General Recycling - NIU - Green Team

General Recycling

Convenience is always the key to any successful recycling program.

“Commingle,” or single stream recycling does not require the sorting of items as long as all of the items are approved recyclables. Instead, the sorting is done by the recyclers. With commingled recycling service, all of your approved recyclables can be tossed into one easy-to-use recycle bin. NIU provides adequate recycling bins next to all designated areas in order to ensure that there is always a convenient choice between trash and recycling.

Are you wondering how it's all sorted? Check out Waste Management's video on what happens to your recycling. 

Unsoiled paper products, all unbroken glass bottles, unsoiled cardboard and paper, all mixed paper and books including those with bindings and staples, aluminum cans, and all plastics are accepted excluding plastics bags, packaging and Styrofoam. All items must be empty of liquids or food waste.



  • Acceptable
    • Plastic bottles labeled with numbers 1 & 2
    • Any unsoiled plastic with recycling symbol or RID number 1-7
    • Juice boxes
    • 6 pack/12 pack rings
  • Not acceptable
    • Styrofoam
    • Plastic wrap and packaging
    • Plastic bags (can be recycled at local grocery stores)


  • Acceptable
    • Alumninum foil
    • Beverage cans
    • Disposable baking pans
    • Food cans
    • Food can lids
    • Staples and paper clips
  • Not acceptable
    • Dirty alumninum foil
    • Steel pieces
    • All other metals


  • Acceptable
    • Clear
    • Brown
    • Tinted and colored
  • Not acceptable
    • Broken glass (safety reasons)
    • Cookware
    • Lightbulbs
    • Window glass

Mixed Paper

  • Acceptable
    • Envelopes - open window - labeled inter-office
    • Junk mail
    • Magazines
    • Newspapers
    • Notebooks
    • Office paper (white, colored, ledger)

Mixed Paper, con't

  • Acceptable
    • Office paper (computer paper, glossy, carbonless, or NCR)
    • Paperback books
    • Post-it Notes
    • Telephone books
    • Cardboard (must be flattened)
    • Corrugated paper cartons

Mixed Paper, con't

  • Not Acceptable
    • Paper cups
    • Carbon paper
    • Dark-colored paper
    • Facial tissue
    • Hand towels
    • Hardcover books (unless cover is removed)
    • Wax paper


Plastics come in many varieties and utilize a numbering system from 1-7. Plastics accepted in typical recycling programs are #1, #2 and #5. #1 and #2 are clear beverage containers and #5 are typically yogurt and cottage cheese containers. At NIU, we recycle all plastics, numbers 1-7.  Any plastic with an RID number also is recyclable through Waste Management with the exception of polystyrene (Styrofoam). Polystyrene, plastic bags, and most plastic packaging are not recyclable. Hard plastic caps are also not recyclable. 


Make sure paper recyclables are dry, wrapped in twine or in a paper bag, and contain no plastic or other materials before placing them in a recycle bin. Acceptable recycle bin paper includes newspapers, printer paper, junk mail, magazines, notebooks, cardboard and phone books. There are some papers that will not be accepted, such as food contaminated paper, wax paper, wax milk cartons, carbon paper, and etc. Tissues and used paper towels are not recyclable. At NIU, there are some recycling bins specifically for paper, but paper and cardboard can also be mixed in our single stream recycling system.


All colored glass is recyclable: brown, green, clear, etc. Pyrex glass, window glass, and ceramics are not recyclable in our program. Broken glass should NOT be placed in the recycling bin for safety reasons. Most glass that is recycled at curbside in your recycle bin is bottle glass. Other types may require a local recycle hauler to come to your home and pick it up.


The vast majority of aluminum recycling consists of aluminum beverage containers. Make sure they are empty and clean. Other types of aluminum are acceptable if they have been imprinted with a recycling symbol and are small enough to fit in the recycling bin.


Other materials such as motor oil, batteries, tires, and toxic items, must be recycled elsewhere. It is best to find a reputable hauler who can be trusted to recycle those materials properly. See our Community Resources page for further information on ways to recycle various materials.