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Recycling at Calvin

Responding to God's call to care for creation, Calvin College initiated a recycling program in the early 1980's. What started as a basic program to collect glass, metal, plastic and paper products has grown into a service able to handle a wide range of materials from styrofoam to construction debris. We are always looking to expand in new directions, so if you have an idea you want to share, please look for contact information below.

The recycling program at Calvin College is mananged by Grounds department staff. In addition to commonly recycled items such as paper, glass, metal and plastic, resident students and staff can recycle a variety of other materials. The college's Recycling Coordinator oversees the program and records totals on a yearly basis.

In 2011, the recycling totals included:

  • 18,354 fluorescent lamps
  • 2.55 tons of ballasts
  • 900 lbs. of batteries
  • 7.36 tons of electronics
  • 78 cubic yards of polystyrene
  • 10 lbs. of mercury devices
  • 42.03 tons of scrap iron
  • 120 tons of concrete
  • 26.57 tons of glass/metal/plastic
  • 45.39 tons of cardboard
  • 98.07 tons of paper
  • 5.44 tons of paperboard

According to industry standards, Calvin's 2011 paper and cardboard recycling alone saved:

  • 3,025 trees
  • 1,245,563 gallons of water
  • 588 cubic yards of landfill space
  • 14,057 gallons of oil
  • 10,677 pounds of air pollution effluents from entering the atmosphere

Recycling Guidelines

This is a list of items that can be recycled at Calvin:


Includes: All office/copy/printer paper, envelopes, newsprint, phone books, glossy/magazine paper, soft-cover books, and bags.

Excludes: Paper towels, napkins, tissues, protective envelopes, hard covers of books and laminated paper.

Note: Staples, paperclips and window envelopes are ok. When recycling books, please remove plastic or metal bindings and hard covers.


Includes: Shoe boxes, food and other product packaging boxes.

Excludes: Milk or juice cartons and boxes with plastic film windows.

Note: Please remove all food items and linings from boxes.

Corrugated Cardboard

Includes: All boxes with 'wavy' middle layer.

Note: Please remove all contents and break down the box. Pizza boxes are acceptable if they are not greasy.


Includes: All food and beverage containers, plastic grocery bags #2 and #4, clean aluminum foil, empty aerosol cans, soap/detergent/shampoo containers, and plastic items #1-7.

Excludes: Styrofoam, window glass, mirrors, porcelain, large plastic items (i.e. pales, barrels), sandwich/bread bags and plastic cutlery

Note: Please remove all items from containers.


Includes: All electronic items owned by the college and resident students.

Note: If your electronic item is in working condition, consider bringing it to a thrift store or donation site. Please remove and recycle all batteries.


Includes: All types of batteries from college and resident student devices.

Note: Please bring to the Physical Plant, a Building Services worker, residence desk, or department office.


Includes: Clean, white, molded polystyrene.

Excludes: Food cartons/trays, packing peanuts and expanded foam.

Note: Please remove all labels, tape and glue. Packing peanuts may be brought to Mail Services for re-use.


Includes: All types of light bulbs.

Note: Please bring to the Physical Plant or a Building Services worker for proper handling and storage.

Ballasts (for electricians only)

Includes: All types of ballasts.

Note: Please remove excess wire.

Universal Waste Items

Includes: All items that contain mercury, lead or other hazardous materials.

Note: Please place in a labeled box and bring it to the Physical Plant for proper handling. Hazardous material should be removed by appropriately trained personnel only. Contact the Environment Health and Safety department for assistance.

Scrap Metal

Includes: All metal items that do not qualify as hazardous or universal waste.

Note: Refrigerants, fuels and oils must be removed by the Mechanical Maintenance department.

Construction Debris (Physical Plant only)

Includes: Items generated by on-campus renovation and repair such as plumbing components, electrical wire, broken concrete and scrap iron.

Compostable Material

Includes: Plant material generated by on-campus activity.

Excludes: Food and biodegradable trash.

Note: Please bring to the Physical Plant Grounds department for proper disposal or contact the Grounds department to arrange a pick up.

Additional items that cannot be recycled

Includes: Laminated paper, transparencies, cartons with plastic spouts (Tetra Pak), and contaminated food and beverage containers.

Contact Info

Henry Kingma
Recycling Coordinator
Phone: (616) 526-6846