The 3Rs of the “waste hierarchy” (reduce, reuse, recycle) are so ordered because the impact on waste reduction is highest when we reduce consumption first, reduce waste further through reuse, and reserve recycling as the final step in dealing with resource management and scarcity. UNE’s recycling program represents the roots from which grew all of the University’s sustainability initiatives.
Currently, the University disposes of approximately 561 tons of waste annually. Roughly 21% of this waste is recycled. While this is a good start, the University community is capable of increasing this recycling rate, and we look forward to partnering with campus groups to achieve this goal. The Environmental Council and Campus Services support the program, and the Sustainability Office works closely with UNE’s waste hauler and Ecomaine to recycle as much material as possible through the single-sort recycling program adopted in 2009.
Explore ways to get involved in UNE’s recycling program through work-study positions, citizenship hours, or volunteering or by joining the Environmental Council or Earth’s E.C.O.
Recycling Details (FY '22)
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Single Sort Recycling Systems at UNE
UNE is committed to reducing its negative impacts on the environment and managing its resources wisely. To encourage everyone to participate in this goal, a single-sort recycling program was fully implemented in 2009 on both campuses. Single-sort systems imply that most materials — paper, glass, metal, and plastic can all go in one bin. Recycling stations have been strategically located all over both campuses to ensure that recycling is an easy waste disposal option.
An important feature of the recycling program is the color-coded bins. The system includes a green bin for single-sort recycling, a blue bin for returnable bottles and cans (containers with a 5-cent deposit), and a gray bin for non-recyclable trash. Signs on the wall above the bins and on the lids of the containers provide information about what waste goes in each bin to ensure that everyone can be successful in helping UNE reach its environmental goals.
What Goes in the Blue Bin?
Returnables: Bottles and Cans Labeled "ME 5 cents"
Money from returnables is reinvested into UNE’s Recycling Program.
What Goes in the Green Bin?
Recycling: Paper, Plastic, Glass, and Metal
- Pizza Boxes
- Cardboard (break down large boxes)
- Junk Mail
- Window Envelopes
- File Folders
- Milk Cartons/Jugs
- Juice Boxes
- #1-7 Plastic Containers
- Metal Cans
- Glass Bottles/Jars (empty, unbroken)
- Empty Aerosol Cans
What Goes in the Gray Bin?
Waste: Non-recyclable Waste and Food Scraps
- Bubble warp
- Plastic wrap
- Snack bags
- Paper towels
Single-sort Recycling is a system the University of New England adopted that allows us to recycle more than ever. You can put paper, glass, metal, and plastics in one bin. View the complete listing of what can go into the green, single-sort recycling bins
The university is investing the revenue generated by the bottles and cans into the recycling program. Those 5 cents may not seem like a lot, but they add up to make sure we can keep our waste disposal as environmentally friendly as possible.
Single-sort recycling saves time. The majority of the waste generated on the campus is recyclable, which helps reduce UNE's waste and decreases our carbon footprint. For information on your personal carbon footprint, visit The Nature Conservancy's Carbon Footprint Calculator.
Light bulbs, hypodermic needles, sharp objects, bubble wrap, food, styrofoam packaging and peanuts, food bags, diapers, potato chip bags, and other non-recyclable waste cannot be put in single-sort recycling. View the full list of what can go in the green recycling bins
No. Only shredded paper should be bagged. The sorting equipment at Ecomaine will get clogged with bags of recyclables. Full plastic bags are considered trash and will be put into a trash dumpster. Shredded paper in clear plastic bags is recognized when the recyclable material is dumped on the floor of the recycling center and pulled out with hooks and brought directly to the paper recycling station.
Corrugated cardboard can be recycled in any dumpster marked "Cardboard Only." On the Portland Campus, there are cardboard dumpsters located behind Alexander Hall and behind Blewett Hall. On the Biddeford Campus there are cardboard dumpsters located near Champlain Hall, behind the Campus Center, past Sokokis Hall near the compactor, in the lower Morgane Hall parking lot, behind Facilities Management by the mailroom, behind Decary Hall, and behind Stella Maris Hall.
Because fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, all fluorescent bulbs on campus must be recycled. Never dispose of fluorescent bulbs in the trash or in a dumpster.
Normally, fluorescent bulbs on campus are changed by Facilities Management (FM). FM has fluorescent bulb accumulation points on each campus. When they change your bulb, they save the bulbs for recycling.
To have fluorescent bulbs picked up for recycling, or to report abandoned fluorescent bulbs, call Facilities Management at x2368.
If you are a faculty or staff member, you can place a work order request for housekeeping to bring you a deskside recycling bin. Even though the color is blue, these desk-side recycling bins should be emptied into the nearest green recycling toter.
Since we encourage everyone to participate in the program, and because we often search for something thrown in our recycling bins inadvertently, we prefer for you to empty your own office recycling bin and not ask our housekeeping staff to do it. Just bring it to the nearest large green toter on wheels; there's one on every floor of every building. Thank you for participating.
UNE's housekeeping staff consolidates the tall, thin bins from area recycling stations into the larger toters on wheels daily. Our recycling staff transports these toters to the compactor, where they are emptied. There is a toter recycling route established. High-traffic areas are emptied every workday. Residence halls are emptied twice weekly and some of the office and academic areas are emptied weekly. However, if you notice that a recycling bin is full (or will be full very soon) please let us know by calling ext. 2368.
Ask your RA to place a work order. Recycling staff will then empty the bin as soon as possible.
Placing a work order is the fastest way to have a bin emptied, and the best way for us to track the frequency needs of a particular area.
This happens when people contaminate recyclables with trash. Ecomaine will refuse to accept loads of contaminated recyclables. Please help us keep trash out of the recycling bins.
Please keep shredded documents in a plastic bag. The plastic bag ensures that the thin scraps of paper are processed correctly. If your shredded paper is not in a plastic bag, it cannot be recycled and may contaminate the bin of recyclable material. Place the plastic bag with shredded paper into a green single-sort recycling bin. Leaving it loose makes a mess on campus during transport and at the recycling facility.
Plastics numbered 1-7 are recyclable in the green single-sort bins. On the bottom of most plastic containers, there is a triangular symbol (that looks much like the recycling symbol). The number within that triangle is the number of plastic from which your container was made.
Unfortunately, if there is no number, there is no way to identify the type of plastic, and it cannot be recycled using our system.
Styrofoam (even though it is labeled as number 6 plastic) is not recyclable in the state of Maine.
Recyclable plastics are further identified if they are rigid (not flimsy, like plastic wrap) and larger than a Post-It note. Plastic lids, straws, and utensils are small enough to fall through the sorting machinery and will end up on the floor of the recycling facility, so just put it in the trash bin for disposal.
To find out if a bottle or can is returnable or not, search the container for "ME." It is typically located with a list of other states near the bar code on bottle labels and imprinted on the top of cans. Returnable, or redeemable, bottles and cans should go in the blue "Returnable Bottles and Cans Only" bin.
UNE uses the funds from the returnable bottles and cans to reinvest in the recycling program. Any bottles and cans in the blue recycling bins on campus are considered university property. Reinvesting the funds in this way makes the recycling program more financially sustainable, as well as environmentally sustainable.
While these items can be placed in the single-sort bins, they are too small for Ecomaine’s equipment to salvage; they'll literally fall through the cracks. They will end up as trash at the recycling facility and should be separated and placed in the trash whenever possible. It is not considered a contaminant, however.
Yes. Pizza boxes can be placed in the green single-sort bins. They can even have some oil and a little bit of cheese stuck to them. However, please remove all crusts, pizza pieces, and large clumps of toppings before recycling.
Unfortunately, wax is not recyclable. However, in modern products the “wax” coating is often actually a thin layer of plastic. To tell if your product is waxed, lightly scratch it with your fingernail. If the coating comes off under your nail, it is waxed and cannot be recycled. If it is plastic coated, it can go in the recycling because the recycling process will separate the layers of paper and plastic.
Waste Management comes to the Portland Campus on Wednesday mornings and empties the 65-gallon toters into a truck that is used for recycling only. The material is taken to Ecomaine in Portland. On the Biddeford Campus, our recycling staff brings the green toters to the compactors located beyond Sokokis Hall or in the Ripich Commons. When the compactors are full, Waste Management is notified and they bring the material to Ecomaine in Portland.
UNE started "SWOOP Days" in 2007 which was a collection drive during move-out week. The program evolved into a partnership with Goodwill for a donation collection. Large blue bins on wheels are placed in six residence halls (Champlain Hall lounge, East Hall commuter lounge, Avila Hall mailroom, Featherman Hall lobby, Assisi Hall lounge, and Sokokis Hall lounge) where all resident students can access them. Students can place gently used clothes, furniture, small appliances, decorations, and household accessories in the bins and Goodwill will sell them to benefit their many community projects. Unopened non-perishable food can also be collected in the blue bins, and Goodwill will pass these on to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
Approximate tons of waste UNE recycles annually
Percentage of UNE’s annual waste that gets recycled
gallons of food waste composted by UNE in 2022
Kitchen and Dining Hall Composting
Nor'easter Cafe has been composting kitchen food scraps since 2012. Kitchen preparation food scraps are composted, and diners are asked to sort their waste into three bins: trash, recycling, and compost. Anything that was ever alive can be thrown in the compost; this includes napkins, food scraps, and compostable service ware, such as the to-go containers and paper coffee cups.
In January 2017 the dining hall kitchen began composting food scraps. Garbage to Garden hauls the food waste to Benson Farm in Gorham, where it is composted. In the first semester of the program, more than 16,000 gallons of food waste were composted. Prior to 2017, the food scraps from the dining hall kitchen at the Biddeford Campus went to a local pig farmer.
Residential Hall Composting
A residential composting program was rolled out in the 2017 fall semester for students on the Biddeford Campus. There is no fee for residential students, and members receive a roll of compostable bags and a key to the locked collection bins. The recycling fund covers the cost of the waste disposal. This is a great option for students who want to practice sustainable living in their residence halls. There are two collection sites located on campus: one between the gateway tunnel and Sokokis Hall and another near the basketball court behind Avila Hall. To participate in the program, contact the Sustainability Office, at 602-2507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.