Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Why should I recycle?

Recycling is an important step in reducing the waste our university creates. This in turn greatly reduces the amount of carbon emissions resulting from landfills that the university contributes to. Plus, Kentucky is home to many recycling facilities, so by recycling, you’re helping support local Kentucky jobs!

Q: What is mixed recycling?

Mixed recycling refers to the general recycling stream from the blue bins on campus, which means you can put all recyclable materials in the same bin. For a comprehensive list of what’s recyclable, click here!

Q: Is all-in-one the same as mixed recyclables?

Yes, UK Recycling has changed the language they used to describe the blue, general recycling containers on campus from all-in-one to mixed recyclables in order to more accurately describe the acceptable contents.

Q: Do my recyclables just get thrown away?

NO! Everything placed in the mixed recycling containers at UK is transported to our partners at WestRock who carefully sorts everything placed in the bin. Then, they transport those sorted materials to different facilities to be manufactured into new products.

Q: What happens to the materials after they are placed in a container?

After they are picked up, the recycled materials are placed into a recycling compactor or dumpster on campus. A truck then services these compactors and the material is sent to WestRock in Louisville, Kentucky to be sorted. There, each material is sent to a corresponding facility to be processed and recycled into new products.

Q: What is contamination?

Contamination happens when non-recyclable items are put in with recyclables or when recyclables are soiled with food or oils. Too much contamination is one of the reasons manufacturers may reject recyclables. 

Q: Should I leave the lids on my bottle, jar, or container before recycling it?

Yes, we encourage everyone to leave lids ON when recycling in order to keep our stream clean and insect and odor-free.

Q: Do I have to rinse/wash my recyclables?

No, but they do have to be empty and reasonably clean.

Q: Why don’t UK and the city of Lexington recycle the same things?

UK and the city of Lexington send their recyclable materials to different facilities. So, whether you live in Lexington or another town nearby, make sure to check your local guides for what is recyclable in your local recycling stream.

Q: Can you recycle cardboard on campus?

Yes! Cardboard boxes can be recycled on campus and must be flattened.

Q: Why is it important to flatten cardboard boxes before placing them in the container?

Cardboard boxes take up a lot of space in the recycling container. Breaking them down or flattening them before placing them in the container saves space and creates additional capacity to recycle even more items.

Q: Which number plastics can I recycle on campus?

UK does not recycle plastics based on the number. Instead, we accept all plastic jugs, bottles, and cups as well as plastic to-go containers and household containers. For a comprehensive list of what’s recyclable, click here!

Q: Can I recycle Styrofoam?

UK does not recycle Styrofoam of any kind in the mixed recycling containers. However, Styrofoam coolers are able to be recycled through a separate program through UK Recycling. For more information, visit our Styrofoam recycling page HERE or contact UK Recycling at

Q: Why can't I recycle ____?

The recyclability of materials depends on 1) available downstream markets 2) ability to properly sort and separate material at the designated material recovery facility, or MRF for short, and 3) willingness of the local material recovery facility to accept the material. Unsure if an item can be recycled? Check out our “IDK Bin” here!





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