University of Vermont

Recycling & Waste Management

Recycling Guide

Aerosol Cans

  • Aerosol cans are separated at all food service kitchens on UVM's campus. Physical Plant staff store used aerosols in a secure area prior to pickup. Aerosols are collected by Environmental Safety staff as hazardous waste. They are then transported to the campus Environmental Safety Facility, and punctured with a special tool to remove any additional liquid remaining inside the can. The liquid is consolidated with other flammable liquids into a 55-gallon drum for safe disposal.

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  • Submit a Physical Plant Service Request to have these items picked up. Departments are charged a pick-up fee, plus a disposal charge of $10 - $50 per appliance, depending on size. Freon containing appliances are taken to the Chittenden Solid Waste District for disposal. After hazardous components are removed, the remaining appliance is recycled as scrap metal. Read more about the CSWD Hazardous Waste Environmental Depot here.

  • Appliances such as refrigerators and freezers contain hazardous refrigerants which must be recycled properly. UVM Recycling will recycle these items when departments request special pickup. Appliances must be emptied, clean, defrosted and unplugged by the owning department, prior to pickup by UVM Recycling crew. Appliances from laboratory areas must first be checked and decontaminated.

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  • Batteries are collected in the Techno Trash recycling stations throughout campus. Find the nearest Techno Trash bin

    If your department has larger quantities, request a special pickup from the Risk Management and Safety Department. Contact

  • Batteries may contain any of several heavy metals, including mercury, lead, nickel, zinc or cadmium. They may also include corrosive liquids (sulfuric acid) or reactive metals (lithium). For this reason, batteries should not be put in the regular trash or recycle bins.

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Broken Fluorescent Bulbs

  • If a fluorescent light bulb breaks, do not use a vacuum cleaner! Ventilate the area by closing interior doors and opening exterior doors or windows for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes has passed, carefully remove all materials you can:

    • Wear disposable rubber gloves, if available. Carefully scoop up the fragments and the mercury (white) powder with stiff paper or cardboard.
    • Use wide tape (duct tape) to pick up additional small glass pieces and white powder.
    • Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe.
    • Place all parts of the broken fluorescent bulb, towels and tape in a clear plastic bag - Double-bag if necessary. Seal the bag.
    • Wash your hands afterwards.

    If the bulb has broken on a carpet or rug, complete the above steps and then:

    • Take rug outside, shake and air for as long as possible.
    • If carpeted, contact Physical Plant (on campus only) to consider removing that section of carpet (especially in areas frequented by children, infants or pregnant women).
    • The first time the area is vacuumed, ventilate (as above) and remove the vacuum bag/contents immediately and seal in a plastic bag. Wipe the vacuum with wet wipe.
    • After vacuuming, keep the exterior window/door open as long as practical.

    Seal all debris, wipes and gloves in a bag and place the bag outside of the living area in an area inaccessible to children or animals.
    On-campus, contact Environmental Safety  or off-campus, contact Chittenden Solid Waste District to dispose of the "bagged debris" as well as boxed-up burned-out light bulbs from UVM residence halls and other locations.

    For more information, the Vermont Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation have published fact sheets at or call the VT Department of Health at 1-800-439-8550.

    [*The above guidance is taken from “Fact Sheet: Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs” by Vermont Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation.]

  • When a fluorescent lamp is broken, the mercury released can contaminate the air, surfaces, skin, and the environment. All broken fluorescent bulbs must be collected as hazardous waste per Vermont's Universal Waste Management Standard. This includes fluorescent lamps (even the “green” cap or low mercury type), compact fluorescent lamps, ultra-violet lamps, black light tubes, neon lights and HID bulbs.
    Broken bulbs can also cause a laceration due to the broken glass tube.  A hot broken bulb can present a burn injury.  An exposed bulb filament can present a shock hazard if handled while power remains applied to the fixture. If lamps are broken, care must be taken to minimize exposure to the dust and broken glass.

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Cans & Bottles


    • Glass bottles and jars - (food and beverage only; all colors)
    • Steel, metal or "tin" cans
    • Aluminum cans (soda, beer, etc)
    • Aluminum foil and pie plates
    • Plastic bottles and jugs (All Numbers)
    • Plastic Dairy tubs (yogurt, cottage cheese, margarine, etc.)
    • Clear plastic hinged "take out" containers
    • Hard Plastic Frozen-Food Trays
    • Plastic containers must be more than 2" on any 2 sides.
    • Plastic flower pots
    • Plastic lids larger than 2" in diameter


    • Small plastic caps or lids
    • "Bio-degradable" or PLA-plastic
    • Glass light bulbs, dishes, ceramics or drinking glasses.
    • Plastic utensils, cups or plates
    • Plastic bags or "film" plastics
    • Styrofoam cups or plates.
    • Plastic toys or household items
    • Motor oil containers (discard as trash)

  • For more detailed guidelines, visit the CSWD Recycling List.

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Cardboard & Boxboard

  • Cardboard boxes must be emptied and flattened. Place boxes next to the recycling bins inside buildings. Custodial and housekeeping staff will bring boxes to designated cardboard dumpsters located outside. Large amounts of cardboard boxes from dining and maintenance areas should be brought directly to the cardboard dumpsters outside.


    • 6-pack, 12-pack or 24-pack boxes
    • Corrugated cardboard - has the "wavy" layers inside
    • Pizza boxes are okay.
    • Soda or beer carton carriers.


    • Wax coated boxes, such as broccoli boxes.
    • "Yellow" cardboard
    • Pizza crust, food, napkins
    • Excessive packing tape or duct tape

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Cell Phones

  • Old mobile phones and phone accessories are collected on the UVM campus to benefit Women Helping Battered Women, a local Burlington non-profit organization. The collection is sponsored by the UVM Police Services department.

    Please donate your phones in the box located in the UVM Police Services lobby at 284 East Avenue. It is open and accessible to the public 24 hours a day.

  • Phones donated to the Women Helping Battered Women organization benefit them in two ways. Phones that are still in working condition are reprogrammed and provided to individuals who are victims of domestic violence. Phones that are not in working condition are recycled, with proceeds going to WHBW organization.

    Click here to open a flyer explaining this program.

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Computers / Electronic Waste


  • Concrete blocks, cement and asphalt must be separated from regular trash. Not only is this material very heavy-- which adds to waste disposal costs-- but it is a very easily recycled in Chittenden County.

    If your department has concrete blocks to be picked up, please submit a Physical Plant Service Request.

  • Old concrete blocks are taken to the A. Marcelino Company in South Burlington, where they are crushed and recycled into new aggregate materials for roads, pavement and drainage ditches.

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Confidential Paper / Shredded Paper

  • University departments must make their own arrangements for shredding confidential papers to safeguard the security of confidential information. See related UVM Policy on Records Retention. If your office shreds your own paper on site, please leave shredded paper in clear plastic bags and place next to the recycling bins in your central recycling collection area. This helps to minimize mess and litter from the little bits of paper that tend to blow around outside and at the recycling facility. The shredded paper will get recycled.

  • Departments have the option of hiring an off-campus vendor for paper shredding services. UVM Purchasing has arranged for a "preferential pricing agreement" with the following vendor. Contact the vendor directly for details, to arrange pick-up and shredding, and invoicing.

    Secure Shred
    telephone: (877) 863-3003
    Mailing Address:
    472 Meadowland Drive
    South Burlington VT

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Fluourescent Bulbs

Glass Bottles & Jars


    • Glass bottles (e.g., beer bottles, beverage, juice bottles)
    • Glass jars - (e.g., spaghetti sauce, peanut butter jars)


    • Pyrex or high-temperature glass
    • Laboratory glass
    • Plate glass, mirror or window glass.
    • Light Bulbs

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Hard Cover Books

  • Send small quantities of books in Campus Mail envelopes to:

    UVM Recycling Office
    284 East Avenue

    Larger quantities of books will be picked up by UVM Recycling staff by special request. Submit a Physical Plant Service Request to have these items picked up.

  • Hardcover books and textbooks have a glue binding and heavy backer-board which cannot be recycled with other types of paper. Books must be kept separate to be sent to a facility which chops off the bindings and hard covers one at a time.

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Kitchen Oil & Grease

  • Used cooking oil from University dining facilities is collected in large 45-gallon barrels. Dining Services staff drain off used oil from the frying machines, and carefully pour the oil into the barrels. Barrels are located at the loading dock of each dining facility.

    Used cooking oil is hauled to a New Hampshire company, Smart Fuel America, which blends it into a biofuel. The biofuel is then used to power a Brattleboro, Vermont paper mill -- the first in the nation to solely use vegetable fuels to run its plant.

  • Click here to learn more about waste vegetable oil history at UVM (Powerpoint Presentation).

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Mercury Thermometers

  • UVM has a free mercury thermometer exchange program to keep metallic mercury out of the laboratories. Go to: to learn more.

    For pickup any other mercury-containing item, use a Laboratory Waste tag and enter the tag online at

  • Mercury (metallic), also called elemental mercury or "quicksilver", is found on the UVM campus in laboratory thermometers, old thermostats, mercury switches and manometers. It can also be found in medical instruments, electrical equipment, old chest freezers, barometers and pharmaceuticals (thimerosal).

    Metallic mercury is an unusual metal because it is a liquid rather than a solid, and it slowly evaporates at room temperature, where it easily changes into a vapor. Mercury has no odor. Mercury can combine with other chemicals to form organic (carbon-containing) or inorganic mercury compounds.

    When a mercury thermometer breaks in a lab, workers can be exposed to dangerous mercury fumes. Drops of the liquid metal tend to roll quickly and become lodged in floor cracks and behind equipment. A mercury spill is more dangerous when mercury thermometers break in ovens or incubators because mercury evaporates readily at high temperatures, creating high mercury concentrations.

    Hg_switch Exposure to mercury usually occurs by breathing in mercury vapors, which are easily absorbed through the lungs into the body. Liquid mercury is not well absorbed through the skin. However, harmful absorption can occur through broken or damaged skin, or if there is lengthy skin contact.

    Most effects of mercury exposure develop slowly over time. Symptoms usually occur only after repeated overexposure. These effects include insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, and muscle tremors. Brief exposures to very high levels of mercury vapors can affect the lungs.

    Overexposure of very high levels of mercury can permanently damage any of the following: the nervous system, kidneys, lungs, eyes, nose & throat or skin. Nursing women should also avoid exposure to mercury, since inhaled mercury can enter a woman's breast milk.

    Disposal of mercury thermometers and the contaminated clean-up materials generated by a spill is very expensive.

    mad-hatterAn interesting note: In the past, mercury was used in felt hat production. Felt hat manufacturers suffered from many symptoms of high-level mercury exposure, as witnessed in the Mad Hatter character in Alice in Wonderland, and the popular phrase "mad as a hatter."

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Newspaper, Magazines & Office Paper

  • Many types of paper can be recycled together. Put these materials in any recycling bin found throughout all buildings on campus.


    • Newspapers
    • Glossy Magazines and Catalogs
    • Computer/ Copier Paper
    • Writing Paper
    • Envelopes (Windows okay)
    • Opened "Junk Mail"
    • Brochures
    • Cereal Boxes/Gray Boxboard (remove liners)
    • 6-pack, 12-pack or 24-pack soda and beer carton carriers
    • Manila Folders
    • Staples are Okay
    • Shredded Paper is Okay- please seal in plastic bag


    • Frozen or refrigerated food boxes
    • Tissues, Kleenex or paper towels
    • Photographs or resin-coated papers
    • NCR or "carbonless" paper
    Plastic transparencies or film
    • Food or candy wrappers
    • Paper cups, plates or any paper that has come in direct contact with food or the human body!
    • Rubberbands or large metal clips
    • Pendaflex Folders
    • Carbon Paper

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Packaging and Peanuts

  • We do not have a formal collection program on campus for packaging materials (such as bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts) but if your department generates a lot of this material check out the CSWD Packaging Reuse page. There are several area businesses who will gladly accept this material.

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Paint & Paint Cans

  • All oil-based paints and cans must be collected for disposal by UVM Environmental Safety.

    For latex paint (non-oil based), if there is less than 1/2 inch of paint remaining in a can, this small film can be left in an opened can to dry out.Once the paint is hardened, discard the empty can with the lid detached. (These materials can go in the scrap metal program.) Otherwise, the cans must be collected for disposal by UVM Environmental Safety.

    Rinsing Brushes and Sprayers

    If you wash latex, or other non-hazardous paint, from brushes and sprayers, do not let that rinse water flow across the ground, into the stormwater system or into surface water streams or ditches. This rinse water can go into the sanitary sewer system or through appropriate ground filters on flat areas (rock or gravel). Liquid paint cannot be disposed of this way, only rinse water from cleaning paint brushes and equipment.

    Oil paint, paint thinners and other hazardous materials are not allowed in any drain and must be collected (including the rinse) for disposal through ESF. Only rinse water from latex (and other non-hazardous paints) can go into the sanitary sewer system. Neither of the rinse is allowed in the stormwater system outside.

  • Waste paint and art supplies should not be tossed in the regular UVM trash. Paints and art supplies should be set aside for collection and disposal by UVM Environmental Safety.They are regulated waste under the hazardous waste rules of the State of Vermont.

    Many of these materials can enter the body by breathing (inhalation) solvent fumes or even directly through the skin (absorption). Eyes are often sensitive to solvents and their vapors. Oil-based coatings contain resins, solvents, pigments, and additives. Coatings, such as these, are harmful to the environment because they contain petroleum distillates and pigments. Water-based (latex) paint is less harmful to the environment and your health than oil-based paint, and should be used as a substitute whenever possible. Technological improvements to water-based paints have greatly increased their durability and protection of surfaces.

    All paint wastes are collected by Environmental Safety. Paint cans are then "labpacked" into 55-gallon metal drums, and sorted at a later date into oil-based and latex categories. Paint related containers of one-pint or less (including 8 oz. cans, tubes, inks, glues and adhesives) are labpacked into drums of "Non-Bulkable Paint Related Material." Paint related waste generated in Art classes should be set aside at the end of each semester and collected by Environmental Safety staff for proper hazardous waste disposal.

    Solvents on rags and paper towels from Printmaking Shop are disposed of as a "flammable solid." They are collected in plastic lined fireproof cans and sent our for incineration by Environmental Safety.

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Propane, Sterno and Stove Fuels

  • Sternos are collected at each food service kitchen. Sternos are separated and collected by food service staff and stored in clearly marked 15-gallon containers or 5-gallon containers in the kitchens or in their restricted loading dock areas. Sterno must not be stored outside. The storage containers must be clearly labeled because this waste is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to its flammability.

    Empty Stove Fuel canisters are collected by UVM Environmental Safety staff. Please call 656-5400 or email them at for a pickup.

  • Sterno" has become the familiar name for the flammable gel inside the small metal can used under most chafing dishes. An alcohol is added to get this saturated form of calcium acetate, a semi-solid, and a flammable gel forms that is much like "canned heat" products such as a "Sterno". Sternos can be hot when extinguishing. If you put the lids on to extinguish the flames, they can also pop violently. Sternos are a fire hazard.

    Stove Fuels are flammable. The fuel in the canisters are liquid gas or pressurized gas in small canisters or cylinders. Empty stove fuel canisters cannot go into the regular trash because they are pressurized. The metal can be recycled only if the pressure is released and the container is completely empty.

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Needles and "Sharps"

  • Needles and sharps of any kind should be collected in an approved rigid, leak proof, puncture-resistant container that can be secured to prevent spilling of contents. The Environmental Safety department sells a one-quart, 1/2 gallon and two-gallon size sharps containers for needle collection. Call ES at 656-5400 to order a collection container. Students can obtain a free sharps disposal box through the Student Health/Medical Clinic. Call the Clinic at 656-3350, or visit UHC at 425 Pearl Street and talk with a health care provider for details.

  • Sharps can cause serious puncture wounds to workers who handle the trash. They can also potentially expose individuals to viruses when skin is punctured by sharp objects contaminated with infected blood or body fluids.

    Sharps containers are locked in the closed position and placed into Biowaste boxes for safe disposal. A contracted vendor, Stericycle, Inc., provides incineration and disposal services for this and similar biomedical waste materials from UVM facilities.

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Scrap Metal

  • Metal items such as broken equipment, shelving, motors, wire and pipe must be kept separate from the regular trash.

    If your department has large amounts of scrap metal to be picked up, please submit a Physical Plant Service Request.

    Scrap metal is delivered to a scrap yard in northern Vermont where it is separated into various ferrous and non-ferrous metals for recycling.


    • Clean ferrous and non-ferrous metals
    • Steel pipe, aluminum, copper, wire, etc
    • Empty drums
    • Metal shelving, rods, rebar, etc.


    • Computers, Monitors and Electronic waste
    • Liquids, paints or oils
    • Appliances

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Surplus Furniture

  • Used surplus furniture and equipment is picked up by the UVM Recycling crew, which manages the Surplus Property program. If your department has furniture or any useful materials to be picked up, please submit a Physical Plant Service Request for a surplus pickup. There is a nominal fee for this service to cover moving costs.

  • For more information about the UVM Surplus program, to view photos of surplus items available, and to join the Surplus e-mail list, visit:

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Wood & Pallets

  • Wood and pallets can be dropped off at the Centennial Field recycling area in the designated "wood waste" box.


    • Tree parts and limbs
    • Wood pallets
    • Clean, untreated lumber


    • Painted, stained, treated or glued wood.
    • Plywood or particle board
    • Large nails or spikes
    • Rocks or dirt

    If your department has large amounts of scrap wood to be picked up, submit a Physical Plant Service Request.

  • Scrap wood and pallets must be separated out from regular trash.

    Clean wood is hauled to the McNeil Generating Station in Burlington where it is chipped and burned to make electricity.

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Last modified August 09 2017 11:47 AM