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Here, in handy format, is (nearly) everything you need to know about how to recycle and compost at Penn State.

Penn State Recycling Guidelines Poster- Downloadable PDF

Penn State Recycling Guidelines. Download the pdf:

Penn State Recycling Guidelines. Download the pdf:

Do you have specific questions about recycling and composting? You can post them to the möbius Yammer group with your Penn State ID.

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Office Composting

Along with the paper, plastic, and metal recycling stations already in your building, we're adding bins for organic waste.

Mobi logo - "Compost!"

"Is this happening everywhere?"

Waste management is a University priority, and office composting has rolled out in more than 200 buildings already. All residence halls will have composting starting in fall 2013, and it will be in every building at University Park in 2014. You can check out the roll-out schedule here. You'll receive plenty of notice from your Facility Coordinator before your building starts the program. You can also post specific questions to the möbius Yammer group with your Penn State ID.

"So what about my trash can?"

It will now be a personal bin to help you carry ALL of your waste to the recycling/composting stations on your hall.

Custodial staff won't empty office cans anymore.
They'll be pulling extra bags of food waste and recyclables from the hall stations.
You can request a cardboard tray or small compostables bin with a lid for your office if you prefer that to your waste can.

"Got it. Why?"

Penn State has set an ambitious goal of sending zero waste to the landfill, and people have been requesting composting options for years now. We're well on our way.

Before 1990, the University recycled less than a ton of its waste.
Today, the University recycles more than 100 types of waste and diverts almost 10,000 tons from the landfill.

Organic materials are the only part of the waste stream that we couldn't use...until now.

Now office and residence hall food waste (and anything else that will decompose) will be collected and turned into a nutrient-rich compost.
The University now uses its waste to improve soil quality across its campus landscapes. 

"I'm excited! What if I have more questions?"


How's It Work?

It’s simple. Just take compostable waste and other recyclables from your work area to the nearest recycling station and deposit in the appropriate container. It’s recommended that you take compostable waste to the station on a daily basis.

What type of waste is compostable?

Anything that is derived from a living organism (organic) will decompose. The most abundant form of organic waste is food. Soiled tissues, napkins, paper towels (all made from wood) can also be composted. Wondering what to do with that greasy pizza box from the office lunch? Compost it.

Why won’t my office trash can be emptied by the custodian any longer?

The goal of Mobius is to eliminate the only remaining component of desk side waste—organics. Along with the waste materials already being taken to the recycling station, it only makes sense to add this one small stream of waste to the process. There will be no need for desk side waste collection once the program is implemented.

What happens to the organic waste?

Organic (compostable) waste is collected from recycling stations by custodial staff and transported by Office of the Physical Plant’s waste management team to the Penn State Organic Materials Processing and Education Center (OMPEC) located next to the Mt. Nittany Expressway near Fox Hollow Rd. Here, the material is ground, blended with fodder (dried hay or feed, for cattle and other livestock) and stockpiled while nature does the rest. After a few weeks and a few turns, what was once a half-eaten ham sandwich is now a nutrient-rich soil conditioner used by Penn State crews to enhance the quality of the campus landscape.

What happens to the other recyclable materials?

Glass, plastic, metal, and paper collected from the recycling stations is taken to University Park’s Recycling Center (affectionately known as the Barpit), where the materials are sorted and transferred to the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority (CCRRA) In Benner Township. CCRRA packages the various commodities and sells them to manufacturers that use the material.

What do I do with waste materials like cardboard and foam packaging that don’t have a receptacle in the recycling station?

Thanks for asking. There are materials that can be recycled that don’t warrant a receptacle of their own. Dry corrugated cardboard boxes for example, should be broken down and placed next to the recycling station. A complete list of recyclable materials can be found here. If you have a large quantity to dispose of, contact to arrange for a special pick-up.

Where is the program going next?

The list of University buildings participating in the Office Composting program is growing monthly. The goal is to implement the program in all buildings at the University Park campus by the end of 2014.  

What if my work space has special needs and requirements?

If your work space requires special accommodations for waste and recycling disposal, please notify your building leader and


Penn State Recycling Guidelines - Downloadable PDF

Recycling and Waste Management home


 “Before 1990, the University recycled less than a ton of its waste. Today, the University recycles more than 100 types of waste and diverts almost 10,000 tons from the landfill," said Steve Maruszewski, assistant vice president for Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant.  

In 2013, University Park generated 14,204 tons of waste. We were able to recycle 60% of that waste, an impressive amount for an institution of our size. The total waste stream decreased 1,284 tons in 2013 from the previous year.

And we can do better! By rolling out office composting and recycling miscellanous plastics, Penn State has the means to achieve 85% diversion. In 2014, we produced 850 tons of compost and 2,305 tons of mulch at University Park.

Graph: annual percentage of waste recycled, 2005-2013



Recycling and Waste Management home


Visit the complete list of resources to learn more about reducing, reusing and recycling.

If you want to learn more about recycling email


Recycling Basics


Recycling Plastics


Happy Ever After


Zero Waste



Recycling and Waste Management home