Recycling and Waste Diversion at MU


The University of Missouri has two recycling streams – container recycling and paper recycling – which should be separated when disposed of.  Recyclable containers include #1-7 plastics (with some exceptions: see list below), glass bottles, and metal cans.  Recyclable paper includes regular paper, paperboard (e.g. cereal boxes), soft-bound books, newspaper, etc.; see list below for what is unacceptable. Cardboard should be broken down and placed next to the common area bins.

Container Recycling – List of acceptable and unacceptable items

NOTE: Please rinse food waste from containers before recycling

Plastic #1-7 (numbers are found on the bottom or side of the container typically inside chasing arrows)

  • Water bottles

  • Juice and other drink bottles

  • Plastic lids

  • Plastic take-out containers

  • Yogurt containers (take foil lid off)

  • NO Styrofoam

  • NO plastic grocery bags

  • NO plastic films (e.g. plastic wrap, Ziploc baggies)

  • NO chip bags

Metal containers

  • Aluminum, steel and tin cans

  • NO aluminum foil

  • NO pie tins

Glass containers (clear and colored)

  • Glass bottles

  • NO lightbulbs

  • NO mirrors or window glass

  • NO glass cups

NO waxy paper milk/juice cartons

NO paper coffee cups


Paper Recycling – List of acceptable and unacceptable items

NOTE: Wet and/or oily paper is unacceptable in paper recycling. Please place in the trash.

Mixed office paper

  • Office/copy paper

  • Envelopes (including window envelopes)

  • Cardstock

  • Newsprint

  • Magazines

  • Post-It Notes

  • Shredded paper (should be placed in a paper bag if possible)

Other paper

  • Paperboard (e.g. cereal boxes)

  • Soft-bound books

  • NO hard-bound books

  • NO copy paper wrappers

  • NO waxy paper or carbon paper

  • NO paper cups, plates, food trays, or napkins

Cardboard Recycling

NOTE: Please break down boxes before placing next to the common area bins. Cardboard can also be brought to outside to metal containers labeled “Fiber Only” found outside most buildings.

  • All corrugated cardboard

  • NO pizza boxes (the top can be recycled if clean and detached from the bottom)

  • NO paperboard (place in paper recycling)

  • NO paper to-go containers

Food is always unacceptable in recycling bins. Please place all food items in the trash.


Recycling Other Items

Electronic Waste (E-waste)

Electronic waste should never be thrown in the trash! Personal items can be brought to an e-waste drive to be recycled. Throughout the year, several e-waste drives are held to collect these items. Sustain Mizzou, a student organization, holds drives during the fall and spring semesters; dates and other information can be found here. The department of Environmental Health and Safety and the City of Columbia occasionally hold e-waste drives as well. If you would rather discard of items without waiting for a drive, you can drop them off at Mid-MO Recycling. Items that were bought with University funds should be sent to MU Surplus Properties.

Acceptable items at an e-waste drive:

  • Anything with a cord

  • Anything with batteries

  • Extra cords

  • Rechargeable batteries (cell phone and laptop batteries)

  • NO alkaline batteries (these can be thrown away)

  • NO tube TV’s (can accept with a $10 payment)


Ink/Toner Cartridges

Personal ink cartridges can be placed in the RecyclInk receptacles around campus. The main receptacle location is in the south entrance of the Student Center.  Call the Sustainability Office (573-882-8207) for more locations.

Departmental toner cartridges should be recycled through the MU Distribution Center. The toner pickup request form can be found here.



Some batteries should be recycled because of the toxic elements that can leach into the ground when dumped into landfills. MU has convenient battery box locations around campus where you can bring your used batteries to.  See the PDF at the end of this page for detailed procedures and information about battery recycling at Mizzou.

For a detailed map of the battery box locations found on campus, follow these steps:

  1. Follow this link to MU’s interactive map.
  2. Zoom in to the area that you’d like to drop off your batteries
  3. Click on “Legend and Map Display” in the left-hand drop-down menu.
  4. Click on the “More” tab.
  5. Click “More Layers: Off” to turn the extra layers on.
  6. Uncheck the “Emergency Phones” and “Bike Racks” to find a convenient battery box location.

Acceptable batteries to be recycled:

  • Lithium (found in consumer electronics)
  • Lead Acid (found in various electrical equipment)
  • Nickel-Cadmium (found in some power tools)
  • Nickel Metal Hydride (found in various consumer electronics)

Unacceptable batteries:

  • Alkaline (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V)
    • Discard with regular trash
  • Button (found in watches, hearing aids, calculators)
    • EHS collects: call for pickup (573-882-3736)
  • Lithium (found in non-rechargeable consumer electronics)
    • EHS collects: call for pickup (573-882-3736)
  • Leaking lead acid
    • EHS collects: call for pickup (573-882-3736)


Plastic Bags

Plastic bags and other plastic films are NOT accepted in the regular recycling bins around campus but they can be recycled at special locations around town. Click here to find your nearest drop-off location. Here is a brief list of acceptable items:

  • Grocery bags (and other bags labeled #2 and #4)
  • Newspaper, dry cleaning, bread, and produce bags
  • Zip close food storage bags (clean and dry)
  • Plastic cereal box liners (do not include if it tears like paper)
  • Tyvek shipping envelopes, bubble wrap, air pillows
  • Product wrap (on paper towels, toilet paper, etc)



Please contact Campus Facilities Customer Service at 573-882-8211 to discuss options for recycling metal.


Furniture/Large Equipment (University Owned)

MU Surplus Properties collects all university-owned furniture/equipment for disposal, re-distribution or sale.  A Disposal Request must be completed and approved before items can be picked up.


Household Hazardous Wastes (Personal)

These wastes are called “hazardous” for a reason; please don’t throw them away with your regular trash.  The City of Columbia hosts household hazardous waste collections from 8 am to 12 noon on the first and third Saturdays from April to November.  The collection takes place at 1313 Lakeview, Columbia, MO 65201. If you are uncertain of what is considered a household hazardous waste, please visit this list.

If the hazardous waste is university owned, you should contact Environmental Health and Safety.


Packing Materials

Any UPS store should accept excess packing peanuts and bubble wrap.  Click here to find a UPS near you.


Tyvek Envelopes

There are two options for Tyvek envelopes:

  • Drop them in a plastic film drop-off location around town (click here for locations)
  • Send them back to the manufacturer at this address:
    • CFS Tyvek Recycling
    • 337A Industrial Drive
    • Petersburg, Virginia 23802


Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs and halogen bulbs can be discarded with regular trash (these are the typical bulbs for household use).  Make sure to wrap them in newspaper or another protective material to avoid breaking in the trash.

CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) must be recycled because they contain a small amount of mercury.  Please visit Environmental Health and Safety's document on how to properly discard of any light bulb containing mercury:


Paper Shredding

If your documents are confidential and need to be shredded, please email the Records Center with your request at or call them at (573) 882-7652.  They provide pick-up services and will recycle the shredded material.