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Recycling and Waste

Image of the new four stream waste receptacles at Ryerson.

Toronto Metropolitan University is committed to sustainable waste management practices. Reducing our consumption, reusing more, recycling, and composting, means the university sends less waste to landfill. It also helps to preserve precious natural resources and contributes to efforts to save energy, conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

The Sustainability Office provides programming, education and outreach on ways to reduce waste generated on campus and  proper recycling and composting practices to help divert waste from landfills.

Improving waste diversion

The university's most recent waste audit showed that over 60% of all waste sent to landfill could be composted or recycled through existing streams. The Sustainability Office took tangible actions to improve our waste diversion rate. Between 2018 and 2021, we transitioned the campus from a three-stream system (waste to landfill, bottles and cans, and paper) to include a fourth stream - organics. We upgraded infrastructure to ensure consistency of waste bin type and signage across campus and actively engaged and trained our students, faculty and staff on how they can take part in reducing waste and maximizing recycling.

TMU’s waste diversion rate has hovered around 40% over the past 7 years and dropped to 20% in 2021, well  below the Province's target of 60%. While this marked a dramatic decrease from previous years, the amount of waste produced on campus dropped by approximately 75%. The variability in our waste audit results can be attributed to the impact of COVID-19, with fewer people on campus throughout the academic year.

Annual waste diversion rate

A column graph showing the percentage of waste diversion at TMU from 2013-2021. Long description below.

This bar graph shows TMU's annual waste diversion rates from 2013 to 2021 calculated in percentages.

Year Diversion Rate (%)
2013 34
2014 39
2015 33
2016 36
2017 40
2019 41
2021 19

Annual waste amounts by stream

A stacked bar graph showing the annual waste amounts by stream. Long description below.

This bar graph shows TMU's annual waste amounts in tonnes by stream from 2013 to 2021.

Stream 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2021
Landfill 1024.29 1008.9 1465.08 1572.07 960.92   1066.04 443.06
Compost 37.17 61.39 111.62 86.57 89.1   118.95 27.8
Recycled/Reuse 499.28 580.39 622.04 782.31 549.24   606.68 75.93

We continue to research and design effective ways to reduce waste at TMU, such as improved performance monitoring and developing toolkits to support zero waste programming.

Note: This page details waste information for Toronto Metropolitan University-owned campus buildings. Community members working in leased spaces are invited to contact the Facilities Help Desk at or 416-979-5091 for more information on waste diversion in their buildings.

What waste goes where

Learn what waste goes where at Toronto Metropolitan University and help divert recyclable and organic materials from landfill. By avoiding contamination that occurs when placing your waste in the wrong stream, you can stop items from being sent to landfill that could otherwise be recycled.

Thumbnail of Waste to Landfill signage. Contents are described in table within Waste to Landfill accordion.
Thumbnail of Mixed Paper signage. Contents are described in table within Mixed Paper accordion.
Thumbnail of Bottles and Cans signage. Contents are described in table within Bottles and Cans accordion.
Thumbnail of Organics signage. Contents are described in table within Organics accordion.

Engagement and educational events

The Sustainability Office hosts a number of engagement events throughout the year to help TMU students, faculty and staff learn about how to properly dispose of waste on campus. This includes an interactive What Waste Goes Where sorting game. We also started a waste monitoring program in 2016, where trained student volunteers are stationed beside ServiceHub bins in the Podium (POD) to help educate the community on what waste goes where. We participate annually in Waste Reduction Week, a national campaign that aims to raise awareness of waste reduction and a circular economy.

Look for bin compartments labelled “Waste” or “Waste to Landfill” to dispose of items that are not recyclable or compostable. Please double-check to see if it can be recycled before placing it in this stream.

What can I toss in the Waste to Landfill bin?
Accepted Prohibited
  • Adhesives (e.g. label paper)
  • Chip bags
  • Coffee cups and lids (sleeve is recyclable)
  • Plastic bags (e.g. grocery bags)
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Soiled aluminum foil/trays
  • Styrofoam food containers/cups
  • Textiles (donate if possible)
  • Wax paper
  • Wax-coated or plastic-lined drinking cups (e.g. coffee cups, fountain drink cups)
  • Wrappers
  • Ziplock bags

Look for bin compartments labelled “Bottles and Cans” to dispose of your recyclables. They must be empty of liquid or food but do not need to be rinsed or washed.

What can I toss in the Bottles and Cans bin?
Accepted Prohibited
  • Aluminum cans
  • Aluminum foil/trays
  • Clear and/or flexible plastics (e.g. takeout containers)
  • Glass (clear and coloured)
  • Plastic drink bottles
  • Polycoat containers (e.g. juice boxes, milk cartons)
  • Steel cans
  • Yogurt cups
  • Aerosol cans
  • Black plastic
  • Broken glass
  • Coffee cups and lids
  • Compostable plastic materials
  • Excessive food debris
  • Liquids
  • Rigid plastics (e.g. plastic cutlery)
  • Styrofoam food containers/cups
  • Textiles
  • Wax-coated or plastic-lined drinking cups (e.g. coffee cups, fountain drink cups)
  • Ziplock bags

Look for bin compartments labelled "Mixed Paper" or "Paper" to dispose of paper products. Paper must be free of food and liquid residue.

What can I toss in the Mixed Paper bin?
Accepted Prohibited
  • Boxboard (e.g. cereal box, tissue box, clean pizza slice tray)
  • Brown paper bags (including pastry bags, but don’t forget to remove the wax paper often included)
  • Coffee cup sleeves
  • Corrugated cardboard (e.g. pizza boxes)
  • Magazines
  • Molded pulp (e.g. clean paper plates, coffee trays)
  • Newspapers
  • Printer or lined paper
  • Adhesives (e.g. label paper)
  • Coffee cups
  • Food debris
  • Glass containers
  • Liquids
  • Metal containers
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic
  • Tissues
  • Wax paper and wax cardboard

Look for bin compartments labelled “Organics” to dispose of your compostable waste. Organic waste bins are located at the ServiceHub in Podium (POD) and in the Library Building. 

What can I toss in the Organics bin?
Accepted Prohibited
  • All food waste
  • Coffee grinds
  • Compostable foodware
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Soiled paper
  • Tea bags
  • Tissues
  • Muffin wrappers
  • Wooden stir sticks/chop sticks/toothpicks
  • Bags
  • Coffee cups
  • Cutlery
  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Plastic food containers
  • Styrofoam containers and cups
  • Wrappers

Specialized recycling streams

TMU is pleased to participate in a number of specialized recycling programs to help reduce unnecessary landfill waste.

TMU recycles all dry cell batteries. Visit campus maps and select “Battery recycling stations” from the legend to find out where you can safely dispose of your batteries on campus. You can also dispose of small mobile devices such as smartphones and cellphones at these locations. 

Important note before you dispose of your university-owned devices: For devices with storage systems, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the Computing and Communications Services (CCS) Help Desk at or 416-979-5000, ext. 556806. CCS staff can assist by wiping all confidential information from devices such as computers, printers, photocopiers, smartphones and cellphones.

To suggest an additional battery recycling location, please contact the Facilities Help Desk at or 416-979-5091.

Please collapse corrugated cardboard and place it neatly inside (or beside if it won’t fit) the central recycling bin for your area.

For TMU-owned devices with storage systems, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact Computing and Communications Services (CCS) for guidance wiping confidential information from university-owned devices such as computers, printers, photocopiers, smartphones and mobile phones. For assistance, please contact the CCS Help Desk at or 416-979-5000, ext. 556806.

If you have any electronic devices for disposal, please submit a service request to let us know. Facilities Management and Development ("Facilities") staff will come by to pick up the items from your location. Please do not place electronic devices in hallways or stairwells while waiting for pickup.

For the disposal of hazardous materials, visit Chemical Safety and navigate to the “Disposing of hazardous material” section.

Proper disposal of all ink and toner cartridges is important. By following the correct recycling process, you can help save resources and divert toxic waste from landfill.

Follow these steps to correctly dispose of your ink and toner cartridges.

  1. Place the old cartridge in a plastic bag (often included in the box) and then put it in its original box if retained. Otherwise, place the old cartridge in the new box. It’s important that toner is not leaking.
  2. Use the return label provided in the box. If no label is provided or if it has been lost, follow the link for your brand to access the appropriate printable label.
  3. Reseal the box with tape.
  4. Bring the sealed, labelled box to the university's 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.

If you are using a printer or fax machine labelled with the red Computing and Communications Services (CCS) tag and the brand is not included on this list, please contact the Facilities Help Desk at or 416-979-5091 to have it added.

If you are using a printer or fax machine not labelled with a CCS tag, try searching online for the brand and “cartridge recycling” for details. Most companies have free-of-charge recycling programs.

You can recycle your used writing utensils at TMU. In order to participate:

  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 (e.g. photocopy room, front desk).
  4. When the box is full, seal it with tape and bring it to 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! 

Items made mostly of metal can be recycled, whether it’s a finished product (e.g. old retractable banners) or raw material (e.g. scrap pieces from a workshop). If you have metal to be recycled, please request pick-up through the Facilities Help Desk in one of three ways:

  1. Complete an online  (google form) Waste Disposal – Service Request Form (external link) ;
  2. Email; or
  3. Call 416-979-5091.

For workshops or other areas of the university with large quantities of scrap metal, use a bin to collect the metal and request pick-up once it’s full.

On the lower ground floor of the Student Campus Centre (SCC) you will find a “Textbooks for Change” box where you can donate old post-secondary textbooks, study guides, course packs, foreign language textbooks and other study materials. The textbooks must be less than 15 years old. Learn more about Textbooks for Change (external link) .

Through a partnership with TerraCycle (external link) , Toronto Metropolitan University offers recycling receptacles for cigarette butts in various high-traffic areas on campus for community members to recycle their cigarette butts.

Image of a cigarette butt receptacle.

Locate a cigarette butt recycling station:

  • On Gould Street, east of Yonge Street, outside of the Sheldon & Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre (SLC) at 341 Yonge Street
  • On Church Street, north of Dundas Street, outside of the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex  (DCC) at 288 Church Street.
  • On Victoria Street Lane, south of Gould Street, outside of the rear entrance to the Victoria Building (VIC)
  • In the Pitman Quad, outside of the rear entrance to Pitmall Hall (PIT)
  • Outside of 112 Bond Street (PRO) and 114 Bond Street (BND).

Smoking and vaping is not permitted in certain areas on campus, including the Kerr Hall Quad. Learn more on the Smoking and Vaping on Campus page.

Specialized plastics including acrylic, styrene and ABS can be recycled in the waste/recycling room on the first floor of the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex (DCC), where you can find three bins designated for each type of plastic to minimize contamination.

For workshops or other areas of the university with large quantities of specialized plastics that have not already signed up for this program, please use a bin to collect the plastics and please request access to the room through the Facilities Help Desk (Fixit) in one of three ways:

  1. Complete the  (google form) Waste Disposal –  Service Request Form (external link) ;
  2. Email; or
  3. Call 416-979-5091.

TMU collects yard debris⁠—including leaves, mulch and plant materials like weeds and brush⁠—so that it can be converted to compost and kept out of landfill.compost. In 2019, TMU’s yard waste program diverted enough leaf and yard debris to fill one 20 yard bin and one 40 yard bin.

Waste reduction and reuse

Toronto Metropolitan University is focused on operating an efficient campus that prioritizes reuse and minimizes the amount of waste we produce. As individuals, reducing waste by purchasing only those items we truly need that are made to last, avoiding single use disposable items and reusing items are some of the most important ways we can reduce our environmental footprint and contribute to the circular economy. At TMU, we have a number of initiatives that individuals can take part in to reduce waste and support a reuse culture on campus.

TMU Furniture Rehome Program

In 2019, the Sustainability Office launched the TMU Furniture Rehome Program, an online platform for university faculty and staff to list items they no longer need and for others to use with no cost attached. Most donations can be described as either office furniture (chairs, desks, tables, or filing cabinets) or lab furniture (lab tables, shelves, or chairs). However, you can also exchange non-furniture items, such as office supplies, books, equipment, etc. 

Using this platform to pass along unwanted items saves money, ensures less waste goes to landfill and supports a zero-waste mindset at TMU. 

Contact if you have any questions or would like to join the program.

Learn more about the TMU Furniture Rehome Program.

Eco Move Out

With hundreds of students moving out of residence each spring many things end up in the garbage that could be reused or recycled. To help keep items out of the landfill, the Sustainability Office has partnered with Housing and Residence Life since 2016 to coordinate an annual Eco-Move Out event, which allows students to demonstrate sound environmental stewardship by donating their unwanted items. In three years, the initiative has diverted nearly 600 lbs of items from ending up in the landfill. 

Annual waste audits

Toronto Metropolitan University conducts annual waste audits in order to understand our waste streams and improve our waste management. This information also helps us identify ways to improve our diversion rate by developing and implementing plans to reduce, reuse and recycle. Learn more by reading the university's  (PDF file) most recent audit report and waste reduction plan.

Additional TMU initiatives

TMU Eats waste reduction efforts

TMU Eats encourages the reduction of single-use items through its reusable OZZI container program, offering a bring your own mug discount, and eliminating single-use plastics such as straws from its retail locations.

Bottled water free campus

TMU is bottled-water-free and encourages students, faculty, staff and visitors to carry a reusable bottle. This is supported by providing free, public drinking water and an increased investment in water fountains and water bottle refill stations throughout our campus. The sale of bottled water on campus was successfully phased-out in 2013 as an initiative launched by the students’ union.

Waste diversion and recycling at TMU

All streams of waste on campus are collected and removed by Waste Reduction Group, who began their contract with Toronto Metropolitan University in March 2018. This contractor handles and disposes of all TMU’s waste within Ontario, helping to reduce any additional waste in transporting materials.

After recycling, landfill and organics receptacles are emptied by Facilities staff, each stream is brought to a central location on campus, where it is collected by haulers from the Waste Reduction Group, and sorted at the end-site. Clean, recyclable items are sent to facilities that turn those materials into new products.

Organics are sent to anaerobic digester facilities in southwest Ontario, where bacteria/microorganisms break the organics down and turn it into a high-quality compost that is used for farming. As organics break down they produce methane gas, which is gathered in the enclosed facilities and used to power an electrical generator that feeds electricity back into the grid. At least one of these facilities also uses the heat produced by the generator (also enclosed), pumping it into onsite greenhouses to grow vegetables.

In Ontario, solid waste produced by the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional ICI) sector must be disposed of by the businesses and organisations that produce it. The municipality is not responsible for collecting the ICI sectors’ waste. This means that Toronto Metropolitan University, along with all other ICI actors, often independently contract out a company to collect and dispose of their waste. This independent management structure is why recycling rules at home may not be exactly the same as those on campus. Some key differences include:

  • Plastic grocery bags are accepted in the City of Toronto blue bins but must go in Waste to Landfill bins at TMU.
  • Styrofoam food containers and other styrofoam items are accepted in the City of Toronto blue bins but must go in Waste to Landfill bins at TMU.
  • City of Toronto blue bins combine metal and paper recyclables, but TMU splits these into separate streams.

For more information on municipal waste separation, visit the City of Toronto website for details on how to deal with waste when you’re off-campus (external link) .

Improve your waste footprint!

Facilities Services and Sustainability offers waste audits and waste training upon request. If you would like us to conduct a personalized waste audit of your space or provide a waste training session to your team, please complete the request form. Thank you for your commitment to sustainable waste practices on campus!

Waste Audit and Training Request Form (external link)