Recycling programs

Towards zero waste

UBC is aspiring to be a zero-waste campus—where all unwanted products and materials will be treated as resources that can be used again. To help achieve this goal, UBC is replacing garbage cans will multi-bin recycling stations. Targets to divert garbage away from landfills are also being developed as part of the Zero Waste Action Plan.

Our goal is to divert 60% of our operational waste from the landfill by 2016, and 80% by 2020; but to do it we need your help.

Reuse it before you recycle it

You may want to list your item on reuse-it! UBC. This virtual online warehouse is designed to assist UBC employees at the Point Grey campus to find and exchange low-value items of $1,000 or less between departments (e.g. furniture, audio-visual equipment, office supplies, etc.).

What goes where

Use recycling stations to sort your food scraps and recyclables into the proper bins.  For a comprehensive sorting guide please see the What Goes Where page on the UBC Sustainability website.

Deskside recycling

The deskside recycling program challenges people to take responsibility for reducing their waste.

The Wastefree program consists of deskside units (a blue paper recycling bin and black garbage attachment) which are designed to reflect the typical office waste stream – 85% paper and 15% landfill waste.

  • one Waste Free Unit is placed at each workstation, replacing the regular garbage can
  • the occupant of each workstation is responsible for emptying their blue recycling bin and black garbage container into nearest multi-stream recycling station

There are now over 5,000 WasteFree units at workstations across campus!

Why participate?

Sorting food scraps and recyclables out of the garbage means these materials will be used again, and not sent to the landfill.

Garbage rotting in landfills increases the risk of soil, water and air pollution, and creates the greenhouse gas methane which is twenty times worse than carbon dioxide (C02).  Garbage is often caused by contamination, created when certain materials are mixed into the wrong bin and cannot be removed.  This makes it hard to recycle properly because an otherwise reuseable resource has to be sent to the landfill.

Special item recycling


Office furniture, fluorescent tubes, and other special items

Just because it cannot go into the gray/blue bins or special items station does not mean it can’t be reused or recycled. Below is a list of some other special items that can be recycled:

  • office furniture
  • fluorescent tubes
  • scientific equipment
  • paint
  • metal
  • antifreeze
  • styrofoam egg cartons
  • large batteries

Fluorescent tubes and batteries are sent to off-campus facilities that recycle the materials to ensure that we do not further contribute to the landfill mass. Other items, such as office furniture, can be collected for re-use.

Please contact your Facilities Manager to find out how your building can recycle special items. You can also contact our office with your questions about recycling special items that are either not listed above or not formally collected by UBC.

More information on specialized recycling is also available on the Risk Management Services website.

Hazardous Waste Management

Risk Management Services coordinates the disposal of hazardous waste materials through the Environmental Services Facility (ESF). Here, laboratory wastes and hazardous materials generated by the University through research, academic and operational activities are consolidated, recycled, re-used, neutralized and/or disposed. Please contact RMS for more detail on dealing with hazardous waste.

Recycled products

Recycling at UBC has increased each and every year since the late 1980’s, and we are aiming to meet our 55% per capita waste reduction target by 2010. While lifestyle changes might not always be easy, they are an essential component of our drive for achieving a sustainable campus environment.

Recycling and waste reduction does not end at the blue box. Buying products with recycled content creates a demand for these items while sending a clear message to manufacturers – make recycled products affordable and available. Re-use materials as much as you can before recycling them, make yourself aware of what can be produced from recycled materials, and then buy recycled to close the waste reduction loop!

Recycled material Possible finished products
anti-freeze recycled anti-freeze
batteries (automotive) lead, plastic
cardboard boxboard, linerboard
fluorescent lamps mercury, aluminum
glass bottles, jars, architectural blocks and tiles, drain rock
gypsum gypsum wallboard
mattresses remanufactured mattresses
metal (beverage and food cans) cans, auto parts, steel beams, industrial products
newspaper newsprint, telephone books, insulation
styrofoam packing chips reused packing material
tires rubber mats, paving bricks, running tracks, mud guards
used oil re-refined motor oil
paper recycled writing, photocopy and tissue paper, linerboard, egg cartons, roofing paper, low grade writing paper
plastic non-food containers, auto parts, carpets, fleece jackets, plastic wood products
used oil filters re-refined motor oil, metal, rubber