Single stream recycling

In January 2015 UWL implemented a new recycling program known as single stream recycling.   Single stream recycling simplifies the recycling process by allowing previously separated recyclables to be placed into one collection container.  Items such as paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles can be placed in one recycling container.  The single stream recycling process should make it easier for YOU to make a positive contribution to the environment through recycling.  In the end, single stream recycling depends on YOU to reduce the amount of waste destined for the landfill and increase the amount of materials destined for recycling facilities. Thanks you for your positive and ongoing contributions.



Single stream recycling process summary

Converting to single stream recycling had little impact on the recylcing process.

If you live in a residence hall you are responsible for managing trash and recyclables generated in your room.  You will continue to bring trash to the green dumpsters outside your building and place recyclable materials in the white dumpsters.  Residents in Reuter and Eagle Halls can use a single container for collection of recyclables in their dedicated recycling rooms on each floor.  

In all campus buildings other than residence halls you can place your recyclable materials in hallway, individual office or other designated recycling containers.  Custodial staff will continue to collect these materials and deliver them to the exterior recycling dumpsters.   


Once recyclables are collected in the exterior white or blue recycling dumpsters the recyclables are delivered to a state-of-the-art sorting facility based in La Crosse and operated by Harter's Quick Clean-Up Service.  The sorting facility separates materials into a variety of categories, compacts, bundles, and then ships the materials to a variety of recycling facilities.

Trash continues to be collected in green dumpsters and these wastes are transported to the Xcel Energy refuse derived Fuel Facility with residual materials mostly going to the La Crosse County Landfill.

The same rubbish truck is used to collect trash and recyclables.  However, when completing the scheduled pickup, the service provider does not mix trash from green dumpsters with recyclable materials in white and blue dumpsters.

I live off campus; does the City of La Crosse also have a single stream recycling program? expanding section

Yes, the City of La Crosse does have a single stream recycling program. For more information regarding this topic please visit the following links:

Why can't I recycle pizza boxes? expanding section

Cardboard or paper that has been contaminated by food residue cannot be recycled. A small amount of contaminated cardboard or paper may cause an entire load of paper to be rejected by a recycling collection facility. We have to provide them with clean, ready-to-recycle products! However, as long as the cover of the pizza box is not soiled with grease it can be recycled.

I’ve heard that all of our campus trash goes to an incinerator to be burned. Is that true? expanding section

All non-recyclable trash that is deposited into the green waste dumpsters on campus is taken directly to the Xcel Energy waste to energy plant. The Xcel Energy plant turns acceptable waste into refuse derived fuel (RDF) which is burned to make electricity. You can find more information about the Xcel Energy waste to energy plant at:

Can UWL faculty, staff or students living off campus bring their trash and recycling for UWL to manage? expanding section

No. Wisconsin Administrative Code states that dumpsters at UWL are only for waste generated at UWL. We try to keep our waste and recycling program as fiscally and operationally efficient as possible. When people bring trash and recycling from home, UWL incurs costs for disposal or recycling. Every private individual in Wisconsin and Minnesota has access to recycling and waste disposal services through their town, city, village or a private contractor.

Does UWL make money from recycling? expanding section

The value of recyclable materials varies depending on the type of material. Values are market driven and change as markets and economic conditions change. Materials such as paper, cardboard and aluminum usually generate income when markets are strong, however when markets decline we sometimes must pay our vendors to take these materials for recycling. Glass is made from an abundant and easily attainable natural resource. It is easier and financially more cost effective for manufacturers to make new glass from raw materials than to recycle glass so it has no monetary value on the recycling market. Even in strong market conditions recycling vendors charge a fee for accepting glass for recycling. Certain types of plastic have more value than others, but generally speaking plastic has very little or no value and vendors either charge a fee or take plastics at no cost to either party. The University does not recycle to make a profit. We recycle in an attempt to keep waste generated by the University out of the landfill as a part of our commitment to environmental sustainability. The recent implementation of single stream recycling is another way UWL is attempting to further its commitment to the environment.

How do I dispose of a rechargeable battery from a University owned laptop, cell phone or other appliance? expanding section

Rechargeable batteries from the University owned appliances are collected and recycled through UWL's Hazardous Materials Program. Please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office at 608.785.6800 or to arrange collection.

What should I do with my old cell phone (I know I shouldn't just throw it away)? expanding section

UWL owned cell phones and other electronic wastes must be recycled through UWL's eWaste program managed by Information Technology Services.  For personally owned cell phones there are a variety of charities that not only safely dispose of old phones, but actually put them to very good use. You can located these charities through a internet search.  In addition, most wireless providers recycle used wireless telephones; just bring your telephone to the retail outlet and request that it be recycled.

How do I recycle E-waste (e.g. computer, monitor, printer, cell phone), appliances or commercial equipment at UWL? expanding section

E-Waste is loosely defined as discarded, surplus, obsolete or broken electrical or electronic devices.  E-Waste includes, but is not limited to: computers, computer accessories, TV's, cell phones, fax machines, VCR/DVD players and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Appliances may include dorm sized refrigerators or microwaves or major appliances, such as washers, dryers, stoves or water heaters. Commercial equipment may include but is not limited to: autoclaves, kilns, or specialty laboratory equipment.

If you have University owned electronic equipment, appliances or commercial equipment to discard it should be returned following the procedures outlined in the UWL's E-Waste program or UWL's Surplus Property program.

If you are a resident of a UWL residence hall you have several options to dispose of your personal electronic devices or appliances.  First, see if the manufacturer or store from which you purchased your equipment participates in take-back or trade-in programs. Several nationwide retail outlets accept this type of equipment for free or a nominal fee.  If you are a La Crosse County resident you can also recycle these personally owned items through the La Crosse County Household Hazardous Materials Program

You can also look in the "Yellow Pages", under “Recycling Centers”. The Yellow Pages will list several local recycling and waste management companies that provide this valued service. 

How do I recycle empty printer/copier cartridges? expanding section

UWL only accepts printer and copier cartridges from campus owned or leased equipment. Cartridges from UWL operations can be sent to Campus Stores through campus mail. A variety of options exist for recycling personally owned equipment. 

• If your vendor offers a mail-back program for empty cartridges, save the original carton and use the shipping label provided inside to return the cartridge to the vendor. Check your packaging or the manufacturer’s web site for information. 

• The store you purchase a new or refurbished printer cartridge may participate in a take-back program. Several local nationwide office/electronic supply retail outlets accept used cartridges for free, just call ahead to confirm their ability to accept the cartridges. 

• The La Crosse County Household Hazardous Materials Program accepts used cartridges for recycling.

If you could give a message to everyone on campus regarding recycling, what would it be? expanding section

The success of every recycling program depends on each of us sorting recyclables at the source. Everyone needs to place recyclables in recycling containers and trash in trash containers.

When making purchases consider purchasing things manufactured with recycled material. Recycling only works if we purchase items containing recycled content. The key here is thinking about the environmental consequences of a purchasing decision before buying.  

One of the benefits to single stream recycling is to increase the amount of materials recycled. single stream recycling should make it easier for everyone to recycle by simplifying the process on all levels.