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Material Transition Reuse Guide

This guide has been developed to provide staff, faculty, and students with a set of guidelines on how to prioritize the reuse, upcycling, and/or recycling of outdated branded materials, and to provide tips on sustainable purchasing.

  • While recycling is always preferable to landfill, the biggest impact is made by reusing what we have and eliminating waste from the start. Items such as mugs, mouse pads, and USB sticks that are currently in use and still within their useful lifespan continue to have value and don’t necessarily need to be disposed of. 
  • When usable items are thrown out, the raw materials and energy used to produce them are also lost. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment, and save money.

Please also note that we should not be distributing branded items to staff, students, etc., as a means of disposing of materials. We do not want to cause any further harm by putting the materials out into the community. 

If you have an item that is not listed below or have specific questions on how to reuse or recycle something, please contact the Sustainability Office at

Reuse solutions for Ryerson-branded items

Gently used binders are suitable for continued use until they are worn out.

Damaged binders can be recycled. 

Please note that binders should not be placed in the regular recycling stream, but collected separately. If you have a large quantity of binders (approximately 200 or more), a hauler will collect them for recycling, including old and broken binders. 

Contact the Facilities Help Desk at for details on binder recycling.

Business cards are not suitable for continued use. However, they can still be reused for personal use, such as scrap paper to jot notes or upcycled into gift tags, for example.

Place in the ‘mixed-paper’ stream for recycling.

We encourage you to digitize your business card to reduce waste in the future. This allows you to instantly get your card and never lose it, as well as to change your card face as often as you want with ease. No printing needed!

Continue to use internally within your department. Do not use externally or campus-wide. 

Recycle in the ‘mixed-paper’ stream.

For things that cannot be sent via email or cannot be digitized, we recommend opting for compostable envelopes or envelopes made from recycled material.

Gently used folders can be reused. Worn-out folders can be upcycled into packing materials for parcels.

Damaged and worn-out folders can be recycled in the ‘mixed paper’ stream. Remember to remove any non-paper components such as sticky labels or tape.

Continue to use internally until depletion by printing on the reverse side and using address labels.

Moving forward, physical letterhead can be used for special occasions, while on the regular basis you are encouraged to opt for digitized versions.

Continue to use internally until depletion.

Outdated agendas can be detached from wire coils and the paper can be recycled into the ‘mixed paper’ stream. The coils can be collected and recycled in the ‘bottles and cans’ stream if it is pure metal. If the cover is coated in plastic, it cannot be placed in the regular recycling stream and must be placed in the waste to landfill stream.

An alternative to physical agendas / notebooks is to use the Google calendars that are connected to your TMU email. For those that need more complex agendas that provide space for notes, comments and more here are some digital options: 

Continue to use internally until depletion. 

When no longer in working condition, recycle by following the steps below:

  1. Find a box (e.g. office supplies, shoebox).
  2. Download the  (PDF file) Staples Recycling Accepted Waste Poster (external link)  and attach it to the box. 
  3. Put the box in a common space in your area, so that others can add their used writing utensils as well  (e.g. photocopy room, front desk). 
  4. When the box is full, seal it with tape and bring it to TMU Shipping and Receiving at the South Bond Building (SBB), 105 Bond Street, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alternatively, you can request pick-up from the TMU mail delivery staff for your area. They will return it to Staples for recycling. 

This program is made possible by Staples Canada and TerraCycle. For every writing instrument recycled, $0.02 will be donated to Earth Day Canada.

Retractable banner mechanisms can continue to be used simply by replacing the banners.

The mechanisms are usually reusable, which cuts down on costs for future needs — only replacement banners would be needed. The banners are PVC, which is not a recyclable material, but there are companies that make items out of upcycled PVC banners. Alternatively, you can ask vendors for options in polyester fabric banners, which are 100% recyclable.

Continue to use internally until depletion. Recycle in the ‘mixed-paper’ stream.

Specialized substrates like acrylic and styrene can be recycled. Contact the Facilities Help Desk at for details.

Continue to use internally until they are worn out. Make sure you've erased your files before disposing of devices. 

We encourage you to make use of the 1TB of storage made available to TMU students, staff and faculty via our Google Workspace, to store and digitize documents as an alternative to purchasing new USB sticks.

Sustainable Purchasing Guide - Office Supplies 

The most sustainable items are both recyclable and recycled! Materials that have been made from previously recycled products, produced with non-toxic chemicals and are biodegradable have the best ability to be properly disposed of when the item has reached the end of its life.  

Consider whether or not a product is really necessary, or if a system can be set up to facilitate the reuse of existing items and avoid over-ordering products.

What to choose

Pens, pencils, highlighters

  • Refillable, recyclable products
  • Items made with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content (plastic, paper, metal)
  • Biodegradable and non-toxic products
  • High quality, durable items
  • Non-toxic, unscented, low-emission pens and markers

File folders, binders, document holders

  • Products with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content (plastic, paper, metal) 

Envelopes, notebooks, sticky notes

  • Envelopes with 30% or higher post-consumer recycled content
  • Refillable notebooks with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content paper
  • Sticky notes with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content

Office paper  

  • Reduce your paper use
  • Alternative fiber paper products (e.g. wheat straw paper)
  • Paper with 30-100% post-consumer content
  • Paper with FSC certification
  • Chlorine free paper
  • Bulk purchases or consolidated paper orders

What to avoid

  • Single-use, non-refillable products
  • Non-recyclable products
  • Vinyl binders (look for PVC-free)
  • Virgin paper products
  • Products without third party environmental certification
  • Virgin paper envelopes, or envelopes with less than 30% post-consumer recycled content