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 recycling 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.

What should I do before recycling? expanding section

Follow the 5 R’s (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle). Recycling is the last R that we should practice. Before getting to that point, we should try to refuse anything we don’t need. Then reduce the waste that we consume. Reuse waste where you can such as with plastic bags. Repurpose waste such as through making eco-bricks or art projects. Lastly, recycle anything you can’t refuse, reduce, reuse, or repurpose.

Which plastic numbers can be recycled? expanding section

In La Crosse, you can recycle plastics 1, 2, and 5. Check the bottom of any plastic container to find a small number between 1-7 located inside the three-arrow triangle recycling symbol. This number indicates the type of plastic material used. Recycling numbers are a uniform way of classifying the different types of plastic and it aids recyclers in the sorting process. Different municipalities accept different plastic types so make sure to check what is collected. 

Should I put my recycling into a plastic bag? expanding section

No! Plastic bags are not sorted for recycling by the facility serving the La Crosse area.  Plastic bags are separated out of the recycling stream and sent to the local Refuse Derived Fuel Facility.  Although plastic bags in recycling containers serve the purpose of maintaining cleanliness, a greener alternative is to temporarily use a plastic bag in your recycling container and later reuse that bag for your garbage or rinse out any recyclables before putting them in the bin.

Where can I recycle plastic bags? expanding section

There are plastic bag collection areas in the UWL Recreational Eagle Center, Student Union, Reuter Hall, and Whitney Center. Most plastic bags can also be dropped off at your local grocery store. Search for a nearby plastic bag drop-off location here. We recommend using reusable bags for all your shopping needs.

Can I recycle pizza boxes? expanding section

Yes! It is a common myth that pizza boxes can’t be recycled due to grease reducing the quality of cardboard fibers. Since contamination is usually minimal, UWL’s recycling service provider collects pizza boxes. 

Can I recycle broken glass? expanding section

Glass to be recycled is limited to food jars and bottles of any color. If the container is broken, only recycle the pieces larger than the size of a credit card. Glass windows, mirrors, dishware, and ceramics are not recycled in La Crosse.

Can I recycle Styrofoam? expanding section

The local recycling/sorting facility does not collect Styrofoam for recycling. If you or others do not have another use for Styrofoam, it can be placed in the trash. If you are purchasing new packing material, consider purchasing an alternate, such as corn-based packaging, starch-based loose-fill, molded fiber, molded pulp, or biodegradable foam.



Can I recycle items if they have food in them? expanding section

Food residue should be removed from containers prior to recycling. A simple rinse is usually all that is needed. 

What are the most important factors in proper recycling? expanding section

The success of every recycling program depends on each person 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.

Where can UWL students recycle electronics? expanding section

UWL students can recycle electronics on campus for free at the Information Desk in the Student Union.  Students and all others can bring e-waste to the La Crosse County Household Hazardous Waste collection site at 3202 Berlin Dr., La Crosse, WI or Harter’s Quick Clean at 2850 Larson St. La Crosse, WI.

What electronic items can UWL students bring to the Information Desk in the Student Union? expanding section

Cords, cameras, cell phones, chargers, laptops, video game consoles and controllers, printers, DVD/Blu-Ray players, computer monitors, iPods, copiers, scanners, extension cords, holiday lights, and headphones. Students may be able to drop-off larger items for recycling during advertised on-campus special events. Students and employees can also drop off electronics at the La Crosse County Household Hazardous Waste collection site or at Harter’s Quick Clean.

What items are UWL students not allowed to drop-off at the Information Desk in the Student Union? expanding section

Batteries, vape pens, smoke detectors, pharmaceuticals, ink and toner cartridges, and light bulbs.  Students can drop-off rechargeable or lithium batteries and light bulbs at the La Crosse County Household Hazardous Waste collection site or at Harter’s Quick Clean.  

Which single use items provided by UWL Dining Services can be recycled? expanding section

Maintaining a current list of single use items provided by UWL Dining Services that can be recycled is not practical. The best practice is to request or use reusable containers. For instance, Whitney Center and the Student Union have an OZZI System. The OZZI System gives individuals the opportunity to utilize reusable containers for to-go meals purchased in the Student Union and Whitney Dining Center. Individuals can purchase a token at the Student Union Information Center ($4.00 for students, $5.00 for faculty/staff). This token can be used at any dining location on campus when requesting a to-go meal. When you are finished using a container, scan its bar code and deposit the container into the OZZI vending machine. You will then receive a new token from the machine to be used the next time you want a to-go meal.

Where can I go to recycle my personal batteries? expanding section

You can bring your batteries to Walmart, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, and the La Crosse County Household Hazardous Waste Facility (rechargeable and lithium batteries only). Alkaline batteries are not collected for recycling.

Can I recycle used razors, makeup products/containers, and similar personal care consumer goods? expanding section

Razors are NOT recyclable. Most glass or plastic makeup containers and similar personal care items can be recycled. If the plastic container has the triangle recycling symbol with the numbers 1, 2, or 5, then the container can be recycled. Any residue should be rinsed from containers prior to recycling.

Can I recycle spiral notebooks? expanding section

Yes, and there is no need to remove the plastic or metal spiral.

Can UWL faculty, staff or students living off campus dispose of their trash and recycling at UWL? expanding section

No. Wisconsin Administrative Code states that dumpsters at UWL are only for waste or recycling generated at UWL during normal business or use of facilities. 

How do I recycle UWL owned electronic waste, appliances, or commercial equipment? expanding section

If you have UWL 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.


How do I recycle a rechargeable or lithium battery from a UWL owned laptop, cell phone, or another appliance? expanding section

Rechargeable and lithium batteries installed in UWL owned equipment being managed as Surplus Property or Electronic Waste can stay installed in the equipment. Other rechargeable and lithium batteries are collected for recycling through UWL's Hazardous Materials Program. Contact UWL Environmental Health and Safety Office at 608.785.6800 to arrange collection. Alkaline batteries can be disposed in the trash.