Recycle @ UM

Waste Bin, Labeling & Standardization Initiative

The Waste Bin Standardization Initiative is an effort to standardize waste bins, labels and signage across campus in order to make it easier for the University community to properly and confidently divert waste from landfills.

The University of Michigan began recycling in 1989 and the program has seen a number of changes in its almost 30 years:

  • 1989: Newspapers are the only item collected for recycling.
  • 1990-1994: The program expands to collect cardboard, office paper and newspapers, all separately.
  • 1995: Plastic bottles and metal cans can be recycled, but separately from the now mixed types of paper.
  • 2010: All recyclables can be collected together.
  • 2015: Zero waste events and operations begin, requiring another type of collection.

As a result from this established, yet changing program, a wide variety of waste bins, signs and labels are present in buildings across the University. A faculty-led committee, that included students and staff, determined that in order to build upon our culture of sustainability here at U-M, waste bins, labels and signs should be consist no matter where at the University someone is located.

In 2016, another committee was charged with developing these standards. This group of faculty, students and staff drew upon best-practices literature and knowledge of the University’s opportunities to develop a series of standards that will transform the look of waste collection and improve the confidence with which community members divert their waste.

Details on the scope of the project can be found in the Project Scope documentation.

Details on the standards can be found in the Standardization Documentation.

While these standards will be followed as closely as possible, we do know that there will be some required exceptions. These will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Questions or concerns? Please contact the Waste Reduction & Recycling Office at
Content modified: Feb 16, 2017