Recycling and composting

Compost in training sign

Earlham provides single-stream recycling in all buildings on campus as well as collection of pre-consumer organic wastes from food services operations on campus and compostable material from college-owned houses.


Recycle infographic

Recycling is an important aspect of waste reduction, and is a celebrated practice at Earlham. Our recycling program is jointly managed by the Facilities Department, Housekeeping Services, and the Sustainability Office. Earlham is a single stream, co-mingled recycling site.

Waste management in Earlham’s college-owned houses is managed by the City of Richmond. Each house has a green waste bin and a blue recycling bin. Trash is collected every Thursday and recycling is collected the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. The City of Richmond recycles the following:

  • Glass bottles & jars
  • #1 & #2 plastics
  • Steel and bi-metal cans
  • Aluminum cans

In Earlham’s recycling bins

We will accept

  • plastics with numbers 1 or 2 (number is usually on the bottom of a plastic container inside the recycling symbol)
  • glass
  • steel, tin, aluminum or bi-metal cans or containers
  • any color, weight, or texture of paper
  • paperboard (cereal boxes etc.)
  • telephone books, magazines, catalogs
  • newspaper
  • corrugated cardboard

We CANNOT accept

  • greasy cardboard from pizza boxes
  • plastic bags or film
  • styrofoam
  • food wrappers

Cardboard or paper products

If house members want to recycle cardboard or other paper products, they can be taken to Earlham’s recycling dumpster behind the Facilities Office or any recycling bin on campus.

Battery products

There are several small silver battery recycling bins on campus to recycle your batteries:

  • The Athletics and Wellness Center
  • Carpenter Hall near the large recycling bin
  • Center for Science and Technology lobby
  • Landrum Bolling Center near vending machines
  • Stanley Hall room 253
  • Lilly Library
  • Dennis Hall first floor
  • Public Safety
  • ESR Main Building
  • ESR Barclay Center


Recycle infographic

What can I compost?

There should be signage with each collection container, but these are some general rules. Please contact [email protected] if there is missing signage that we should know about!


  • All fruits and vegetables
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Cooked food (no meat or dairy)
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Egg shells
  • Any plant matter
  • Grains/bread
  • Tea bags
  • Corrugated cardboard (torn up)

NOT compostable

  • Meats
  • Dairy
  • Paper coated in anything artificial (aluminum, wax, etc.)
  • Disposable coffee cups, or their lids
  • Greasy or oily foods (like French fries)

The Earlham College Compost Program is managed by the Center for Environmental Leadership and Metz Culinary Management and staffed by the Student Sustainability Corps.

Compost collection locations

Dining hall

  • Pre-consumer compostable are collected by kitchen staff.
  • Post-consumer compost (stuff left on your plates) is also collected in the dining hall. Please look for signs and follow guidelines about what to put in the compost collection as you put away your plates after meals.

Rose City Coffee Co-op

For used coffee grounds

Residence hall kitchens

There is a compost bucket available in each kitchen. Please look for signs and follow guidelines about what to put in the bucket.

College housing and apartments

  • Members of the SSC will contact each house/apartment at the beginning of fall semester to ask you to opt into the composting program. You will be provided a bucket and signage with guidelines about what to compost, along with information about the collection schedule.
  • Some tips for you:
    • Keep your main bucket outside, so it doesn’t attract bugs into your house.
    • Keep a smaller bucket, like a Tupperware, inside to make composting convenient.
    • In the winter (any time it is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit) make sure to bring your compost bucket in the night before collection to thaw. We can’t empty frozen compost.
    • Rinse your compost bucket once a week (we recommend the day it is emptied).
    • Avoid putting liquids into your compost bucket. Liquid foods like watermelon are fine, but try not to pour straight liquids into the bucket because liquids are harder to handle.

Academic building kitchenettes

Compost buckets are available in kitchenettes in academic buildings by request. Please look for signs and follow guidelines about what to put in the bucket.

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.