Recycle Guides

Three General Rules

  1. Paper can be recycled if it isn't mixed with plastic or foil, and if it isn't food soiled. Food soiled paper belongs in Food Plus Compost bins, and plastic or foil-lined paper belongs in bins labeled "trash" or "landfill."
  2. Most plastics are recyclable, including bottles, jugs, caps, cups, lids, jars, tubs, pails, and buckets in the barrels labeled "plastics" or "aluminum, plastic, glass, tin." Styrofoam and plastic bags, however, are NOT recyclable on campus.
  3. Only corrugated cardboard should go in the cardboard recycling. Items such as cereal boxes belong in "mixed paper" barrels.


Mixed Paper

Egg carton, magazine and other paper products


  • Notebook paper
  • Spiral notebooks (Metal spirals can be recycled, but plastic ones need to be removed.)
  • Computer paper
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Phone books
  • Textbooks
  • Envelopes
  • Post-it notes
  • Paperboard


  • Waxed food/drink containers (milk carton)
  • Paper coffee cups
  • Plastic notebook spirals/covers
  • Laminated paper
  • Used paper plates
  • Q-Tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Tissues
  • Used paper towels
  • Sticker backing

Plastic Containers


  • All colors and numbers 1-7 of bottles
  • Cold beverage cups & lids
  • Hot beverage lids
  • Jugs, cups, jars, tubs
  • Pails and buckets
  • Dairy, deli food, sauce/condiment & cooking oil containers without clamshell hinges
  • Soap, detergent, & household cleaner containers
  • Snack food & frozen food containers
  • Hair/body care bottles and containers


  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Thin plastic film
  • Ziploc bags

Aluminum/ Tin


  • All types of cans
  • Clean aluminum foil


  • Microwave meal boxes with foil inside
  • Metallic food wrappers



  • All colors and types of bottles accepted


  • Mirrors
  • Windows


Stack of corrugated cardboard


  • Corrugated cardboard ONLY (thick and durable)
  • Break down all of your boxes before recycling them


  • Paperboard (Cereal boxes, tissue boxes)
  • Mixed paper of any kind


Bucket of food waste


  • Food waste
  • On campus coffee cups
  • #7 plastic found on campus
  • Food soiled paper/cardboard (pizza boxes)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Parchment/Waxed Paper
  • Ice Cream Cartons
  • Small Wood Scraps
  • Milk or juice cartons that are not shelf-stable (plastic lid must be cut out)


  • Food still in packaging (unless packaging is paper)
  • Plastic (unless #7)


The following items are NOT recyclable in Bellingham:

  • Shelf-stable* milk & juice cartons
  • Paper coffee cups (these are compostable, though!)
  • Hinged/clamshell containers
  • Styrofoam
  • The following plastic products:
    • overhead transparencies
    • plastic caps
    • sticker backing
    • rings
    • pumps
    • hinged/clamshell containers
    • bags
    • wrap
    • tableware/utensils
    • pipe
    • toys
  • Insulation or plastic containers that held potentially hazardous products such as:
    • motor oil
    • antifreeze
    • solvents
    • pesticides, etc
  • Plate glass (such as mirrors or dishes)

Cartons that are foil or plastic-lined that have a long shelf life prior to opening (e.g. Tetrapak's containing alternative milk, soup, broth, etc.). Check bottom of carton if you are unsure. It usually says Tetrapak!