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Waste

Image of the new four stream waste receptacles at Ryerson.

Ryerson 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 Officeprovides 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

Ryerson’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 3-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. 

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

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

What waste goes where

Learn what waste goes where at Ryerson 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 Ryerson 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 Service Hub bins 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 Service Hub in Podium and in the Library. 

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

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

Ryerson 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 Ryerson-owned devices: For devices with storage systems, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the Computing and Communications Services (CCS) Help Desk at help@ryerson.ca 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 FMD Help Desk at fixit@ryerson.ca 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 Ryerson-owned devices with storage systems, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact Computing and Communications Services (CCS) for guidance wiping confidential information from Ryerson-owned devices such as computers, printers, photocopiers, smartphones and mobile phones. For assistance, please contact the CCS Help Desk at help@ryerson.ca 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 (FMD) 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 Ryerson Shipping and Receiving at 105 Bond Street, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alternatively, you can request pick-up from the Ryerson 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 FMD Help Desk at fixit@ryerson.ca 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 Ryerson. In order to participate:

  1. Find a box (e.g. office supplies, shoebox).
  2. Download the PDF fileStaples 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 Ryerson Shipping and Receiving at 105 Bond Street, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alternatively, you can request pick-up from the Ryerson 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! Learn more about how writing utensils are recycled, external link.

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 FMD Help Desk in one of three ways:

  1. Complete the Service Request Form;
  2. Email fixit@ryerson.ca; 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, Ryerson 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 Student Learning Centre (341 Yonge Street)
  • On Church Street, north of Dundas Street, outside of the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Science
  • On Victoria Street Lane, south of Gould Street, outside of the rear entrance to the Victoria Building 
  • East of Church Street, outside of the rear entrance to Pitmall Hall
  • On Bond Street, east of Victoria Street Lane, outside of 112 and 114 Bond

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 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 FMD Help Desk in one of three ways:

  1. Complete the Service Request Form;
  2. Email fixit@ryerson.ca; or
  3. Call 416-979-5091.

Ryerson 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, Ryerson’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

Ryerson 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 Ryerson, we have a number of initiatives that individuals can take part in to reduce waste and support a reuse culture on campus.

RUsed Furniture 

In 2019, Ryerson launched RUsed Furniture, an online platform for Ryerson 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 Ryerson. 

Contact sustainability@ryerson.ca if you have any questions or would like to join the 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 & 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 3 years, the initiative has diverted nearly 600 lbs of items from ending up in the landfill. 

Annual waste audits

Ryerson 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 PDF fileRyerson's most recent audit report and waste reduction plan.

Additional Ryerson initiatives

Ryerson Eats waste reduction efforts

Ryerson 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

Ryerson 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. Learn more about the Ryerson Students’ Union campaign that launched this initiative.

Locate our water fountains and bottle refill stations on our campus map.

Waste diversion and recycling at Ryerson

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

After recycling, landfill and organics receptacles are emptied by FMD 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 IC&I (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional) sector must be disposed of by the businesses and organisations that produce it. The municipality is not responsible for collecting the IC&I sectors’ waste. This means that Ryerson University, along with all other IC&I 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 Ryerson.
  • 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 Ryerson.
  • City of Toronto blue bins combine metal and paper recyclables, but Ryerson 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