To help you sort, start here

  • If my waste was intended to be edible, if it is disposable wares from Bon Appetit, or if it was once alive, compost it.
  • Paper, cardboard, or an item from the recycling list below can go in the blue recycling bins.
  • If you have waste that doesn’t fall in one of the first two categories, see if it’s an item requiring special disposal.
  • Hazardous waste should be handled appropriately and legally.  If you generated the waste at home, contact your county for a local disposal option – if Macalester generated the waste, Facilities Services should be involved.


  • Unsoiled paper and cardboard 
  • Aluminum, steel, & tin cans; metal food tins (rinse clean) 
  • Plastic #1,2,4,5,7 — look for number inside the recycle symbol 
  • Glass, including broken glass
  • Aluminum foil (rinse clean) 


  • All food, tea bags (staple removed), and coffee grounds 
  • Used paper products: Napkins, tissues, cotton balls, and cotton Q-tips
  • Packaging or wares from all Bon Apetit catering events and retail locations on campus
  • Soiled/greasy paper and cardboard (including pizza boxes, wax paper, other paper takeout boxes…) 


  • Chip bags; all plastic wrappers 
  • Styrofoam (other than clean #6 styrofoam) 
  • All plastic packaging without the recycling symbol

Special Disposal

Recycling Oddities

Waste Waste Type Drop off location
Batteries, Computer e-waste ITS Help Desk, Neill Hall 314
Batteries, Household specialized Kagin Commons, First Floor, Specialty Waste Bin
Books specialized Library, First Floor, book bin
Cartridges, Ink jet e-waste ITS Help Desk, Neill Hall 314
Cartridges, Toner e-waste ITS Help Desk, Neill Hall 314
Electronic waste e-waste ITS Help Desk, Neill Hall 314
Fluorescent Bulbs, CFL specialized Kagin Commons, First Floor, Specialty Waste Bin
Fluorescent Bulbs, tubular hazardous Facilities Services
Fluorescent Bulbs, broken hazardous Contact Facilities Services for cleanup
Paper, one-sided speciality Onesies collection bins throughout campus
Packing Peanuts re-use Campus Center Mail Room, Lower Level
Plastic film or bags specialized Plastic film containers throughout campus
Polystyrene specialized ITS Help Desk, Neill Hall 314

There are a variety of non-reusable items that cannot be placed in the Macalester Recycling bins, but which can be responsibly recycled at various locations on and around campus.


Drop off unwanted books at the Library – books that can’t be used on campus will be sent to Better World Books.


The ITS Help Desk, Neill Hall 307, is the primary collection point for electronic waste on campus. Small items such as radios, cell phones, and computer components, can be brought to the e-waste recycling bin located in the Mail Room on the lower level of Campus Center


Any fluorescent bulb – including compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – are toxic and state law requires special disposal. A collection bin for CFLS is located and in Kagin Commons at the Sustainability Office. 

A broken fluorescent bulb of any kind is hazardous and dangerous; please contacts Facilities Services immediately for safe clean up.


There are bins around campus where students can leave extra paper or paper printed on only one side. This paper is later collected for the onesies recycled notebooks produced at the library. Each first year gets a notebook at the beginning of their journey at Macalester. 


Clean and dry plastic bags can be brought to the ITS Help Desk.


Macalester has a relationship with a local vendor that will recycle our polystyrene waste for free.  Drop off your polystyrene with the Help Desk on the third floor of Neill Hall.

Items must be solid pieces and free of tape, glue, cardboard, paper, labels, or any other contaminants.  Items not meeting these requirements will not be accepted.

The more flexible polypropylene is not recyclable and must be thrown in as trash.

Mac Free Swap

The Macalester Free Swap is located on the first floor of Kagin Commons near the restrooms.  Only items that can be reused by another individual should be left at the Free Swap. If you don’t want the thing you’re leaving because it’s in poor condition, the next person  doesn’t either.

Do not use the Free Swap as a dump.  Do not leave items outside Kagin if the building is not open.

Broken or worn items and undergarments should not be left at the free swap.

Accepted Free Swap Items

  • Clothing, shoes, jewelry 
  • Blankets, linens, and towels 
  • Kitchen utensils and dishware 
  • Working electronics and small appliances 
  • Office or school supplies including folders, notebooks, pencils, and pens
  • Partial dispensable cosmetic products

Have Something Else?

If you are looking to recycle, reuse, or properly dispose of an item and can’t find a way to do it on this page, try the Ramsey County A-Z Disposal