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UH Recycles

This page describes the program for recycling and disposing of refuse at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and explains the protocols for a number of categories of refuse.

UH Mānoa is committed to working towards sustainability and reducing our environmental footprint. We have recycling bins across campus (see map!) and have recently installed new signs to aid in properly sorting recyclables and refuse. Buildings and Grounds Management (BGM) is working with student groups to increase education around recycling and sustainability, following the "reduce, re-use, and recycle" strategy of waste reduction.


People arriving in Hawai‘i from one of the continents are often surprised to find recycling options more limited here. Recycling still takes resources, particularly in transportation, and the distance from our islands to processing facilities makes recycling some materials unfeasible. For instance, we cannot recycle all kinds of "recyclable" plastics here, such as those used in Starbucks and Jamba Juice cups, and so those become mere rubbish here, a strain on waste disposal systems and a threat to the marine environment.

Consequently, we work with the campus community to reduce our use of disposable products as much as possible. There's been a dramatic reduction in newsprint recycling with the shift to online news sources, and as KaLeo has improved the efficiency of its press run. It's been good to see the growing trend towards use of personal water bottles, drinking vessels and eating utensils, and we are working to promote the wider adoption of the Japanese tradition of personal hand towels (tenugui). If you have suggestions for ways we can better support reduced consumption, please don't hesitate to let us know.


UH Mānoa has several programs to reduce both the production of waste and the consumption of new materials through the redistribution of used goods to places where they can find further use. Departments can use the online UH Swap Meet to list used office, computer and lab equipment, or ask for equipment they need. UH also participates in a similar State of Hawai‘i program, described below. On an informal level, some groups on campus have organized unofficial "free stores" to exchange art supplies, plant seeds, books and other items.

At BGM/Landscaping, we have a wonderful "green waste" program which keeps plant nutrients and biomass on-site. Green waste is collected daily by Landscaping Working Supervisors from each maintenance zone on campus and is transported to our processing area at Lower Campus. The green waste processing area is located between the football practice field and the quarry wall, right below Frear Hall.


The green waste is placed in the hopper of a large tub grinder and ground up and placed in long piles no more than 8' high. The piles are turned weekly for several months and then distributed throughout campus to be used as mulch in planter beds and around trees. This save the campus $20,000 annually in tipping fees alone! We no longer purchase soil conditioner or mulch and we are able to provide cover mulch to our contractors as needed to protect our soils from eroding during construction at no cost to the project.

To help us determine how much mulch we are creating and to provide us with a metric we measured the amount of time it took us to grind 3 cubic yards of mulch and we weighed the finish product. We then had an understanding of how many tons of mulch we were able to produce in a given time.

& recycle

Finally, for those materials we do end up needing to throw away, we have a variety of means of recycling them through different pathways, with disposal through H-Power or the landfill being the last resort. The charts below show our recent history, although we lack the data for some categories because of the way the material is collected, including the last few years of green waste and ewaste. The amount of trash, especially going to the landfill, has declined as our recycling efforts have improved.


Tracking Trash: Zero Waste efforts at UH Mānoa

For most people, trash is something better left out of sight and out of mind.  But not confronting our waste habits has fiscal and environmental consequences.  Based on procurement records, UH Mānoa uses 21 tons of paper towels annually.  This cost $98,138.00 in 2016 and creates enough waste to cover 2,121 miles (nearly the distance from Hawai‘i to California).  And this cost doesn’t even account for the economic and environmental impacts (deforestation, depletion of freshwater resources, transportation emissions) associated with the production and distribution of paper towels.  

In 2017, to better understand our impact, UH Mānoa is conducting a waste audit. A public event, held 8:30 am- 1:30 pm at Legacy Path on Thursday, Oct. 19th and Friday, Oct. 20th, is designed to highlight for students, faculty, and administration the reality of the campus waste stream, while providing valuable data to empower the administration to make better choices about holistic procurement and disposal practices. “In order to manage our waste we need to first understand what we are throwing away so that we can responsibly direct our purchasing and minimize our disposal,” points out Roxanne Adams, UH Mānoa’s Director of Building and Grounds Management (BGM).

This audit is an update and expansion on a 2008 audit led by a group of students with the support of BGM.  This initial audit provided a valuable baseline of UH Mānoa waste generation and created a value proposition for adopting zero waste policies.  Zero Waste is a concept that helps conceptualize and address the impacts of our procurement, consumption, and waste patterns.   According to the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), Zero Waste is “a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to imitate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.”

The update audit will target specific types of waste (i.e. plastic utensils, disposable beverage containers) to enable a more targeted response from the UH community.  This audit protocol will be shared as a template for other UH campuses to utilize so we can asses the system-wide waste footprint per the direction of UH Executive Policy on Sustainability.  This policy commits UH to cultivate system sustainability through both waste reduction and sustainable procurement (see UH Executive Policy, EP 4.202).  "This waste sort is an important step in achieving our waste reduction goals at UH Mānoa," states the Office of Sustainability Waste Reduction Fellow Navin Tagore-Erwin.

Navin Tagore-Erwin, the Waste Reduction Fellow with the UH System Office of Sustainability, conducting a pilot audit at the Agricultural Science Building.
QLC dumpster
Full dumpsters outside of QLC. Is there any way we can minimize what we are tossing? This waste audit will help us figure that out.

Recycling protocols

Listed below are the different protocols for various waste streams throughout the UH Manoa Campus. Please click here to go to the University of Hawaii’s onemap – and select recycling and refuse and expand the options to locate the nearest receptacle near you.

RecyclablesPaper Recycling Carts

All newspaper, white & colored office paper goes in these green toters. Bagged shredded paper can also be deposited in this bin, and staples are okay. Please see our map above for exact locations. Bins are emptied every Monday.

No telephone books, rubber bands, magazines, binder clips, metal prongs, spiral binding, bound books or manila folders. These items should be deposited in the large green dumpsters and will be transported to H-Power for disposal.


Recyclables Cardboard Recycling Dumpsters

All old corrugated cardboard (OCC) should be flattened and placed in these blue dumpster located throughout the campus. No single-layer flatboard, such as cereal boxes and tissue boxes are accepted by our recycler. Please see our map above for exact locations. Bins are emptied every Tuesday and Friday or as needed.


Recyclables Mixed Recycling Barrels and Carts

Please deposit all items loose into receptacle —do not bag, tie or bundle recyclable materials— and clean as follows:

  • Metal cans, aluminum & steel: rinse.
  • Glass bottles & jars (includes containers for beverages, wine, spirits, food): rinse, remove and discard lids and tops.
  • Plastic containers (#1 and #2 only; look for the plastic number code in a triangle embossed on containers): rinse, remove and discard lids and tops.
  • No Starbucks cups, Jamba Juice cups, bubble tea cups, plastic bags, napkins, plate lunch plates and utensils.

Recyclables Trash Cans

It is permissible to place refuse and non-recyclables in these receptacles.


Recyclables Refuse Dumpster

It is permissible to place refuse and non-recyclables in these receptacles.


Computers and Electronics (E-Waste)

UH Mānoa eWaste Pick-Up Program


UH Landscaping accepts E-Waste all year long for University-owned ewaste equipment.. On the UH Manoa campus you can arrange for pick-up/consolidation of University-owned equipment by Buildings & Grounds throughout the year by one of three methods:

  1. Delivering equipment to Landscaping, M-F 6:00 -10:30 am, 11:30 am - 2:00 pm
  2. Completing an eFacilities AiM Work Order, arranging for pick-up at your office by Facilities-Trucking.
  3. Completing an eFacilities AiM Work Order, and calling BGM-Landscaping at 956-7922 to arrange a time and place to pick-up ewaste near your building.

If you have mercury containing, loose projector bulb, please contact the UH Environmental Health and Safety Office for proper disposal.

Metal and Bulk items


Used Furniture

Used furniture is gathered from the campus community via customer work request or as abandoned on campus. Furniture that is damaged and deemed unusable is recycled as metal or disposed of at the landfill. Furniture that is in good conditioned is palletized and weighed and logged as a recyclable. This usable furniture is donated to the State of Hawai‘i Procurement Office Surplus Warehouse.

This furniture is made available at a discounted price to all State of Hawai‘i offices. If UHM Faculty and Staff would like to acquire any of these furnishings they are welcome to contact or visit

Surplus Property Office (SPO)
729 Kakoi Street
Honolulu, HI 96819
or call (808) 831-6757 or email Craig Kuraoka

Move in Move out protocol for faculty and staff.

If your are moving in or out of a location and have large bulky items to dispose of, or if you require assistance with transporting furniture from SPO, please submit a work request via AiM for assistance or contact the Work Coordination Center at 956-7134

Environmental Health & Safety Office (EHSO) Procedures

Get recycling receptacles for your building!

  • Download an application to participate in the University of Hawai‘i Volunteer HI-5 Recycling Program here.

UH Recycles

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2002 East-West Road

Honolulu, HI  96822

ph: 808.956.4626

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