Waste & Recycling

GW's recycling truck
GW's recycling truck makes the rounds on campus

GW is committed to reducing on-campus waste, as well as ensuring that its recycling program is comprehensive and robust. In fall 2012, GW launched its Ecosystems Enhancement Strategy- to complement the climate and water plans. GW commits to reviewing its impact and dependence on ecosystems locally, regionally, and globally, and to make a plan to enhance ecosystem services in these regions. As part of the plan, GW commits to becoming a “Zero Waste” campus in the long-term. In the short term, GW aims to divert 40 percent of its waste stream by 2020, while also reducing the incidence of litter on campus. .

Check out GW's Roadmap to Zero Waste.

Check out our 2015 Litter Survey


If you have any questions about the university’s recycling policies please email [email protected]

Waste & Recycling


Recycling has been made easy! As of Fall 2013, GW has adopted a single stream recycling system. Now all designated recyclable materials (non-soiled paper, plastic beverage and food containers, cardboard, and steel/tin aluminum, glass, milk and juice cartons) can all be placed in the same container. This new system simplifies recycling for our students, faculty and staff and will help GW boost our current recycling rate of 29 percent.

At our Foggy Bottom Campus, recyclables are collected by GW crews and delivered to the Waste Management Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Prince William County for processing. At our Ashburn Campus, GW utilizes a private sector hauler to manage our recyclables. 

Keep an eye out for new single stream recycling signage on our indoor containers throughout campus. The DivOps Zero Waste Team has also procured 67 Recycling Rain Bonnets for placement on our outdoor Victor Stanley green recycling containers. These Rain Bonnets feature single-stream recycling signage that describe what materials can be accepted into the container. The Bonnets also prevent rain, snow and other elements from entering and contaminating the materials.

For a list of acceptable items in our new program, please visit GW’s Guide to Single Stream Recycling.

Please DO NOT Recycle: soiled paper and napkins, snack food packets & wrappers, Styrofoam containers, non-recyclable lids, straws, paper cups, soiled pizza boxes, and disposable cutlery.

The Green Office Network can conduct trainings for your department on proper recycling practices; learn more and request a meeting.


Community Recycling (CR)

Community Recycling (CR) has assisted the Zero Waste Team at George Washington University (GW) since 2014, helping GW advance their Zero Waste goals by diverting clothing, bedding, and other textiles from the waste stream. This partnership has spanned two major initiatives: Green Move-Out and permanent collection bins. GW has four (4) permanent bins on campus and hopes to expand to additional residence halls in the future. To date these bins have diverted approximately 15,000 pounds of clothing. A list of residence halls with the drop-off bins include:
  • West Hall (Mount Vernon Campus)
  • Thurston Hall (Foggy Bottom)
  • Shenkman Hall (Foggy Bottom)
  • South Hall (Foggy Bottom)


George Washington collects and disposes of electronic items including (but not limited to) printers (with paper removed), PC's, CRT monitors, laptop computers, hard drives, networking equipment and telephones from Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon and VSTC locations. E-cycling of electronic materials is available university-wide via one of the three methods detailed below.

1.   GW community members can submit a “FixIT*” ticket to request removal of heavy or large amounts of GW owned electronics. The DivOps Transportation Services team will pick up these items and deliver them to a large metal Sea-Crate container located behind the Support Building.

2.   The Zero Waste & Logistics team also provides a drop-box at the Support Building loading dock located at 2025 F Street Northwest, to encourage members of the GW community to recycle electronics.

3.   The third avenue is via an E-cycling “Tower.” E-cycling towers have been placed around campus to offer community members a more convenient way to drop off materials.  These blue kiosks take: Printer cartridges; Batteries; Small devices such as personal cell phones (not GW-owned); and CFL lightbulbs (due to their hazardous nature these are handled by the office of health and safety), and are located in the following buildings:

  • Marvin Center (Ground Floor Elevators)
  • Science and Engineering Hall (1st Floor West)
  • Gelman Library (Basement Level 2)
  • Thurston Hall (Mail Boxes)
  • Strong Hall (Lobby)
  • Shenkman Hall (1st Floor Elevators)
  • West Hall (Lower Level 1 Next to the iPrint Station & ATM)
  • Enterprise Hall (Ground Level)

For a list of acceptable items in our new program, please visit GW’s Guide to Electronics Recycling.


GW runs a pilot composting program in Pelham Commons at the Mount Vernon Campus and a Back of House composting program in District Hall. Current studies are underway to investigate the feasibility of bringing composting to other Foggy Bottom facilities.


Dining Vendors
Many of our GWorld vendors participate in GW’s back-of- house composting initiative. These include:
 Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy
 Starbucks at E Street and Gelman
 Uptowner Restaurant
 Carvings Restaurant
 All District House vendors

GroW Garden

The Grow Garden has been in operation since 2009, committed to engaging in home-grown food in an urban environment. The GroW Garden permits students to get involved through volunteering in the garden and also through their composting program, where they accept vegetable food scraps and egg shells. All students and staff can drop off items at their location on the corner of 24 th and H Street.

Pelham Commons Pilot Project

The West Hall dining hall, Pelham Commons, has run a composting program in their back-of- house since opening in 2010. In 2013, The Urban Food Task Force provided grants to cover the initial costs of a front-of-house composting program. Since then, Pelham Commons has offered a holistic, sustainable waste management system.

1959 E Street Pilot Project

Last year, one of Campaign GW’s Eco Reps began a pilot composting project in 1959 E Street residence hall. Students keep their compost bags in their freezers, disposing any food scraps in them throughout the week. At the end of the week, students leave these bags outside their doors and Eco Reps collect and compost the materials for them.

GW Biology Department Pilot Project

Under the direction of Professor Tara Scully, the GW Biology Department runs a pilot composting program in both of their offices – Bell Hall 302 and the Science and Engineering Hall 6100. Waste collected is used for soil in the department’s greenhouse atop Bell Hall.

Big Belly Solar

The university recently purchased 36 Big Belly Solar cans for use on campus. There are 18 recycling bins and 18 trash bins. These bins compact trash and recyclables and are powered by clean, solar power. By compacting our waste, the university reduces the number of pick-ups during the day, thus lowering our transportation footprint and labor time. The contained bins also ensure that trash does not overflow onto the streets which could attract rodents and wind up in the storm water system.


Green Move-Out

GW's Green Move-Out program is a highly successful waste reduction program held during the spring move-out period. Green Move-Out, a major university initiative, makes the residence hall move-out process more environmentally- and community-friendly through a multifaceted donation drive. During move-out, students drop items such as bedding and linens, cleaning supplies, food, clothing, and books in boxes in residence halls labeled with a Green Move-Out sticker. These items are then bagged and donated to local charity partners. This initiative is only made possible through the support of an unprecedented partnership of students, staff, faculty, and sponsors. To volunteer, staff can email Heidi Lynn at [email protected] and students can sign up here.

In spring 2014, Green Move-Out collected 35,000 pounds of clothing, shoes, and bedding. In addition, approximately 2,400 pounds of nonperishable food items, 2,950 pounds of books, and 500 pounds of cleaning supplies were also collected and diverted from disposal. Students also donated large household items— such as televisions, futons and numerous lamps, vacuum cleaners and shelving units.


Recyclemania is a competition among universities to determine which school can recycle the most during a two month period in the spring semester. Through Recyclemania, GW hopes to encourage greater recycling year round, by drawing attention to the importance of waste reduction on campus.