Best practices for bins and signage

Knowing where to put materials once you are done using them can be confusing. For clarity, follow these guidelines to ensure that trash, recycling, and compost bins at Yale are used correctly.

Request a bin and signage

If your building needs bins, labels, or signage, work with your Facilities superintendent to obtain them. If your building is a leased space, contact University Properties at 203-432-8300.


Using the appropriate signage is a crucial way of communicating how to properly dispose of materials. Bins should be clearly labeled and posting additional signage nearby can provide more descriptive information about what (and what not) to place in each bin. 

When organizing events, consider posting additional signage for materials that are specific to that particular event (e.g. “recycle all glass bottles here”). If you are offering reusable options, be sure to direct visitors accordingly so those materials are returned to a central location rather than discarded. 

Download recycling signage or request labels and signage from your Facilities superintendent or building manager.


The pairing of bins—both interior and exterior—is crucial. For every trash bin, there should be a recycling bin next to it. If your work area includes composting, be sure to have a composting receptacle in place as well. Bins should always be available and accessible. 
When planning events, if the resources are available, have volunteers/workers monitoring the bins to ensure waste is disposed of correctly and that bins do not overflow.
Place bins in intuitive locations, near to where waste is expected to be generated (e.g. compost bins near where people are likely to eat).
Ensure bins are readily available and large enough (or emptied often enough) to accommodate the expected amount and types of waste. Overflowing bins cause litter and contamination of non-trash streams.

When serving food, request composting receptacles by submitting a routine Facilities service request at least a week in advance.

Bin types

Standard bin sets include a black bin for waste and a green bin for single-stream recycling.

Black for waste, green for single-stream recycling.

Use in interior public spaces and common areas within Yale-owned and occupied buildings.

Waste and single-stream recycling bins that are narrower than standard bins are available for areas where space is prohibitive.

Black for waste, green for single-stream recycling, or as labeled. Approved labels only.

Use in interior public spaces and common areas within Yale-owned and occupied buildings where space is prohibitive.

Deskside bin sets include a larger bin for mixed paper, and a smaller bin for waste that is non-food. Food waste should be placed in common area waste bins.

Large bin for recycling mixed paper, small bin for waste (non-food). Food waste should be placed in common-area bins.

Use in personal offices and workspaces.

See the table below for more information on what should, and  should not, be placed in mixed-paper bins.

Lab recycling bins are typically blue plastic bins.
Laboratory recycling

Blue bins are typically used for lab recycling.

Exterior waste and recycling bins are typically large and metallic. Black for waste, green for single-stream recycling.

Black for waste, green for single-stream recycling.

Use in outdoor Yale buildings and spaces, clearly labeled.


Mixed-paper bins

Acceptable Not Acceptable
White paper Paper clips
Colored paper Hanging files
Glossy paper Food service paper
Newspaper Paper cups
Thin cardboard Copy paper wrappers
Paper bags  
Envelopes with windows  
Manila folders  

Sticky notes

Shredded paper  
Staples are okay