A-Z of waste

A one-stop-shop for what to do with unwanted items on campus. Remember – always reduce and reuse before you recycle, and leave landfill as the last option!

  • Aluminum foil

    Aluminium foil and trays

    Which bin?
    Clean your aluminium foil of food residue and roll up into a loose ball no smaller than the size of your fist. Place in the recycling bins.
    If food residues cannot be cleaned off properly, place in the landfill bins.
    Alternative optionReusable bees wax or soy wraps. Reusable platters/trays     
    More informationChoose to Reuse
  • Balloons

    Balloons, and balloon accessories like plastic clips and ribbons, are not biodegradable. In particular mylar balloons, which are essentially foil-coated plastic, stay in the environment forever.

    Which bin?Landfill
    Alternative optionThere are plenty of alternative party decorations such as reusable bunting, fruit bowls for centre pieces, fresh flowers or confetti made from leaves
  • Bamboo or wooden chopsticks and cutlery
    Reduce and reuseCarry a reusable cutlery set with you or use cutlery from the Choose to Reuse service at the Student Precinct
    Which bin?Landfill
    More informationChoose to Reuse
  • Batteries

    Batteries are the most common form of household hazardous waste.

    Which bin?On campus: To dispose of batteries, please locate  your nearest 'Battery Bucket'
    *To have your battery bucket swapped over, log a Service now (staff only) request.

    Off Campus: 'B-cycle' is a free Government-backed Scheme that recycles old and used household style batteries. Visit B-cycle Battery Recycling to find your nearest battery drop-off point.

    Batteries cannot go in the landfill as they are toxic.
    Alternative optionsUse rechargeable batteries where possible (charged via green power if available!)
    More informationBatteries
  • Binders
    Which bin?If they have a vinyl covering then they must go in landfill. If they are cardboard or paper based then they can go in the recycling bin
    Alternative optionsUse the binders you already have before buying more. Purchase cardboard binders whenever possible
  • Biodegradable items including bioplastics
    Which bin?Landfill
    Alternative optionUse reusable items. If on the Parkville campus, you can use these items for free from the Choose to Reuse Plate Program at the Student Precinct, Building 168,  the Arts and Cultural Building and the ERC.
    More informationChoose to Reuse
  • Books
    Which bin?Unwanted books can be sold or donated to a charity shop. Alternatively, recycle any old textbooks not worth giving away with Planet Ark Recycling at one of their drop-off points across Melbourne.
    Alternative optionAvoid buying new books by opting for e-books instead, borrowing from libraries or swapping, selling or donating your books
    More informationPlanet Ark Recycling
  • Cardboard

    Cardboard is one of the easiest and most environmentally effective materials to recycle since the fibre in cardboard has already been processed.

    Which bin?Small  cardboard:  Recycling

    Large cardboard:  Recycling via the large blue recycling bins across campus. Just make sure you've flattened it first

    Waxed cardboard:  Landfill

    Large amounts of cardboard:  Staff are able to hire a cardboard bin by submitting a request via Service Now
    Alternative optionCardboard boxes can be reused for shipping and moving house. Encourage suppliers to take back packaging wherever possible
    More informationReduce, reuse, recycle
  • Clothing
    Which bin?Landfill
    Alternative optionDonate clothings in good condition to local charities and op-shops or host a clothes swap
    More informationSustainability Victoria
  • Coffee cups

    Disposable coffee cups are not recyclable as they contain a plastic inner layer which is too difficult to separate from the paper cup during the recycling process.

    Which bin?Landfill
    Alternative optionUse a reusable mug or dine in
    More informationCoffee cups
  • Coffee pods

    Single-serve coffee pods are too small to be sorted correctly in the current recycling system.

    Which bin?Can only be recycled though a specialist recycling stream, not in the general recycling on campus.

    Use the pod collection point in the kitchen of Level 2 Alan Gilbert Building. Alternatively, organise your own collection point and recycle coffee pods through either TerraCycle or Nespresso.

    If you do not have access to a special collection bin, put the pods in landfill.

    Alternative optionUsing reusable coffee pods  or use a coffee machine that uses beans in bulk
    More informationCoffee cups
  • Cups (biodegradable and compostable)

    Most 'biodegradable' cups need to be processed through commercial composting facilities in order for them to break down. Some can be composted at home, but we can't process them through food organics buckets or compost bins on campus.

    Which bin?Landfill
    Alternative optionUse a reusable mug or dine in
    More informationCoffee cups
  • Confidential documents
    Which bin?Permanent confidential document disposal bins are located in most major buildings across campus. Place a Service Now (staff only) request if you wish to have a confidential document bin emptied.
    More informationPaper
  • E-waste

    The University has become increasingly aware of the issues caused by disposal of electronic Waste (E-waste) worldwide and consequently has decided to address the disposal of unwanted electronic equipment in a consistent, environmentally conscious manner.

    Which bin?Please refer here for the reuse and disposal of electronic assets.
    More informationE-waste
  • Food waste
    Type of food wasteWhich bin?
    Fruit and vegetable scrapsCompost, worm farm, the food waste processor
    Tea bags and coffee groundsCompost, worm farm, the food waste processor
    CitrusThe food waste processor
    Cooked foodCompost,  worm farm, the food waste processor
    Meat and dairyThe food waste processor
    Onion, garlic and spicy foodsCompost, the food waste processor
    Cooking oilCompost

    Visit food organics for more information.

  • Furniture
    Which bin?Place a Service Now (staff only) request to have unwanted furniture collected for reuse
    More informationFurniture and Equipment Reuse Service
  • Garden waste
    Type of garden wasteWhich bin?
    Flowers/plants/grassOrganics bin, compost, food waste processor. If unavailable,  put in the landfill
    Dirt/soilCompost. If unavailable,  put in the landfill
    Plant pots (plastic)Recycling
    Plant trimmings Organics bin, compost, food waste processor. If unavailable,  put in the landfill
  • Glass
    Type of glass wasteWhich bin?
    Bottles and jarsRecycling
    broken glass Wrap in paper and put in landfill
  • Hard waste

    Hard waste includes scrap metal and broken or damaged furniture and equipment that can no longer be used.

    Which bin?Book a Service Now (staff only) request to have hard waste removed
    More informationHard waste
  • Masks (disposable)
    Which bin?Landfill
    Alternative optionReusable masks
  • Old textbooks
    Which bin?Old textbooks can be sold or donated to a charity shop. Alternatively, recycle any old textbooks not worth giving away with Planet Ark Recycling at one of their drop-off points across Melbourne.
    Alternative optionAvoid buying new textbooks by opting for e-books instead or borrowing the library when possible.
    More informationPlanet Ark Recycling
  • Old University merchandise
    Which bin?Most end up in landfill however it depends on what the item is. For more specific information please contact sustainable-campus@unimelb.edu.au.
    Alternative optionAvoid accepting or buying merchandise that you don't need.  In the case of running events,  if you do need branded merchandise, make  sure to do the following where appropriate: 
    - Do not overbuy. Monitor the number of items purchased and given away;
    - Ensure items are not dated so that they can be reused in the following months/years;
    - Ensure any packaging is environmentally friendly;
    - Give things that can be reused multiple times.
    More informationContact sustainable-campus@unimelb.edu.au.
  • Paper towels
    Which bin?Landfill. Paper towels are made from virgin materials and cannot be recycled.
    Alternative optionUse tea towels instead
  • Plastic chopsticks and cutlery
    Which bin?Landfill. These pieces of plastic are too small and flat to be processed correctly in mixed recycling systems.
    Alternative optionReusable items.
  • Plastic containers and bottles
    Which bin?Recycling.
    Alternative optionReusable items.
  • Plastic or biodegradable bags
    Which bin?Landfill.
    Alternative optionReusable bags or newspaper as an alternative to a plastic bin liner.
  • Polystyrene
    Which bin?Polystyrene can be recycled at specialised collection points if it is clean, white, expanded polystyrene. UoM has polystyrene collection points and local transfer stations also accept polystyrene for recycling. If no collection points are available, place in landfill.
    More information

    Polystyrene Recycling Information + UoM collection points

  • Sanitary items
    Which bin?Sanitary waste bins provided in bathroom cubicles.  
    Alternative optionReusable and washable period underwear or a menstrual cup.
  • Serviettes/napkins
    Which bin?Landfill.   
    Alternative optionReusable items.
  • Soft plastics

    Soft plastics are any plastics that can be scrunched and not return to its original shape.

    Which bin?Recycle soft plastics with RecycleSmart by scheduling a pickup - this service operates across Melbourne.

    If you do not have a soft plastics collection near by, use the landfill bin. 
    Alternative optionRethink what you buy. Buy items with minimal packaging, in reusable packaging or from bulk food stores.
    More informationRecycleSmart
  • Sponges
    Which bin?Landfill.   
    Alternative optionUse a plant-based loofah sponges as an eco-friendly alternative.
  • Stationery
    Which bin?Recycle through Terracycle or at Officeworks. Alternatively, use the landfill bin (unless stated other by the packaging label). 
    Alternative optionUse the stationery you already have before buying more. When purchasing new stationery, buy items you can reuse, for example refillable pens. 
    More informationSix tips for reducing stationery waste at the office or at home
  • Tins and cans
    Which bin?Recycling. Do not crush aluminium cans before putting them in the mixed recycling bin - this may inhibit them being recycled.
    Alternative optionUse reusable containers/bottles where possible.
    More informationReduce, reuse, recycle
  • Tissues
    Which bin?Landfill.
    Alternative optionOnly take the amount that you actually need or use a handkerchief.