The Catholic University of America

 Frequently asked questions


The Catholic Univeristy of America seeks to educate everyone in the campus community about its recycling program. The goal of this initiative is to make a significant impact in reducing landfill waste generated by the University by increasing awareness about recycling and participation in this effort among students, staff, and faculty. 


What kind of recycling does CUA do?

CUA has single stream recycling throughout the whole campus. How you recycle in residence halls is how you recycle in classrooms, offices, the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center and everywhere else on campus. 

All recyclable materials (not compost) are placed in the same bins, collected, and then transported to Waste Management’s material recovery facility in Elkridge, Md., where it is separated and sorted.

Click on the video at right to see how the University's single-stream recycling is processed.



  Singhle Stream poster

> Click for larger image

What can be recycled?

  • Metal cans – steel, tin, and aluminum soda, vegetable, fruit, and tuna cans
  • Plastics, bottles, and containers #1-5 and 7
  • Paper – non-confidential office paper, brown paper bags, newspaper, magazines, and junk mail
  • Paper cardboard dairy and juice containers
  • Flattened cardboard and paperboard
  • Glass bottles and jars



What shouldn’t be recycled? Why?

It is actually a pretty short list. There are some key items that can’t be recycled, these include:

Plastic bags – Plastic bags get caught in in the machinery used at Waste Management’s material recovery facility and are made from such low quality plastic that there are no end users for them in a single stream collection.  You can take them back to the store. Or better yet, bring your own reusable bags.

Hot/coffee cups – These cups are coated or treated with a chemical called wet-dry that prevents them from breaking down when wet – precisely what recyclers need it to do! For this reason, hot cups are not accepted for recycling. This includes any hot coffee cup that you get from Starbucks or your local coffee house.

Polystyrene –  Commonly known as “Styrofoam,” polystyrene  is not part of single stream. Polystyrene has to be very clean to be recycled and the demand for it is very small because of how hard it is to recycle. Avoid using it. Take advantage of dining services to-go program and bring your own mug.

K-cups, oatmeal and chip canisters (Hybrid packaging i.e. metal/paper/plastic mix) – The general rule of thumb is this: The more materials used to make a single package, the harder it is to both sort it and to find a recycling market for it. These bags are made from various different materials, making it hard to recycle in the single stream process.

Greasy pizza boxes – The grease from the pizza is the problem. Paper mills use water to mush down your cardboard back into pulp, and oil and water don’t mix. For this reason, greasy cardboard is a contaminant to our paper buyers and is not accepted for recycling. If the top of the box is entirely clean, please do rip it off and place it in your recycling bin, throwing the greasy part in the trash.

Chip bags and candy wrappers – The more material in one item the harder it is to recycle. These items are made from many different kinds of material and there is very small market for them. If you are a hard-core recycler you can check out Teracycle to see how to start your own collection for these materials.