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Caltech's commitment to waste reduction and recycling spans over 40 years. In the early 1960s a small recycling program was run by a number of volunteer graduate students. In 1979, one of the student volunteers, Professor Judith Cohen, returned to campus as a faculty member and petitioned the administration to establish a recycling center. The recycling center was run by Professor Cohen and a number of student volunteers.

Eventually, in 1989, a group of students created the Caltech Environmental Task Force (CETF). However, school and workload demands created challenges, and in order to continue with a consistent program, the Campus Recycling Program operations became the responsibility of the Buildings and Grounds Department. A recycling facility was built in 1993 and the recycling program has continued to divert waste resources from the landfill and serve as a model for other organizations.

Program Goals

• Minimize the overall quantity of waste generated.
• Minimize the negative environmental impacts of solid-waste management.
• Maximize campus community involvement.
• Educate the campus community to reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle.
• Improve measurements and standardize reporting practices.
• Integrate source-reduction, reuse, repair, and recycling programs into all phases of
  campus activities.

Resources Collected

Items are collected in categories: white paper, mix paper, newspaper, corrugated cardboard, newsprint, telephone books, magazines, aluminum, tin, glass, lab glass, platic and chipboard.

Program administration

Recycling on campus is provided by the Buildings and Grounds department. Two recycling specialists, one lift-truck, and a forklift are utilized to collect recyclables from campus buildings and consolidate the items in the recycling center. The recyclables are processed by Allan Company.

Buildings on campus have recycling bins. These bins are found in hallways, offices, laboratories, lunchrooms, mailbox, and photocopy areas. All bins are emptied by recycling personnel weekly. Cardboard recycling containers are located next to garbage dumpsters throughout the campus.

Office staff is also provided with small wastebasket size containers to store recyclable material, and are responsible for taking their material to the nearest recycling bin.

Requests for recycling bins should be directed to the Building and Grounds Department at (626) 395-4738. Please specify the type of bin needed.

Computer Equipment Recycling

Computer equipment recycling is provided to campus personnel only. Campus personnel who have items for recycling should contact transportation at (626) 395-4703, between the hours of 7:30 am and 4:00 pm, to make arrangements for pick up of the items. Computer equipment is not to be left on loading docks or dumpster areas as computer monitors need to be handled through the hazardous waste program.

How are students, faculty, and staff educated?

A variety of outreach programs are used to educate the campus community about reducing, reusing, and recycling; such as new student and employee orientation, the student's newspaper, and a number of campus sustainability events.

Recycling Center Location

The Recycling Center is located in building 125 (see campus map). (Access to the center is through the parking lot north of Broad Center; entrances are located off of Michigan and Wilson). Recycling Center Layout.

Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday  8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Closed on Holidays

Items Accepted

White paper, newspaper, cardboard, mixed paper, colored paper,  high density plastic (HDPE), California Redemption Value (CRV), CRV aluminum, CRV glass, CRV plastic, magazines, phone directories and tin.

Recycling Dos and Don'ts

Material Do Include Do NOT Include
White Paper Bond white paper, computer paper, letterhead stationery, calculator tape, photocopies, typing and white scratch paper, and paper with black and blue ink only Envelopes with plastic windows, fax carbonless (NCR) paper, post-it notes, catalogs
Mixed Paper Colored bond paper and colored
photocopy, envelopes, file folders, fax paper, post-it notes, posterboard
White bond paper, magazines, telephone books, newspaper, cardboard
Newsprint Newspaper only No plastic bags, plastic ties, wire, string, telephone books
Aluminum CRV Most soda cans No aluminum foil, metal, tin cans, scrap metal
Tin Most food cans (rinse first) No aluminum foil, metal, motor oil cans
Glass Most food and beverage containers No window glass, pyrex, lab glass, led glass, mirror glass, ceramics
Cardboard Corrugated cardboard boxes (cut or flattened) No particle board, poster board, cereal boxes, chip board
Magazines/Catalogs Magazines, catalogs, glossy or coated paper, ground wood content paper No telephone books
Telephone Books Telephone books and campus directories only Magazines or catalogs
Plastic Most beverage containers. Sort in
containers by grade 1-7. Rinse whenever possible
No motor oil containers
Chip Board Most cardboard, juice boxes, food/Cereal containers No corrugated cardboard

For more information about the Caltech Recycling Program, call:
Buildings and Grounds (626) 395-4738 or (626) 395-4481.