Waste and Recycling A-Z

A: Aerosols, Aluminium Cans/Foil, Asbestos Waste, Appliances.



On Campus: Some aerosols are categorised as hazardous waste, so please DO NOT put aerosols in to any bins on campus.  If your aerosol belongs to the University, contact waste@reading.ac.uk for recycling information (disposal is chargeable to the department).

Off Campus: Check with your local council, as some may permit empty household aerosols to be placed in the mixed recycling. Alternatively, take to your household waste recycling centre. Ensure that the aerosol is completely empty before you decide to recycle it. Do not pierce, crush or flatten the aerosol before recycling.

Aluminium Cans/Foil

Please wash out as best as you can before placing in the green-lidded mixed recycling bins located across campus.

It's important to note that items such as crisp packets are not made of aluminium foil. Do the scrunch test: scrunch an item in your hand, if it springs back it is not aluminium, so should be put in the general waste bin.    

Asbestos Waste

Check out the link for more information and to report any potential issues with asbestos on University property: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/health-andsafety/resources/hs-resources-asbestosawareness.aspx


See Electrical Appliances.


C: Cardboard, CDs, Chemicals, Cling film, Clothes & Textiles, Confidential, Catalogues, Cables, Clinical, Cooking Oil, Coffee Grounds & Tea Bags, Crisp Packets.



There are Paper and Card Recycling bins (with blue lids) inside and outside most University buildings, which should have labels on them with pictures and text about what types of paper and card items can be recycled. Small quantities of paper and card can also be placed in the Mixed Recycling bins (with green lids). Paper cups should not be put in the paper and card recycling bins, but should be put in the dedicated bins for paper cups that are found in main building foyers.

CDs, DVDs, Disks & Tapes

CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and floppy disks cannot be put into the recycling bins on campus.

On Campus only: To dispose of all types of media (e.g. cassettes, floppy disks or CDs and DVDs) which contain confidential information, please complete the online disposal form and they will be collected for secure disposal. This service is chargeable to University departments. Only media without confidential information should be placed in the general waste bins.


On Campus: A bulk collection of chemical waste is arranged every six months (normally around Easter and again during September/October) for University departments. Careful identification and listing is a requirement of this service. The cost of the service is charged back to departments according to the types and quantities of waste involved.  If you require an urgent collection, or have items which cannot wait until the next bulk collection, please email waste@reading.ac.uk.

Off Campus: Check if disposal instructions are provided on the container. Most items will need to be taken to your local household waste recycling centre.

Cling film

Cling film is non-recyclable, please place in the General Waste bins.

Clothes & Textiles

On Campus: It is not anticipated that the University will produce many clothes or textiles. Donations (e.g. to charities) may be possible subject to permission being granted from the Procurement Department.

Off Campus: For students living in halls of residence, there may be textile and clothing recycling bins provided for your use. Otherwise, recycling points are commonly found at large supermarkets.  Please also consider donating items in good condition to local charity shops, or sell them yourself.

Confidential Waste Papers

On Campus only: Confidential waste paper is shredded and recycled. All confidential waste paper should be placed in shredding sacks (or a datasafe console if you have one); empty confidential waste shredding sacks can be requested by sending an email to waste@reading.ac.uk (staff in Whiteknights House please email postroom@reading.ac.uk). Only fill the sacks with paper up to the line. Plastic covers, comb bindings, lever arch/ring binders and metal bindings must be removed (although staples and paper clips are acceptable in small quantities).

When bags are nearly full, please fill in the online disposal form here to request collection.

For large clear-outs or disposal of boxes of archived materials, please contact waste@reading.ac.uk to discuss options.


Catalogues (and brochures) can be placed in the blue-lidded Paper and Card Recycling bins.


On Campus: Please DO NOT put cables into general waste bin. Please submit a disposal request via the online disposal form here. This service is chargeable to the Department.

Off Campus: Please take these to your local household waste recycling centre.

Clinical Waste

Clinical waste is any waste which poses a threat of infection to humans. The term also includes drugs or other pharmaceutical products.

On Campus Only: Clinical waste should be placed into the yellow containers designed especially for the containment and disposal of waste that is hazardous to health, in order to minimise risks. This service is chargeable to the Department. Please DO NOT put any clinical waste into your recycling or general waste bins.

Contact waste@reading.ac.uk for the provision of additional clinical waste containers.

Cooking Oil

Waste cooking oil should be stored in drums with a secure lid to prevent spills; and then put into a bunded external store. These are then collected and disposed of by a university-approved waste contractor. Please contact catering@reading.ac.uk for more details.

Coffee Grounds & Tea Bags

On Campus: Coffee grounds from the main catering outlets are collected and then sent for treatment by Anaerobic Digestion to make electricity and fertiliser. In all other areas, they should be put in the General Waste bins - the contents of which are then sent to an Energy from Waste facility to generate electricity - it is not sent to landfill.

Off Campus: Coffee grounds and tea bags can be put in your food waste caddy, if your council or halls provide this service. Otherwise, try composting them yourself, using the coffee grounds as mulch in the garden, or dispose of in the general waste.

Crisp Packets

Crisp packets are not collected seperately on campus, so please place them in the General Waste bins; however, they can be recycled via certain schemes such as via TerraCycle (see www.terracycle.com/en-GB/brigades/crisppacket) which have off-site collection points.



E: Electrical Appliances, Envelopes.


Electrical Appliances

On Campus: For University-owned items, please submit a disposal request via the online disposal form here. The Portering team will collect these items and then send them for recycling. This service is chargeable to the department. If you have a particularly heavy or bulky item, and for all fridges/freezers, please contact waste@reading.ac.uk For IT equipment, please see the section below entitled 'IT Waste'.

Off Campus: If you are a student living in halls of residence, please check if your hall has a collection point. Otherwise, items should be recycled at your local household waste recycling centre.


On Campus: Re-use envelopes wherever possible, especially for internal mail, or put them in the blue-lidded Paper and Cardboard Recycling bins (if available) or green-lidded Mixed Recycling bins.

Off Campus: Remove the stamps and collect them for charities who sell them on to raise money for their cause.  Recycle in line with local guidelines.

G: Green Waste, Glass.


Green Waste

The University composts most of its green waste (e.g. hedge trimmings, leaves, twigs) for reuse across the grounds of the estate.  Green waste should not be brought to campus from home; it cannot be composted or disposed of on campus.


On Campus: There are Glass Recycling bins, or Bottle Banks, outside many buildings across the campuses - glass bottles and jars should be emptied, and any tops or corks removed before recycling.
Heat-proof glass, such as Pyrex, cannot be recycled at present, so should not be put in the recycling bins or bottle banks; it must be put in the General Waste bins.
Empty glass Winchesters that have contained chemicals can be recycled in the Glass Recycling bins or Bottle Banks, but these should be washed out first, have the lids removed, and have their labels removed or obviously crossed out with marker pen (or have the word ‘EMPTY’ written on them), or else bottles will be considered to be hazardous waste.

Look out for bottle banks and wheelie bins for recycling glass which are located outside buildings.
Whiteknights campus glass recycling location map
London Road campus glass recycling location map


Contact waste@reading.ac.uk for the disposal of large amounts of laboratory glassware, heat-proof glass or broken glass.

Off Campus: Some councils will collect glass bottles and jars as a kerbside service. Bottle banks are also frequently located at large supermarkets or public spaces.

I: IT Waste, Ink Cartridges.


IT Waste

On Campus: All IT equipment, mobile phones and other data-holding devices that are owned or managed by the University, that cannot be re-used within a School/Function, must be disposed of via the University's appointed contractor, so that any data-holding components are securely destroyed in-line with University's IT Equipment Disposal Policy. To dispose of small amounts of University IT equipment (up to 20 items), please complete the online disposal request form. For larger collections please contact waste@reading.ac.uk
Digital Technology Services (DTS) re-homes suitable IT equipment on site, and the disposal contractor strips-down non-data holding components to re-use or refurbish individual parts and units.

Off Campus: Please read the University's IT Equipment Disposal Policy and the Bring Your Own Device Policy if you are using a device that is not owned/managed by the University for your University work.

Ink Cartridges

See Printer/Photocopier Consumables.

M: Medicines, Metal, Microwaves, Mobile Phones, Monitors & TVs



See Clinical Waste.


On Campus: Metal tins, cans and foil should be placed in the green-lidded Mixed Recycling bins. All other metal items can be recycled, but need to be collected in a different way - please submit a disposal request via the online waste disposal request form here.

Microwave ovens

See WEEE for more details.

Mobile Phones

All mobile telephones that are no longer required should be returned to DTS (Digital Technology Services).  All handsets will be securely disposed of and all data from will be securely destroyed.  DTS will update the University system with the phone number and IMEI for audit purposes.

See also IT Waste.

Monitors & TVs

TVs and computer monitors can be recycled - See WEEE and IT Waste - but old-style CRT models are classed as hazardous waste so need to be segregated from other items.

O: Oil, Ovens.



The storage of large amounts of oil must comply with legislation to prevent pollution. Small amounts of oil can also cause harm to the environment if spilt or poured down drains.

On Campus: All waste oils, except edible oil, are deemed hazardous under Hazardous Waste Regulations. To dispose of any type and quantity of oil please contact waste@reading.ac.uk. Waste oil containers should be sealed and stored securely. Large amounts of oil should be contained in double-skinned containers with a big enough bund to contain 110% of the maximum capacity.

Off Campus: Waste oil can be taken to your local household waste recycling centre.

See also: Cooking Oil


Ovens are classed as electrical equipment, so see WEEE for more details.

R: Recycling Collections, Radioactive Waste, Rubber Bands.


Recycling Collections

Recycling bins are located across the University estate, both inside and outside buildings.  Collections are carried out daily by our cleaning staff and porters.  Our contractor, Select Environmental Services, collects different materials from across the estate and transfers them to reclamation facilties, where they are treated.

Radioactive Waste

On Campus Only: The University requires a permit from the Environment Agency for radioactive materials - please contact Health and Safety Services Scientific Safety Adviser on extension 8887 for more information.

Rubber Bands

You can reduce the number of bands we need to purchase each year by simply returning your bands to the Post Room in an envelope marked 'Rubber Bands - Post Room'.

T: Textiles, Televisions, TetraPak, Tyres, Toner Cartridges, Tin Cans.



See Clothing and Textiles.


See Monitors and TVs.

Tetra Pak

Tetra Paks and food cartons cannot be recycled within our current recycling collections. They are a composite material consisting of card, plastic and aluminium foil, which the recycling centre cannot split apart. Please place in the General Waste bins.

Tracing Paper

Tracing paper cannot be recycled within our current recycling collections. It can be made from various different materials - not always actually paper - please place in the General Waste bins.


There is a ban on tyres being sent to landfill.

On Campus: Tyres from personal vehicles should not be disposed of anywhere on campus or at the Halls of Residences. Please contact waste@reading.ac.uk for disposal advice for tyres from University activities.

Off Campus: For disposal advice for tyres from personal vehicles, consult your local council.

Toner Cartridges

See Printer/Photocopier cartridges and consumables.

Tin Cans

These are made of steel or aluminium making them 100% recyclable; and can be reprocessed again and again without loss of quality.

Please dispose of empty metal cans in the green-lidded Mixed Recycling bins.


B: Bins, Batteries, Books & Brochures, Box Files, Bottles, Bulbs, Bin Bags, Biological Waste, Bicycles.



Please DO NOT dispose of any batteries in the general waste bins.

On Campus:  Please do not bring in batteries from home. University-used small dry-cell batteries (e.g. AA, AAA) can be sent in an envelope via the internal post to 'Battery Recycling - Post Room, Whiteknights House' free of charge. There are also battery collection points for small batteries in some buildings.  For larger batteries, such as lead-acid or Ni-Cd batteries, and all Lithium-ion/Lithium-polymer batteries (including those that are damaged or swollen), contact waste@reading.ac.uk for storage and disposal advice - the costs of disposing of these batteries will be re-chargeable to the department.

Off Campus: You can recycle batteries at most larger shops - if they sell batteries, they should offer facilities for recycling old batteries.

Books & Brochures

Books should be offered for re-use, if possible.

Paper-backed books, magazines and brochures can be placed in the blue-lidded Paper and Card Recycling bins.  Look out for these signs:

Individual hard-backed books should have the covers removed before the paper is placed in the Paper and Card Recycling bins, and the cover should be put in the General Waste bins.  For departments that want to dispose of a lot of hard-backed books, our waste contractor can offer a bespoke recycling service - contact waste@reading.ac.uk for more details.

Box files

Box files are normally made from a combination of paper and wooden sections, so cannot be put in the Paper & Cardboard Recycling bins, unless the wood is first removed.

On Campus: They can also be advertised for re-use to the rest of the University via Warp-it. 


See Plastic Bottles or Glass Bottles.

Bulbs (lightbulbs)

See also Fluorescent Tubes and Projector bulbs.

Do not recycle lightbulbs in glass recycling as they are made from a different type of glass and also contain metal parts; they will need to be collected seperately.

Old style bulbs (i.e. non-energy saving bulbs, non-halogen bulbs) are NOT recyclable. Please dispose of these in the general waste.

On Campus Only: If you have fluorescent tubes/bulbs or LED bulbs, these need to be collected seperately, so please check with waste@reading.ac.uk for how to do this.

Bin Bags

On Campus: Black plastic bags are used at the University for general waste. Clear plastic bags are used at the University for mixed recycling, so that we can see what is being collected to ensure that the correct things are sent for recycling. If you require any black or clear bin bags (e.g. you are having an office clear out and will be generating large quantities of waste) please contact Cleaning Services (cleaning@reading.ac.uk) to obtain these (charges may apply).

Off Campus: Please check with your local council whether you need to use a particular colour bag for your general waste or recycling.

Biological Waste

On Campus:  Please contact the Technician or person responsible in your area for disposal of biological waste.


On Campus:  Please contact sustainability@reading.ac.uk for advice on the disposal of bicycles owned by the University.

Off Campus: Even if your bike is in bad condition, it could still be re-used. Some organisations (Re-Cycle) take old bikes and refurbish them for charity or community projects. Or sell it! Try advertising on the University notice boards or in local ads.

D: Directories, Drinks Cans, DVD's.



Directories can be placed in the paper and card recycling bins.  

Drinks cans

Please empty out any liquid and put in the green-lidded Mixed Recycling bins.



See CDs, DVDs, disks and tapes.

F: Fluorescent Tubes & Projector Bulbs, Fridges & Freezers, Furniture, Fly-tipping, Folders, Food Waste.


Fluorescent Tubes & Projector Bulbs

On Campus: Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), as well as bulbs from projectors, are classified as hazardous waste. Don't put these in any recycling bins on campus - please email waste@reading.ac.uk for advice.

Off Campus: Some larger supermarkets offer recycling points for household fluorescent (energy saving) bulbs. Otherwise take them to your local household waste recycling centre.

Fridges & Freezers

On Campus: These are classed as a type of hazardous waste and must be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. Fridges and freezers from laboratries must be cleaned and decontaminated before collection, in such a way as to remove or render harmless any:

  • Microbiological agents
  • Chemical compounds
  • Biochemical compounds
  • Radioactive compounds
  • Hazardous substances.

Collection and disposal of fridges & freezers is a chargeable service. Please email waste@reading.ac.uk to book a fridge or freezer collection.

Off Campus: Your local council may be able to arrange a bulky waste collection from your doorstep, or alternatively take to your local household waste recycling centre.


On Campus: If you have any unwanted furniture, office stationery or supplies that are in good condition, please offer them for re-use via Warp-it, there is more information here.

If you do not have time to offer your furniture for re-use via Warp-it, and it requires disposal, please complete an online disposal request form (charges apply).

Off Campus: Some charities run furniture shops which welcome donations of furniture in good condition. Otherwise, furniture could be offered for re-use on community groups such as Freecycle or Freegle. If it cannot be re-homed, it should be taken to the local amenity tip.


It is illegal to dump waste or fly-tip it on private or public land. Fines can be as high as £20,000 and even imprisonment. If you see fly-tipping anywhere at the University, please report it to waste@reading.ac.uk


See Stationery

Food Waste

On Campus: Food waste is collected from all major catering outlets at the University; and is taken to an anaerobic digestion plant where electricity is generated from it.  See also Coffee Grounds/Tea bags.

Off Campus: Your local council may offer a kerbside food waste collection.

H: Hazardous Waste.


Hazardous Waste

This includes, but is not restricted to the following; fluorescent tubes/light bulbs, fridges, freezers and refrigeration units, some aerosols and fire extinguishers, oils of various types, heavy metals (mercury, cadmium etc.), various chemicals (e.g. cleaning chemicals or laboratory chemicals), drugs, some batteries, IT equipment and some WEEE (waste electric and electrical equipment).

As well as correctly identifying and handling hazardous waste, it is vital that the University only works with properly licensed waste operatives and carriers. Contact waste@reading.ac.uk for disposal information; or for safety guidance on handling hazardous waste, contact Health and Safety Services on x8888.

L: Landfill, Light Bulbs, Lithium Batteries.



Sending waste to landfill represents a loss of valuable resources, generates greenhouse gases and can degrade the surrounding environment. Wherever possible, the University diverts waste away from landfill (ideally through reducing the amount generated in the first place, re-using items, and then recycling materials); less than 2% of all our waste by weight ends up in landfill. Most of the general waste at the University is not sent to landfill; instead it goes to a plant where it is burned to generate electricity.

Light Bulbs

For old-style incandescent and halogen bulbs, see Bulbs

For energy saving and projector bulbs, see Fluorescent Tubes & projector bulbs

Lithium-ion and Lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries

Please contact waste@reading.ac.uk for advice on how to store and dispose of Lithium batteries, including those that are damaged or swollen. Lithium batteries are generally safe and unlikely to fail, but, if they are damaged or have defects, they may present a fire and/or explosion risk.


N: Nappies, Needles, Newspapers.



On Campus: Small numbers of nappies can be placed in general waste bins. However, for frequent disposals (which would then be classed as offensive waste) please contact waste@reading.ac.uk

Off Campus: To help to reduce the total amount of waste going to landfill. Why not try reusable nappies


On Campus: These should be placed in yellow sharps boxes for clinical waste disposal via the clinical waste wheelie bins.

Also see Clinical waste.


Newspaper can be recycled in the blue-lidded recycling bins - see Paper and Cardboard.


P: Plastic Bottles & Containers, Paper Cups, Paints, Paper & Card, Paper Towels & Serviettes, Phones, Phone Books, Printer Cartridges, Packaging, Printers.



Plastic Bottles & Containers

Items with the following recycling codes can be put in the green-lidded Mixed Recycling bins (but must be clean):

Please empty and rinse before placing in recycling bins.

Paper Cups

Paper cups used for drinks can now be recycled on Campus in special bins only - please look out for these in or near catering outlets and building foyers. Please put your paper cups in the dedicated
cup recycling collection bins with a pink label; but please remove lids, tea bags and all liquid.

Paper cup bin Paper cups bin


Paint is deemed to be hazardous waste under the Hazardous Waste Regulations.

On Campus: Empty tins containing residues only should be left open to completely dry, then they may be disposed of in the general waste bins. Contact waste@reading.ac.uk to arrange collection of full or partly-full tins as hazardous waste.

Paper & Card Recycling

See: Cardboard

Paper Towels & Serviettes

Paper towels and serviettes cannot be recycled. Please place these in the General Waste bins.

Phones – Desk phones

On Campus Only: Desk phones are deemed WEEE – please submit a disposal request via the online disposal form here.

Mobile phones are classed as IT waste due to their data storing capacity.

Phone Books

Phone Books can be recycled by placing them in the Paper and Card Recycling bins.

Printer/Photocopier Cartridges & Consumables

On Campus Only: The University has a recycling scheme for all the consumable components in printers and photocopiers. This includes all toner bottles and imaging drums. This service is free of charge.

When replacing the consumable, the old item should be placed inside the packaging that the new one came in. This should then be placed in a Konica Minolta recycling box, which can be found in most foyers, Porters Lodges and departments. Email porters@reading.ac.uk if the box needs exchanging for an empty one, or if you would like a box in your area.

Off Campus:  Some charities collect empty ink cartridges for recycling.

Packaging waste

On Campus: Bubble wrap and expanded polystyrene cannot be recycled at the University, so please place in the General Waste bins.  Consider if bubble wrap can be used again, or advertise it on Warp-it for other University departments to use.

Cardboard can be recycled in the blue-lidded Paper and Card Recycling bins. Please remove excessive tape and plastic wrapping before recycling.


See IT Waste.


S: Shoes, Stationery, Skips, Symbols, Sharps.



See Clothes and Textiles.


Please re-use stationery wherever possible.

On Campus: It can also be advertised for reuse to the rest of the University via Warp-it.


If your department is clearing large amounts of unwanted items you may want to hire a skip. Charges for this service can change quickly, but Sustainability Services can give you a current estimate.

Note that certain items are not permitted in skips, and some items will require their own dedicated skips. Please contact waste@reading.ac.uk for further information.

Symbols - recycling

Recycling symbols can be confusing! Check out this link to shed some light on the subject: http://www.recyclenow.com/why_recycling_matters/recycling_symbols.html


See Clinical Waste.


W: Washing Machines, WEEE, White Goods, Wood.


Washing Machines


See also White Goods.


Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is the name given to any item that is powered via mains electricity or by batteries; such as a kitchen appliance, mobile phone, computer, TV.

WEEE items should not be placed in General Waste bins, but must be collected seperately.

On Campus: Please complete the online disposal request form. WEEE can also be deemed as hazardous waste i.e. fridges and freezers, CRT screens and batteries. These items need to be stored safely and securely to prevent pollution and to prevent risk to health.

Off Campus: Electrical items can usually be disposed of at your local household waste recycling centre. Your local council may also provide a bulky waste collection (e.g. for white goods).

WEEE symbol

White Goods

Includes fridges, freezers, cookers, washing machines and dishwashers. See WEEE.


Solid Wood is Recyclable!  

MDF or Laminate is not recyclable.

On Campus: If your department has any solid wood to be disposed of (pallets or broken furniture) this can be recycled via the Porters. Chipboard, MDF or laminate, is not recycled. Please submit an online disposal request form.

Off Campus: Wood can usually be recycled at your local household waste recycling centre. However some charities accept donations of wood for social enterprise projects or broken wooden furniture to repair (e.g www.oxfordwoodrecycling.org.uk


If you have any queries about the content of this document, or require any further information about waste, please contact: Waste@reading.ac.uk

Skip to content