Best practices for signage and bins

Knowing where to put materials once you’re done with them can be confusing. Follow these guidelines to ensure that trash, recycling and compost bins are used correctly.


Using appropriate signage is a crucial way of communicating how to properly dispose of materials. Bins should be clearly labeled, additional signage posted nearby can provide more descriptive information about what (and what NOT) to place in each bin. 

When organizing events, consider posting additional signage for materials that are specific to that particular event (e.g. “recycle all glass bottles here”). If you are offering reusable options, be sure to direct visitors accordingly so that materials are returned to a central location rather than discarded. 


The pairing of bins—both interior and exterior—is crucial: for every trash bin, there should be a recycling bin next to it. If your area includes composting, be sure to have a composting receptacle in place as well. Bins should always be available and accessible. 
When planning events, if the resources are available, have volunteers/workers monitoring the bins to ensure waste is disposed of correctly and that bins do not overflow.
Place bins in intuitive locations, near to where waste is expected to be generated (e.g. compost bins near where people are likely to eat).
Ensure bins are readily available and large enough (or emptied often enough) to accommodate the expected amount and types of waste. Overflowing bins cause litter and contamination of non-trash streams.

When serving food, request composting receptacles by requesting a Routine Facilities Service Request at least a week in advance.  

Bin Type

The following bins are standard for public spaces or common areas in the interior of Yale owned and occupied buildings. Black is used to designate waste and green for single-stream recycling:

two waste bins side-by-side. The bin on the left is green and labeled "recycling". The bin on the right is black and labeled "trash only."

In spaces where the above bins may not fit, the below bins should be considered, and should feature approved labels:

three plastic waste bins side-by-side. The bin on the left is brown and labeled "Food waste and compostable ware." The center bin is green and labeled "single stream recycling." The bin on the right is black and labeled "trash only."

Standard deskside bins provide a larger container (for recycling paper) that has recycling information stamped onto it, with a smaller container inside it for non-food trash. All other materials generated should be placed in common area bins.

An under-desk recycling bin for mixed paper with a printed label of the allowed materials.

The table below outlines which materials should and should not be disposed of in the mixed paper bins:

Acceptable Not Acceptable
White paper Paper clips
Colored paper Hanging files
Glossy Paper Food Service paper
Newspaper Paper cups
Thin cardboard Copy paper wrappers
Paper bags  
Envelopes with windows  
Manila folders  

Sticky notes

Shredded paper  
Staples okay  

Blue bins are typically used for lab recycling.

 a blue plastic recycling bin next to a bin labeled "biohazard".

If your building needs bins, labels or signage, work with your Facilities Superintendent to obtain them. If your building is a leased space, contact University Properties at (203) 432-8300.

Standard exterior bins should be clearly labeled and located outside of Yale buildings.

 the bin on the left is black and labeled "trash only", the bin on the right is green and labeled with the recycling symbol.