Waste Minimization


What can be recycled at CWU? The following goes into the blue recycling bins:

  • Clean paper (newspaper, cereal boxes, printer paper, mail, notebook paper)
  • Clean glass (bottles and jars)
  • Clean metal (Tin and aluminum cans)
  • Clean plastic Bottles (without caps)
  • Heavy corrugated cardboard (place in designated cardboard bins)


The following items are trash and cannot be placed in recycling bins:
  • Styrofoam
  • Plates and utensils
  • Food waste
  • Shredded paper
  • Anything with a greasy food residue (NO PIZZA BOXES)

Where do recyclables go after you place them in a CWU recycling bin?

Our recyclables are collected by Waste Management and taken to a mini MRF (Material Recovery Facility) in Ellensburg, where it is combined with commercial and residential recycling from the City of Ellensburg. It is then loaded on long-haul trailers and transferred to the Spokane Materials and Recycling Technology Center (SMaRT) (link is external)for processing. At the SMaRT facility, the recyclable materials are sorted, bundled, and sold to recyclers across the region.

How to Recycle Special Items

Toner Cartridges

  • If your office leases a Canon machine, use this link (link is external)to request print labels to return Canon Branded toner cartridges/bottles and waste toner containers.
  • If your office leases a Xerox machine, use this link (link is external)to return used Xerox supplies and toner cartridges (PDF).

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: waste reduction tips

Did you know waste in Ellensburg gets trucked 80 miles to the East Wenatchee Landfill? Here’s how to reduce the waste you generate:


  • When you pick up food, make sure to get only what you’ll eat. If you have leftovers, bring a container with you so you can eat the food later.
  • Avoid single-use food and drink containers and utensils. Carry your own reusable cutlery and straws.
  • Avoid over-packaged products.
  • Use fewer paper-based items. Consider using a digital calendar, take notes digitally, and get digital receipts.


  • Buy secondhand furniture and clothes.
  • Purchase products made from recycled materials.
  • Use washcloths instead of disposable napkins/towels.
  • Use apps such as OfferUp, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace to find needed items.
  • Instead of throwing out clothes/household items, take items in good condition to a donation center or Goodwill.

Recycling best practices

  • Make sure to clean out any items before recycling them
  • Keep a small bin in your room so you have separation for your recyclables and garbage
  • No plastic bags allowed in recycling bins. These can be recycled by returning them to a grocery store.
  • If you have old/used batteries, drop them off with the information desk in the SURC
*Recommendations compiled by Devina Largent, CWU undergraduate student in ENST499 Campus Sustainability

Waste reduction efforts by CWU Housing

  • Committed to increasing recycling in the residence halls and campus apartments
  • Proving mixed-use recycling bins in campus residence halls and apartments.
  • Upcycling old beds to make recycling containers on campus.
  • Purchasing residence hall bedroom furniture made in Ellensburg by Wood Products Northwest.

Off-Campus Recycling

If you live in off-campus housing, your apartment complex may or may not offer recycling to its residents. When you're searching for housing in Ellensburg, call the property manager and ask if recycling is provided for the community.

If recycling is not available at your apartment complex, collect your recyclables and take them to the Ellensburg Transfer Station. The following recyclable items are accepted at each of the Kittitas County Transfer Stations in Ellensburg:

  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Magazines
  • Tin Cans
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Plastic Pop Bottles
  • Plastic Milk Jugs
  • Household (Dry Cell) Batteries

To keep in mind whenever you recycle:

  • Make sure items are clean and dry
  • Don’t recycle items in plastic bags
  • Make sure you are recycling items in the right bins
  • Recycle Flyer (PDF)

Do you currently live in an apartment complex that doesn’t have recycling? Here’s how to advocate for recycling at your apartment complex:

  1. Contact your property manager to request that your apartment complex begins recycling.
  2. Determine the number and size of recycling dumpsters needed for your apartment complex. The chart below provides an estimate of costs (as of 01/2021).
  3. You can get an updated price quote from Waste Management at 800-592-9995
  4. Present recycling cost information to property manager.
  5. Have your property manager call Waste Management and add recycling to their services.

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