Office of Energy and Sustainability

Commingled Recycling Program

Oberlin College has a commingled recycling program, which means that you can dispose of your recyclables in the same blue bin.

Accepted items in the blue bin

  • Phone books
  • Newspapers & inserts
  • Magazines and catalogs
    • Remove staples prior to recycling
  • Mixed paper, junk mail, and envelopes
    • Remove plastic window from envelope if applicable
  • Paper bags & cardboard tube from paper towel rolls
    • Not paper towels
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Box board (cereal boxes)
  • Cardboard
    • Please remove packing materials and breakdown boxes before recycling. This is important so boxes do not take up too much space in the dumpster.

*Important note: Republic Services asks recyclers to make sure all paper pieces are larger than a credit card.

There is a common misconception that any item labeled with the “chasing arrows” logo is recyclable. This is not true; the arrows are merely an indication of what kind of plastic is being used. If you look closer, each chasing arrows has a number between 1 and 7 inside the triangle.

Many plastics are not recyclable because of certain chemicals used, or because different kinds of plastics can't be recycled together.

Oberlin’s recycling program accepts only plastics #1 and #2, in the form of food, beverage, and detergent containers that have necks

three arrows point clockwise in a triangle around '1' #1: PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

This plastic is generally considered the easiest plastic to recycle.

  • Commonly found in soda and water bottles, medicine containers, and some food packaging. 
  • Can be recycled into fibers or polar fleece.

three arrows point clockwise in a triangle around '2' #2: HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

This plastic is usually colored or opaque, it is very hard-wearing, and doesn’t break down easily in sun exposure or extreme temperatures. 

  • Commonly found in milk jugs and detergent bottles.
  • Can be recycled into plastic lumber, more bottles, drainage pipes or plastic raised garden beds. 

How to recycle these plastics?

  • Make sure to empty and rinse all bottles and jugs of food or soap residue.
  • Squeeze the air out of the bottle to conserve space.
  • Place the cap back on. Do not recycle caps by themselves, they are too small. 
  • Place in the recycling bin.

  • Metal cans and aluminum cans are the only metals accepted in Oberlin’s recycling program. This includes soup cans and soda cans.
  • Make sure to empty and rinse all cans before placing them in the recycling bin. Crushing cans before recycling them will help make space for more items in the bins. 

  • Plastic bags & wraps
  • #3-#7 plastics 
  • Aluminum and metal pans
  • Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or foam packaging 
  • Glass
    • Glass is not accepted by Oberlin’s commingled recycling program, but there is a separate glass recycling program. Please refer to the section above to learn about the Glass Recycling Program. 

When in doubt, throw it out. This helps avoid contamination in recycling bins.

Special Collections (collected elsewhere on campus, not accepted in the blue bins)

The Office of Energy and Sustainability  collects special items such as CFL lightbulbs, printer cartridges, some e-waste, bike tires, and takes them to the Lorain County Collection Center for recycling.

View the list of items accepted items

Accepted items are collected at the Office of Energy and Sustainability  in the Service Building (room 208). Contact if you need help transporting items to the office.


In spring 2023, Oberlin College and Conservatory began a partnership with Cleveland-based Repeat Glass to recycle glass on campus. Driven by students, this new initiative is open to all members of the Oberlin College community. Students, faculty, and staff can bring clean glass to three drop-off locations on campus:

  • Behind Harkness (west side)
  • Behind Wilder (north side)
  • Union Goldsmith housing complex (in the waste corral on the west side)

Look for the blue “Repeat Glass” bins with yellow lids. All colors and sizes of glass are accepted. All glass should be placed loose in the bins, please do not bag any material.


Institutionally owned electronic equipment is recycled through CIT. Visit their website to check what is accepted and fill out a request form for your items to be collected. 

View the list of items accepted items

If you have electronic equipment not institutionally owned, please contact the Office of Energy and Sustainability to recycle your items. 

Printer Cartridges

Used printer cartridges that have a return box and printing label should be put back in the box and either brought to the shipping department in the Service Building or requested for pick up through a work order.

If a printer cartridge cannot be sent back to the manufacturer, the Office of Energy and Sustainability (OES) collects these and brings them to a collection center in Elyria. Please drop your cartridges off at the OES office in the Service Building. 



Certain items that are not accepted through general commingled recycling at Oberlin can still be recycled in the Terracycle collection bins located in Wilder Lobby. These products are then shipped to Terracycle facilities that clean, sort, and ultimately recycle the products back into raw materials. Products need not be cleaned prior to drop off.

Accepted items

Oral care (any brand)
  • Floss containers
  • Toothbrush outer packaging
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste cartons
  • Toothpaste tubes and caps
Razors (any brand)
  • Razor blades
  • Razors
  • Razor packaging
Brita products
  • Brita filters
  • Brita packaging
  • Brita bottles and caps
  • Brita flexible plastic pouches
  • Brita containers

Still dont see what you want to recycle? Visit the Waste Wizard to find out how to properly dispose of your items in Oberlin. 

In 2020, commingled recycling stopped for the entire city of Oberlin, which included the College. This was partly due to the US no longer being able to export materials for recycling. This has changed how recycling operates in the US, which increased the price of recycling.

The City of Oberlin has since resumed its recycling collection services. Commingled recycling, prior to spring 2023, was not on Oberlin College campus due to high levels of contamination of non-recyclable materials in the recycling collected. As Oberlin College rolls out a recycling program again, it is important that we pay attention to what we put in our recycling bins so as not to contaminate recycling loads.