Recycling and Composting


Recycling at Houghton is simple and convenient, with blue recycling bins located everywhere on campus. Recycling saves energy and money, prevents pollution, supports public health, and creates jobs. It also helps create a closed-loop system where unwanted materials are returned to manufacturers to create new products. 

All recycling at Houghton goes in the blue, “zero sort” recycling bins.

See below for a complete list of items accepted for recycling by Casella (Houghton’s waste and recycling service).

Rigid plastics

Examples: Plastic bottles, jugs, tubs, and lids

Recycling tips: Make sure everything is clean and dry. Put the caps back on so they won’t slip through the cracks in the sorting equipment. No bags or other flimsy plastics please!


Examples: Office and scrap paper, newspaper, magazines, junk mail

Recycling tips: Staples and envelope windows are OK. No books please! (Try donating them instead). Please remove metal rings from spiral notebooks.


Examples: Shipping boxes, cereal boxes, clean pizza boxes, paper towel and toilet paper rolls

Recycling tips: Flatten the boxes to save space in the blue bins. No waxy coatings or greasy pizza boxes, please!

Metal cans

Examples: Soda cans, soup and vegetable cans, tin foil

Recycling tips: All containers should be empty, clean, and dry. Ball up your clean foil. No miscellaneous scrap metal please!

Glass bottles and jars

Examples: Beverage containers, condiment jars

Recycling tips: All containers should be empty, clean, and dry. No pyrex or broken glass.

The following items are NOT recyclable at Houghton:

  • Plastic bags or wrappers
  • Used napkins or paper towels
  • Scrap metal
  • Batteries
  • Electronic waste
  • Plastic-lined paper items (e.g. waxed coffee cups)
  • Styrofoam


Compostable items include all plant-based food waste, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. Paper napkins are also acceptable. Students may request a free, loaner compost container from the Center for Sustainability for your floor or townhouse. 

Please do NOT place any animals products (including meat or dairy), liquids, or “compostable” dish ware in the compost bins. While these may break down in industrial composters, they do not work well in our pile system.

Where to compost?

Big Al's

Customers using Big Al's or Java may dump any plant-based compostable items in the green compost bin near the dipping sauces in Big Al's. Please put ONLY compostable material in this bin--no animal products or liquids!

Compost Pile

Our compost pile is located in the townhouse parking lot near the dumpsters. Be sure to dump compost only in the bay with the green signed labeled "ALL FOOD SCRAPS GO HERE." Additionally, please remember to close and latch the gate when exiting. Houghton community members are also welcome to dump their compostable material here.

Dorm Tumblers

Students in the residence halls can use the compost tumblers located near your garbage dumpsters. Add new compost to the side marked with a *plus* symbol.  The side marked with a *clock* is for ageing compost.  Remember to turn the compost a few times when you add new material.