Know Before You Throw

Athens-Clarke County uses single stream recycling, which allows UGA to collect plastic, paper, 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. The bins are color coded green for Mixed Recyclables and black for Landfill so there is a consistent visual message everywhere.

Below is a definitive guide to what can and can't go in the recycling bins. See the results of the 2017 Recycling Survey here.

Mixed recyclables bin on the left and landfill bin on the right

Recycling Bin


Any clean, rigid plastic container with resin code 1 through 7. 


Office paper (not shredded), magazines, junk mail, softcover books, phone books, catalogs, newspapers, and paper bags. 


Clean, flattened cardboard and paperboard boxes. If a pizza box is greasy on bottom but the lid is clean, tear the lid off for recycling and throw the rest in the landfill bin.  


Clean aluminum or steel cans, clean aluminum food trays, and balled up aluminum foil.


Clean glass jars and bottles with lids and caps removed. 

Drink Cartons

Empty and clean juice boxes or milk cartons.


Landfill Bin or Other

When in doubt, throw it out.

“When in doubt, throw it out” sounds counter-intuitive to recycling, but if the following items are mixed with recyclables they contaminate the load, and may cause an entire truck of recyclables to be rejected at the sorting facility.

Food and liquids can ruin other recyclables when mixed together and they attract pests at the sorting facility. Empty and rinse or wipe out containers, or throw them in the landfill bin if you can't. See our compost page to see what you can do with food scraps.

These are not considered recyclable paper and should either be put in the landfill bin or composted.

This includes paper or Styrofoam cups for hot or cold drinks. However, plastic cups like red or blue Solo cups may go in the recycling bin as long as they're empty.

Please bring reusable cups or mugs with you if you don't like throwing cups away.

Plastic bags and any stretchy or flexible film plastics jam up and potentially damage equipment at the sorting facility. See our hard to recycle materials page to learn what you can do with film plastics.

Shredded paper makes a huge mess when mixed with other recyclables. Shredded paper should only go into rollcarts marked "Paper Only" or "Shredded Paper" located in most buildings on campus. See our hard to recycle materials page for more information.

Styrofoam should be kept out of the single stream recycling bin. Styrofoam blocks, packing peanuts, clean food and drink containers can recycled elsewhere. See our hard to recycle materials page for more information.

It does not matter if you are sure they're clean, laboratory items are strictly prohibited from the recycling stream. While this may disappoint many, it is far more important to avoid the risk of inadvertent exposure to chemical or biological hazards for someone who handles or sorts the recyclables.