Nora Knox

For most of us, recycling is second nature, and when given the opportunity, we choose to put our paper products, cans or bottles, in the recycling bin. But recycling can occasionally become a burden, when we have items that we're not sure about or when there's not a recycling stream available.

One reason that recycling can be a challenge is the lack of a uniform process across private and public spaces, cities, states and even countries. The process is different depending on where you live or work, and which waste/recycling service provider your building employs.

At USGBC headquarters, we're making an effort to reduce those questionable moments, and take the guesswork out of recycling. Learn about solid waste management requirements in LEED.

Education and signage

We believe that education makes all the difference, and signage is key. So in our office kitchen and café areas you can find signage with photos at all of our trash/recycling/compost bins. We also have plans to implement additional signage for waste bins within our meeting spaces in the fall.

What's ok to recycle?

Here's a quick refresh on what you can and can't recycle.


  • Plastics #1-7; includes plastic cups, coffee lids, bottles, yogurt containers, clamshell containers (for salads and sandwiches)
  • Metal cans and metal bottle caps
  • Glass; includes jars and bottles
  • Paper; includes receipts, file folders, white and colored paper, brochures, soft cover books, post-it notes, paper food packaging, fedex boxes and newspaper (if it tears, you have a green light)
  • Cardboard; make sure to break it down and flatten it

Additional recycling opportunities in the USGBC headquarters

  • Batteries; collected for recycling in our copy/work rooms
  • Toner cartridges, laptop batteries, keyboards, mice, cables/wire, CDs and DVDs, printers, and cell phones; collected by our IT team for recycling in partnership with property management and the building’s eCycling program. (Do you know if you're building is eCycling? Check out these resources from the EPA.)
  • Lighting system electrical parts; collected for recycling by our waste service provider 


  • Soiled paper items go in the compost bin; includes paper napkins, paper towels and tissues
  • Wood coffee stirrers go in the compost bin
  • Plastic wrap, bags, candy wrappers, straws and bottle tops go in the landfill bin
  • Paper insulated coffee cups go in the landfill bin

Last minute tips

  • Wash out your plastic containers before tossing them in the recycling stream.
  • Picking up a coffee on the way into the office? Have your barista put it in a reusable cup or mug.

Want to learn more about our sustainability efforts around the office? Read about how we compost at USGBC.

Have any thoughts or questions? Email Melanie, our manager of facilities.