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Recycling Setup for Nonprofits & Agencies

Follow these general rules for an effective recycling program: 

  • Place labeled recycling bins wherever recyclables are commonly discarded, alongside receptacles for regular garbage, to reduce contamination.
  • Collect recyclables in clear bags.
  • Keep bags of recyclables separated from garbage as they are collected throughout the building, stored, and placed out for pick-up.
  • Never put recyclables and garbage together in the same bag.
  • Don’t put paper and cardboard in the same bag with metal, glass, rigid plastic, and cartons.
  • Flatten, and bundle or bag corrugated cardboard boxes.

Establish centralized locations (for recycling, food waste, and regular garbage collection) along with desk-side recycling.

Make sure to line containers for food waste and garbage with black or brown bags (never use blue or red).

Recycling Mixed Paper & Cardboard

Maintain labeled recycling containers wherever mixed paper and cardboard recyclables are commonly discarded, including areas such as offices, mailrooms, and around copiers; in shipping and receiving locations; and in common areas such as entranceways, meeting rooms, and auditoriums.

Clearly label each recycling bin with “PAPER ONLY” or use DSNY green recycling decals.

Line bins with clear bags (or no bag).

Post signs above each recycling container indicating what to recycle. 

Pair recycling bins with clearly labeled garbage containers to reduce contamination.

Since most office waste is paper, equip each desk with a labeled receptacle for paper recycling. There are two typical ways to do this:

  • Only one receptacle at each desk, designated for paper. Workers bring their garbage, and any recyclable metal, glass, plastic, and cartons, to centrally located recycling and garbage bins.
  • Two receptacles at each desk: one designated for paper, and one for garbage. Workers bring recyclable metal, glass, plastic, and cartons to centrally located recycling bins.

Recycling Metal, Glass, Rigid Plastics & Cartons

Maintain labeled recycling containers to collect metal, glass, rigid plastic, and cartons (such as milk cartons and juice boxes), wherever these recyclables are commonly discarded—especially in food vending areas, cafeterias, pantries, and staff lunch areas, as well as in common areas such as entranceways, near stairways, meeting rooms, and auditoriums.

Clearly label each bin with “METAL, GLASS, PLASTIC & CARTONS” or use DSNY blue recycling decals.

Line bins with clear bags.

Post signs above each recycling container indicating what to recycle.

Pair recycling bins with clearly labeled garbage containers to reduce contamination.