Office of Environmental Sustainability

Oberlin College Recycling

Recent changes to campus recycling.

The City of Oberlin recently ceased its collection of commercial recycling with the exception of cardboard. Oberlin College was an active participant of the City’s program. Starting in February 2021, the City will be removing commercial recycling dumpsters throughout campus. Oberlin College will now only have cardboard and paper recycling dumpsters on campus which are clearly labeled. Paper retriever bins are found in Service Building/Mudd and Stevenson lots. Corrugated cardboard will be collected in kitchen and academic facilities only and labelled accordingly. List below.

Oberlin College wants to handle all materials responsibly and practice our sustainability commitment. The College is exploring options to resume recycling for other curb-side recyclables. 

At present, the College has material collection programs for scrap metal, ink and toner cartridges, electronics, oral care (toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, etc.), construction waste, and compost. These special collection programs continue. See below.

Material recovery (recycling) has seen a lot of fluctuation in recent years confusing individuals and organizations alike. This blog post explains more. 

Previously, the City of Oberlin hauled Oberlin College’s recyclables to the nearby Republic recycling facility as well as trash to the landfill. Republic charges more for recycling than for waste disposal. When a recycling load is contaminated, the fee is even greater and the load is taken to the landfill. This made recycling an economic hardship for the City.

The College will work with the local governments, organizations, and environmentally-responsible companies to find solutions to increase waste diversion for common items.

Special Collections

Special recycling collections are for materials that can be recycled but not in a typical curb-side program. Progress is being made in this area, more details to come. 


Corrugated cardboard (which has a ribbed filling inside two thin sheets of cardboard) is being collected in select academic and dining facilities:

  • Harkness
  • Hotel at Oberlin
  • Kohl
  • Lord Saunders
  • Rice/King
  • Stevenson
  • Talcott
  • Wilder

Please break down/flatten boxes.

Note: Waxed cardboard boxes cannot be put in cardboard dumpsters. If you are unsure if your cardboard is shiny or waxed, run your fingernail across the side of the box. If a layer of wax peels off, it is waxed and not recyclable.

Paper for recycling can be taken to the green-and-yellow Paper Retriever bins around campus, located in the Stevenson/Mudd parking lot or the Stevenson/Keep parking lot. Paper from these dumpsters is picked up by Abitibi Consolidated, a company that pays us for our recycled paper. These dumpsters will accept all office paper and newspaper and even cardboard.

Also, look for the blue containers marked Nothing Personal near the printers in campus computer rooms. One-sided office paper collected there will be turned into notepads and made available to students free by the RCT. Place paper blank side up.