastic in the environment.

UGA purchases and landfills more than 173,000 deskside trash bags annually. The Deskside Waste Reduction System eliminates the use of plastic liners, which reduces material costs to UGA and helps keep plastic pollution out of the environment.

REcycling: Know Before You Throw

Athens-Clarke County uses single stream recycling, which allows UGA to collect clean paper, plastic, cardboard, metal, and glass all together in our recycling bins. Mixed Recyclables bins are paired with Landfill bins in nearly all UGA buildings and at convenient outdoor locations all over campus.

Visit the Athens-Clarke County web site for detailed guidance on recyclable items. 

hard to recycle materials

Items that are technically recyclable but are not allowed in the single stream are considered Hard to Recycle Materials. Common ones found at UGA are polystyrene foam (Styrofoam), shredded paper, film plastics, batteries, electronics, toner cartridges, furniture, hardcover books, and outdated electronic media. Many of these items can be taken to the Athens-Clarke County Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM), some are handled internally by UGA, and some have other options. Styrofoam egg cartons and clean food and drink containers can be recycled at Publix Supermarkets.

If you need help with large items or large quantities, email recycle@uga.edu to receive an automatic reply with instructions for entering a work request.

If you have surplus UGA property (inventoried or not) that you no longer need, consider posting it to the Surplus Property Listserv. You can join by sending your name and UGA email address to property@uga.edu. This streamlines the surplus property transfer between UGA personnel and keeps excess inventory from the landfill.


Batteries are collected in a “Universal Waste” container for recycling. Ask your building services supervisor for the location of the battery recycling bucket in your building. Personal batteries are also accepted at the CHaRM for a fee.

According to the EPA, alkaline batteries are allowed in the landfill. The CHaRM will accept both rechargeable and alkaline batteries from UGA and community members. Alkaline battery recycling is not available in most communities due to a costly and labor intensive recycling process. While ACC does not prefer to receive alkaline batteries, they accept these materials in order to keep them out of the landfill. We encourage individuals to use rechargeable batteries when possible.

Electronic Media (CDs, DVDs, etc...)

Video tapes, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, and other “technotrash” can be sent at your department’s expense to GreenDisk.


If the electronics are the property of the State or UGA they must be brought to UGA Surplus located in the Chicopee Complex at the corner of Broad and First Streets. Items are made available for reuse by other departments on campus, donated to approved nonprofits, or sold to outside vendors.

UGA partners with the Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division to host a Recycling Happy Hour during Earth Week each spring. Cell phones, computers, TVs etc. are all accepted.

If you prefer not to wait for a collection event, please recycle your electronics at the Athens-Clarke County CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials). Note that there is a small fee to drop off televisions and monitors. Working computer equipment can also be donated to Free IT Athens.

Film Plastic

Clean film plastics such as shopping bags, deflated air bags from shipped packages, and shrink wrap can be bundled up and brought to the CHaRM, placed in the appropriate container at most supermarkets, or placed in a Bag the Bag bin in most UGA Housing residence halls. Film plastics should never go in the mixed recycling bins!


If the furniture is the property of the State or UGA it must be brought to UGA Surplus located in the Chicopee Complex at the corner of Broad and First Streets. Items are made available for reuse by other departments on campus, donated to approved nonprofits, or sold to outside vendors.

Hardcover Books

Hardcover books cannot go in the single stream unless the covers are completely removed. Intact hardcover books are accepted at the CHaRM, where they are sent to a facility where the pages and covers are separated for appropriate recycling. 


If you have a large quantity, box them up yourself and get them to your building’s loading dock. Then email recycle@uga.edu for instructions to enter a work request for pickup. Support Services will transport them to the CHaRM for you. 

Polystyrene Foam (Styrofoam)

Blocks of polystyrene can be taken to the CHaRM or to any Publix customer service desk. Polystyrene containers such as egg cartons can be taken to Publix.

Polystyrene packing peanuts should be reused where possible, or you can call the local UPS Store to ask if they will accept them. You can also call the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s Peanut Hotline at (800) 228-2214 for other options.

Note that some packing peanuts are made of cornstarch and can either be composted or dissolved in water. 

Shredded Paper

Shredded paper must always be put in a clear plastic bag and tied closed so that it does not make a mess. Most buildings on campus have a shredded paper roll cart (sometimes labeled “Office Paper Only”). These carts are collected separately from the other mixed recyclables. Bagged shredded paper can also be taken to the CHaRM.

Toner Cartridges

Preferably, use the return mailing box and label that should come with your replacement cartridge to send the old one back to the manufacturer. Otherwise, you may send cartridges via Campus Mail addressed to “KACCB – Cartridge Recycling” where it will be relayed to Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful for recycling. Finally, you may take cartridges to the CHaRM.


 Campus Compost

UGA Grounds Department operates its own industrial-scale compost facility where all campus leaf and limb waste as well as all pre- and post-consumer food scraps from UGA dining halls are turned into valuable soil amendments for campus greenspaces.

Office Compost

The Office of Sustainability runs a departmental composting program in which food scraps from break rooms (coffee grounds, fruit peels, etc.) are collected weekly, processed at the Bioconversion Center, and eventutally returned to UGArden and other campus and community gardens.  Email compost@uga.edu  to enroll in the program.

Compost for Hire

For large event composting, or if you want to compost your off-campus residential food scraps but don’t have room to do it yourself, contact Let Us Compost to learn more about the services that they offer.

deskside recycling system

Employees who opt into the Self-Service Deskside Recycling System commit to managing their own office waste and recycling.Employees who wish to opt into the Self-Service Deskside Recycling System can ask their Building Supervisor to enact the change. Participants will give up their traditional wastebasket in exchange for a 7-gallon bin for mixed recyclables and a small side-saddle for landfill items. In addition, participants commit to empty both bins as needed into the appropriate recycling and landfill bins in a hallway or other common area near their office.

This system reduces the amount of plastic bags used for office waste, helps participants to be more mindful of the things they discard, and frees up Building Service Workers to focus on other tasks.

 If you don’t know who your Building Supervisor is, ask your department’s Facilities liaison.

We used to purchase fancy new water bottles to give away at events. This was really expensive and encouraged more things to be produced. We found out that members of the UGA community leave behind hundreds of bottles each year in study rooms, workout spaces, and computer labs. We work with UGA Dining Services to sanitize the bottles, we put a sticker on them, and hand them out at events. Did you receive one of our reconditioned bottles? Send us a pic @sustainable_uga and let us know how you like it!