Materials & Recycling

Materials & Recycling

Reducing the Amount of Campus Waste

Northeastern University is committed to responsible and sustainable materials management. Practices are focused on reducing, reusing, and recycling a high percentage of materials used in our residence halls, dining areas, classrooms, laboratories, offices, and in construction projects. The Materials & Recycling Department is responsible for collecting and managing the recyclable and waste materials generated at all of the university’s facilities. We are always searching for new ways to make improvements that decrease consumption, reuse where possible, and increase the amount of material recycled through innovation, and processes. In 2020, Northeastern’s Boston campus achieved a diversion rate of 41% of operational waste and 73% of construction waste.

Recycling Accomplishments


Recycling Programs

Our goals are to preserve the environment, reduce the cost of waste disposal, and keep the design of the program simple and convenient to maintain university wide commitment.  But our recycling program can’t succeed without the help of everyone in our community.  Please take the time to educate yourself on how and where to recycle.  Leading by example is the best way to teach friends and our community members how to recycle better.


Dual Stream Recycling Composting Specialty Items






Dual Stream Recycling


Northeastern uses a dual-stream recycling system, where recyclable materials are placed in separate bins to reduce contamination from non-recyclable materials.  Throughout campus there will be a bin for plastic, metal, and glass containers and a separate bin for paper.  Cardboard is collected separately at centralized locations and by office cleaning staff.  The benefits of this approach is to reduce the amount of non-acceptable materials or contamination in the bins, ensuring a higher quality that results in more valuable materials for reprocessing.

41% of campus materials were recycled in 2019

  • Materials must be clean with no food or liquid.
  • Never recycle plastic bags or plastic wraps
  • Check container labels to see if it should be recycled
  • Remember: When in doubt, Throw it out!





Food Composting


Composting is the natural process of decomposition of organic matter such as food scraps and yard waste to create nutrient rich material.  This process benefits the environment by recycling organic resources, diverging from landfills, and reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.  Northeastern recognizes the importance of composting for waste management, and has fully integrated composting and waste reduction in the three main dining halls on the Boston Campus and at the Curry Student Center.  All food scraps are composted and every effort is made to reduce waste. Please visit Northeastern Dining to learn about their waste reduction success, green dining certifications, and use of Menus for Change.

800 tons of food composted in 2019

What Can Be Composted? 

  • All Food Waste 
  • Coffee Grounds & Tea Bags
  • Wooden Stirrers
  • Napkins and Paper Towels
  • Paper Straws

The three main dining halls in the Curry Student Center, Stetson East, and Stetson West support composting. 





Specialty Items


In addition to commonly recyclable materials, there are numerous items that require special treatment for safe disposal and should never be discarded into recycling or trash containers.  Northeastern’s Materials and Recycling team diverts these specialty items from the waste stream. These items include: batteries, electronics, ink jet and toner cartridges, grease, light bulbs, and mattresses.  Please view the drop-down list below to understand the proper disposal protocols for these items.

18.17 tons of mattresses were recycled in 2019

What Are Specialty Recycling Items? 

  • Batteries
  • Electronics 
  • Ink Jet and Toner Cartridges
  • Light Bulbs
  • Mattresses



Disposal Instructions for Specialty Items

Sustainability Quick Links

Contact Us

We are continually working to improve and expand our recycling programs.  For all requests and pickups, please submit a work order request.  For additional questions regarding recycling or waste management, items not mentioned above, and comments or suggestions, please email customer services at [email protected]

Related Links

Office of Sustainability

Office of Sustainability

Facilities plays a significant role in the policies, guidelines, and systems that help Northeastern accelerate the greening of all its campuses.

Learn more about Office of Sustainability
Green Office Challenge

Green Office Challenge

Through small, simple changes, each member of our community can contribute to a more sustainable University.

Learn more about Green Office Challenge
Northeastern’s Commitment to Sustainability

Northeastern’s Commitment to Sustainability

Northeastern is a university in tune with the world—including the world’s greatest global challenges.

Learn more about Northeastern’s Commitment to Sustainability