Frequently Asked Questions

Waste and Recycling

Why does UMB use dual-stream instead of single-stream recycling? 

Separating out paper and cardboard from mixed plastics, metal, and glass ensures that the paper and cardboard stream is as clean as possible and doesn't get contaminated with any liquid or residue that may be lurking in the mixed plastics, metal, and glass stream. Using a dual-stream system allows UMB to maximize our recycling potential.

What does UMB recycle in its dual-stream recycling bins? 

In the Paper/Cardboard Bins

  • Office paper
  • Computer printouts
  • Books (including paperbacks, textbooks, and hardbacks)
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines and catalogs
  • Envelopes
  • Hot beverage sleeves
  • Brown paper bags
  • Flattened cardboard and paperboard boxes
    • Please put these items BESIDE/BEHIND the bins due to their large size
    • If you need a box cutter to break down your boxes more easily, please contact

In the Mixed Plastics, Metal, and Glass Bins

  • Rigid plastics (including jugs, bottles, and tubs)
  • Aluminum cans
  • Clean aluminum foil
  • Tin cans
  • Steel containers
  • Glass bottles (unbroken)
  • Milk and juice cartons

Commonly Confused Items That Belong in the Trash

  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic wrap, plastic grocery bags, and Ziploc bags
  • Chip bags and candy wrappers
  • Condiment packs
  • Pizza boxes with grease-soaked cardboard
  • Anything with food or beverage in it — these items must be emptied and cleaned
  • Plastic straws and utensils
  • Disposable hot coffee cups
  • Tissues, paper towels, and napkins
  • Aerosol cans
  • Packing peanuts and bubble wrap
  • Batteries — these can be recycled through specialty recycling/chemical waste pickup
  • Receipts

Do I need to rinse out bottles, jars, and other containers before recycling them? 

While containers don’t need to be spotless, they must be free from large amounts of residue. It’s a good idea to give containers a quick rinse if possible before recycling.

Why are there centralized waste stations instead of desk-side bins? 

Research has shown that centralized waste stations help to decrease waste stream contamination (i.e., placing a particular material into the wrong bin, such as a paper towel in the recycling stream) by encouraging people to use clearly labeled, centralized bins in lieu of individual desk-side bins. This system encourages practices that can lead to healthier workplaces and generate waste materials that can be recycled and reprocessed rather than landfilled or incinerated. See this Media Lab study that reduced contamination by using centralized waste stations.

To increase the amount of time EVS staff can dedicate to cleaning and sanitizing common spaces, and also to eliminate potential waste sorting errors, staff are asked to manage their own desk-side waste. Also, you can think of walking to throw away your trash or recycling as a chance to exercise and move around! Finally, not purchasing large numbers of plastic trash liners means less non-recyclable plastic film waste sent to the incinerator.

To learn more, visit Environmental Services’ self-service waste webpage.

How are the bins set up under a centralized, self-service waste removal model? 

Common Spaces are supported by either a triple bin station comprised of Slim Jims or ErgoCans. The Slim Jim stations have corresponding signage above the bins, while the ErgoCans have signage on the bins themselves.

To reduce confusion on campus, bins are appropriately color-coded, lined, and in the same order from left to right. EVS staff are trained on proper collection and replenishment of liners.

  • Blue bin for plastics, metal, and glass recycling
    • with blue liner
  • Blue bin for paper and clean cardboard recycling
    • no liner
  • Gray bin for all other trash/incineration
    • with clear liner

Why did UMB implement the self-service waste program? 

A self-service waste model aligns with UMB’s core values:

Respect and Integrity

We value each other and hold ourselves accountable for acting ethically and transparently using compassion and empathy.

  • Respecting all of our UMB staff members and their time.
  • Holding ourselves accountable for the waste we generate on campus — the more awareness around the trash individuals generate, the more likely we will look for opportunities to reduce that waste through thoughtful procurement practices and habit changes.

Well-Being and Sustainability

We care about the welfare of our people, planet, communities, and University.

  • Protecting the health of our custodial staff and office staff by reducing the number of touch points EVS staff encounter.
  • Encouraging healthy habits by having occupants take a quick break to stand and walk to a central location from their office to dispose of waste.
  • Reducing pest issues — fewer locations create fewer hotspots for rodents, fruit flies, ants, and other pests.
  • Reducing our waste — fewer liners for individual trash bins mean less non-recyclable plastic film waste sent to the incinerator.

Equity and Justice

We embrace and are committed to diversity, and we value inclusive and just communities. We oppose racism and oppression in all their forms.

  • Understanding we have a role in how our waste gets disposed of — this is everyone's job.
  • Reducing the amount of trash we send to the incinerator, which is an environmental justice concern — incineration is attributed to air pollution and other public health concerns that disproportionately affect lower-income Baltimore communities.

Innovation and Discovery

We imagine and explore new and improved ways to accomplish our mission of education, research, clinical care, and service.

  • Committing above and beyond our waste reduction efforts on campus by looking at waste in a holistic way.
  • Creating efficiencies in our waste disposal methods to ensure that our buildings are run smoothly and UMB custodial staff can use their time effectively.

Where can I get a recycling bin? 

If you have an additional need for a waste station due to a renovation, change in a space’s use, or other factor, put in a work order through the UMB Facilities Work Request Portal to inquire about bins for your space. 

What if I am hosting an event or cleaning out my space and need additional bins? 

If you are hosting an event and expect higher volumes of waste than normal that will require additional bins, you can place a work order through Environmental Services under “Special Events.”

If you are cleaning out your space and expect higher volumes of waste than normal that will require additional bins, you can place a work order through Environmental Services under “Bulk Disposal and Recycling.”

Where does our waste go once it leaves the triple bins? 

All major campus waste streams are collected from bins by UMB’s EVS custodial staff and taken to each building’s loading dock/collection area.

Paper/Cardboard: Paper and cardboard are picked up by the EVS Moving and Recycling team and taken to the new Recycling Center on Saratoga Street. These materials are then picked up by Georgetown Paper Stock for processing.

Mixed Plastics, Metal, and Glass Recycling: Our mixed recycling is picked up by the EVS Moving and Recycling team and consolidated into an open-top container. This container is then emptied by our hauler Goode Companies,  Inc., and sent to one of two locations for processing: World Recycling in Baltimore or Olive Street Processing in Capitol Heights, Md.

Trash: Trash from UMB is collected by Goode Companies, Inc., and incinerated at Wheelabrator Baltimore.

I work in a research lab or clinical area at UMB. How do I dispose of waste? 

Visit the Green Labs webpage on our website for more information about waste disposal in lab areas.

Where can I compost food waste at UMB? 

Visit our Community Composting Dropoff Project page to learn about how to compost on our campus. Our Composting page also has additional information about how to compost outside of UMB.

What about all of my other miscellaneous items that I don’t want to throw away? 

Learn about specialty recycling collections on UMB’s campus by visiting this link.

Visit our Specialty Recycling in the Greater Baltimore Area map for information on recycling light bulbs, batteries, electronics, plastic bags/film, compost, and more throughout the Greater Baltimore area.

For any other miscellaneous items, visit Earth 911.

I live off campus. How do I recycle? 

Check out the Baltimore City Department of Public Works website to learn about what is accepted in the city’s curbside recycling program. If you live outside of Baltimore City, check with your local municipality.

Why can’t I recycle a particular material on campus, but can at home? 

Recycling is a market-driven operation. The items accepted by municipalities and institutions are dependent on each locality and materials recovery facility (MRF). While any item can technically be recycled, MRFs may not be able to find a local buyer for certain materials.

UMB utilizes a different recycling hauler than Baltimore City, so the types of materials accepted differ between the two locations.

Can I request a training in waste and recycling from the Office of Sustainability? 

The Office of Sustainability is happy to provide a presentation or training session about waste management and recycling on campus to your department, student organization, or any other group. Please reach out to to set up a session.


What are greenhouse gases? 

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) exist in the earth’s atmosphere. They absorb and trap heat from the sun which results in global warming and climate change. Greenhouse gases include: 

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • Industrial gases:
    • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
    • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
    • Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)
    • Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) 

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

What is CO2e? 

The shorthand for “carbon dioxide equivalent” (also written as CO2 equivalent). We often hear about carbon offsets and carbon neutrality but that is actually a generalized term to include all of the greenhouse gases. CO2e is a conversion of all other greenhouse gases’ impacts beyond carbon dioxide.


Why does my office feel warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter? 

UMB uses building automation to control temperature settings. As seasons change, the building automation system automatically adjusts to a range that can save energy but still maintain a comfortable level.

What is building automation? 

Building automation allows UMB to control building HVAC equipment and lighting remotely to ensure optimal operations. As issues arise, we can troubleshoot the problem quickly to resolve the customer’s issue. Doing this remotely via computer can save time instead of dispatching a technician to the building.

Building automation also can save damage to equipment and prevent loss of research. Critical alarms are monitored to ensure rapid response to issues.

Feedback Form

Do you have feedback about sustainability at UMB? We would love to hear from you; contact us using our feedback form.