Frequently Asked Questions

I love my Planet Blue water bottle but unfortunately I lost it. Can I get another one?

If extra water bottles are available, OCS is happy to provide one. We ask that in order to receive a replacement bottle you take the time to complete the Planet Blue Ambassador training. If you are already a Planet Blue Ambassador, please email planetblue@umich.edu.

How can I recycle ______________?

Look up specific items on our Recyclable Materials page. If you have further questions, email recycle@umich.edu.

How can I get a recycling/landfill bin for my office?

Bin requests should be sent to recycle@umich.edu. Please let us know the type of bin you want (landfill or recycling) and where specifically it should be delivered.

I'm in an off-site facility and our location does not have recycling/composting. How can we get it?

Recycling and composting options vary by location. Please email recycle@umich.edu with your specific location information.

Why can’t I recycle glass on campus?

Unfortunately, the university’s recycling facility partner, Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority, no longer accepts glass for recycling. The market for glass is very poor, with no manufacturer who wants to purchase old glass to make something new. This is why it is so important for all of us to purchase items that contain recycled content. When people buy recycled-content items, there is an incentive for companies to use recycled content in their products. As the demand for recycled content increases, recycling facilities are able to not only sell the material they collect, but can often also make enough money to reduce what customers (like U-M) have to pay for the recycling service.

Do you provide service and materials to student zero waste events off-campus?

We typically cannot provide compost collection service to off-site locations. However, we are happy to work with groups to reduce the waste associated with their event in other ways. In some instances, if the event is close to campus, we can provide compostable bag liners so that the hosting group may take collected material to a nearby existing compost collection cart.

How do I get a compost bin for our break room/kitchen?

Compost bins are available for staff kitchens that have committed to stocking only reusable or compostable items, and have participated in a staff training. The Office of Campus Sustainability can work with U-M Waste Management to provide compost service to university-owned buildings on the Ann Arbor campus. Email zerowaste@umich.edu to make arrangements.

How do I get my shredding bin emptied? Or, I need a shredding bin delivered to my office. When can you bring one?

The university does not provide shredding services. Please contact your department head or facility manager to find out who your shredding provider is in order to request service.

How can I get a tour of the recycling facility?

Since the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority’s recycling facility isn’t designed for tours, these can be hard to schedule. If you are interested in scheduling a tour for a class, please email recycle@umich.edu at least 4 weeks in advance of your requested date.

How do I get a water bottle refill station installed in my building?

A list of water refill stations can be found on the sustainability map (water icon on top row) or in this spreadsheet. After communicating with the facility manager for your building or department, refer to Bottle Filling Station Guidelines (under Projects and Initiatives) for further direction.

Our lab would like to participate in the pipet tip box recycling program. Where can I find empty shipping boxes?

Empty shipping boxes are located at your loading dock. They come with pre-addressed postage-paid labels, so there is no cost to you. When you have filled a box with empty pipet tip boxes, seal and take it to your UPS pick-up station. For more information, contact sustainable-labs@umich.edu.

We would like to switch to Gel Red in place of toxic Ethidium Bromide. How can you help us?

Excellent choice! Gel Red is a safer product for your DNA and RNA gel work. Solid waste can go into trash and liquid waste can go down the drain. OCS can provide a free sample for you to try. If you’re satisfied with the results, you can purchase Gel Red at a discounted price of $70 per 500 uL vial through M-Market from VWR. For more information, contact sustainable-labs@umich.edu.

I have some broken lab equipment that I would like to recycle. How can I do this?

Email Sustainable-Labs@umich.edu about broken equipment. If you have usable equipment, chemicals, or other lab materials that you no longer need, considering donating them to the ChEM Reuse Program.

I need to dispose of an item that might be hazardous waste. What do I do?

All chemical, radioactive, biological, and universal waste (batteries, light bulbs, ballasts, and e-waste) must be collected by EHS Hazmat. Call (734)-763-4568 for assistance.

When is U-M going to have an e-waste recycling event?

U-M does not have plans to host another e-waste recycling event. Regional partners such as cities and townships provide e-waste recycling throughout the year. We will post information at sustainability.umich.edu/ewaste.

Why don’t we have LED lamps in every building throughout campus?

We are currently working to upgrade lighting systems across campus. For many years, we felt that the technology in LED products on the market was not sufficient for our needs. Longevity, compatibility, and consistency were our largest concerns. The industry has developed and we now feel confident in the available lighting solutions. Now the challenge is to prioritize the buildings. The cost of installing LEDs across campus is high and our regular project budget will not allow us to do this changeover quickly.

Which is the more sustainable option for drying hands in restrooms: paper towels or electric hand dryers?

Based on life cycle analysis, electric hand dryers have lower carbon dioxide emissions (and lower cost) than paper towel dispensers. At U-M, the decision to install hand dryers or paper towel dispensers should take into account the type of building occupancy and function, the preference of the building management, input from Custodial Services and Maintenance perspectives, and the associated costs and environmental impact. If installing a paper towel dispenser, a controlled-release dispenser is more sustainable than multi-fold towels or towels dispensed by user-controlled lever.

I’m interested in sustainability. How can I get involved?

Thanks for your interest! Check out Planet Blue’s Get Involved page for opportunities ranging from student groups to workplace initiatives to becoming a Planet Blue Ambassador. Let us know if you have further questions.