What does Mason recycle and where can I recycle these items?

Posted: January 19, 2018 at 4:19 pm, Last Updated: May 15, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Most areas on the Fairfax campus have recycling containers/recycling centers that accept multiple recycling streams including white paper, mixed paper, and comingled recycling (glass, aluminum, and plastic). For a complete explanation of our recycling streams, please consult the Acceptable Materials page under the Office of Sustainability’s Zero Waste web page.

Although Fairfax County now requires residential members to separate glass from recycling bins, this requirement does not currently extend to large commercial entities like Mason. For this reason, Mason maintains comingled recycling bins that accept glass along with aluminum and plastic. At this time, Fairfax County collects all glass as part of our campus’ comingled recycling stream (once contamination is hand-sorted by Facilities staff) and reuses it within concrete mix/asphalt applications. See our glass recycling update here!

Mason Facilities transformed a cardboard bailer (a device that flattens corrugated cardboard for recycling) area on the Facilities Lot into an Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) approved Universal Waste & Recycling Center (UWRC). This center accepts materials deemed “universal waste”, or hard-to-dispose-of items that are nonhazardous/contain low-levels of hazardous metals. Some accepted items include fluorescent tubes and CFL bulbs, automobile antifreeze, aerosol cans, paint and solvents, pesticides, automobile batteries, printer cartridges, and asphalt among others (electronic waste or university property should be brought elsewhere, see below). The materials delivered to the UWRC are collected by the hauler CleanEarth. The UWRC is open from 7:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday, dumping is not permitted during or outside operational hours.

In addition to these recycling streams, Mason also diverts the following materials from our landfills:

  • Small, electronic waste (also known as “e-waste”), including items like small batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones, and chargers. Items like these can be recycled in either the electronic recycling collection box at the Johnson Center (located near the Information Center) or the electronic recycling collection box located in the Facilities Warehouse. If e-waste items are university property, Fiscal Services should be contacted for disposal at University Surplus Property at the Facilities Warehouse. Here’s a quick link to Fiscal Services’ “Dispose of Equipment” page.
  • Large, e-waste, including items like personal appliances, toasters, lamps, computers, and printers (in residence halls). Large, e-waste/appliances should be set aside inside individual waste rooms for Housing and Residence Life to collect the item(s); the item(s) will be recycled or declared through a Facilities service request on a case-by-case basis. Please do not place appliances inside or around dumpsters and compactors on campus. For questions, please contact your Resident Assistant (RA).
  • University furniture/equipment, e-waste, durable office supplies, and other property can be disposed of at University Surplus Property at the Facilities Warehouse. Musical instruments can be donated through the Instruments in the Attic program.
  • Paints, solvents, and aerosol cans can be brought to the Universal Waste & Recycling Center (UWRC) between the hours of 7:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday (no dumping). Please contact Facilities Customer Service (703-993-2525) for more information.
  • Hazardous waste, including biohazardous waste, paints, metals, and any other chemicals, should be declared and disposed of through Mason’s Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) department. For student questions regarding medical waste, please contact Student Health Services (SHS). For needle disposal, SHS works with EHS to accept student containers, replaces them, and disposes of waste.
  • Automobile parts and related items like tires, Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL), fluorescent bulbs, and antifreeze can be delivered to the Universal Waste & Recycling Center (UWRC) between the hours of 7:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday (no dumping, see description above). Please contact Facilities Customer Service (703-993-2525) for more information.
  • Bicycles can be donated through the annual student move-out event, Patriot Pack Out, or by contacting Parking and Transportation Services via email: transpo@gmu.edu or phone(703) 993-2828. Depending upon the condition, all abandoned bicycles (a bicycle is considered “abandoned” when it remains unclaimed for 120 days) are sold at auction or broken down and partially recycled with the proceeds used to fund Mason’s various bicycle programs.
  • Individual food scraps or coffee grounds can be composted at the Innovation Food Forest compost piles or Potomac Heights Vegetable Garden. You can also rip up paper and cardboard to put on the piles as a source of carbon. Please read the guidelines for composting on campus before visiting the sites. Remember, DAIRY, MEAT, and POLYLACTIC ACID items (also known as “PLA”) CANNOT be composted at the Fairfax campus sites. 
  • Blaze Pizza Boxes (completely emptied of all food scraps/napkins) can be disposed of at the Johnson Center’s pizza box collection areas within the main dining area on the first floor.

For more information on proper disposal methods for recyclable materials and waste, please see the Acceptable Materials page under Zero Waste on our website.

Write to Benjamin Auger at bauger@gmu.edu