Recycling and Composting

Student committed to recycling.

At Luther we take our commitments to waste reduction seriously. We do what we can to reduce and reuse before making our way to the third “r” (recycling). Centralized waste infrastructure is located all across campus to make it easy to responsibly dispose of waste.

Waste Infrastructure

  • Personal Blue Bins: Every office and residence hall room on campus is equipped with a blue bin for ease of collecting recyclable items. Custodial staff will empty and sort recyclables from offices. Students are responsible for taking recycling from their rooms to the roll-off bins located outside of each residence hall.
  • Four-Stream Bins: Four-stream bins are centrally located in all major buildings on campus. The four compartments - compost, landfill, plastic/metal and paper -  contained in these bins are intended to capture the majority of items used every day on campus.
  • Recycling Roll-Offs: Large recycling roll-offs are located next to every residence hall, the Union, Facilities and the Regents Center. These serve as drop off points for paper, cardboard and plastic/metal recycling recycling generated across campus. Materials are taken to the Winneshiek County Recycling Center.

Common Recycling Streams

  • Paper
    • Accepted: Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, office paper, egg cartons, kraft paper, phone books, junk mail, brown paper bags, feed sacks, books and shredded paper. Please deliver hard cover books to the bins in the basement of Olin Hall or directly out to the recycling center as they need to be processed separately from all other forms of paper.
    • Not Accepted: Paper towels, paper plates or paper cups, toilet paper, wall paper, waxed paper, Christmas wrap and stickers.
  • Plastics and Metals
    • Accepted Plastics: Items stamped with #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, or #7 such as milk jugs, soap bottles, butter tubs, yogurt cups, buckets, pop and water bottles.
    • Accepted Metals: Tin cans, pop cans, aluminum foil, frying pans, cookie sheets, license plates, stainless steel kitchen items, cast iron skillets, brass items, bikes, electrical cords, electric motors and wall chargers.
    • Not Accepted Plastics: Styrofoam, plastic bags, toys, vinyl siding, PVC pipe, plastic feed sacks, films, rubber, carpet, foam, silage bags, Tyvek, field tile, or motor oil bottles.
    • Not Accepted Metals: Nails, screws, microwaves, TVs, computers, electronics, or major appliances.
  • Cardboard
    • Accepted: Basic corrugated boxes or sheets, cereal boxes, pizza boxes (please remove pizza first!), shoe boxes, or similar containers. Please remove all styrofoam, plastic bags, and any other packaging. Staples, tape and labels are OK to leave on.
    • Not Accepted: Milk or juice cartons, plastic or wax coated boxes or any cardboard contaminated with oil
  • *Glass is not collected at Luther but clear, non-redeemable food container glass is collected at the Winneshiek County Recycling Center. Redeemable glass items can be redeemed at Walmart or donated to the Spectrum Network Thrift Store.*

Compost and Food Waste

Food waste is one of the most important things to divert from the landfill so Luther provides abundant opportunities for composting. Please note that compost collection ceases during all major breaks and summer. Keep an eye out for compost bins in the following locations:

  • Academic Buildings: Compost is collected as part of the four-stream bins located all across campus. Many faculty and staff use a personal composting bin in their office and then empty into a common bin.
  • Dining Services: Compost is collected in all major dining locations. In the cafeteria, food scraps should be left on your plate so they can be run through the pulper in the dish room.
  • Res Halls: Compost buckets are generally located in the kitchen and if your building has more than one kitchen, the compost bucket will be on the lowest level kitchen. See below for exact locations in each hall. For ease of collecting your own personal compost, use a yogurt container or something else with a lid. Containers are available in the Valders 374 office suite.
  • Miller Hall: Ground floor kitchen - White 10-gallon bucket
  • Dieseth Hall: Ground floor kitchen - White 10-gallon bucket
  • Baker Village: Between blue recycling roll-offs - White 10-gallon bucket
  • College Apartments: Near blue recycling cans - White 10-gallon bucket
  • Sustainability House: Outside kitchen door - Kitty litter bucket
  • Prairie House (Spring): Through the back door on the back porch - Kitty litter bucket
  • Prairie House (Rock): Down the driveway in front of the garage - Kitty litter bucket
  • Prairie House (Jefferson): Back porch - Kitty litter bucket
  • Brandt Hall: Social lounge kitchen - White 10-gallon bucket
  • Larson Hall: Ground floor kitchen - White 10-gallon bucket
  • Olson Hall: Kitchen - White 10-gallon bucket
  • Farwell Hall: Next to the recycling station on the first floor - White 10-gallon bucket
  • Ylvisaker Hall: Basement kitchen - White 10-gallon bucket

Wondering what you can compost?

  • Accepted: All food scraps including fruit and vegetable scraps, grains, meat scraps, eggs, cheese, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, paper napkins, brown paper towels.
  • Not Accepted: Coffee cups, “compostable” containers, wax paper, plastic silverware, chewing gum. Note: To-go containers, plates, and coffee cups that say “compostable” on them are not compatible with current composting operations at Luther.

 Additional Recycling Streams

  • Plastic Film (Soft Plastic): Plastic film is collected in almost every building on campus including Valders, Farwell, Baker Village Commons, Library, Olin, Union, Storre Theatre, Main, CFA, Towers, Brandt, Ylvi, Olson, Larsen, Dieseth and Miller
    • Accepted: Grocery bags, bread bags, case overwrap, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, ice bags, wood pellet bags, ziplock and other re-sealable bags, produce bags, bubble wrap, salt bags, and cereal bags. All materials must be clean, dry and free of food residue.
    • Not Accepted: Chip bags, black trash bags, materials that are dirty or wet
  • Cell Phones and Rechargeable Batteries: The Winneshiek County Solid Waste Agency will not accept rechargeable batteries and cellular telephones in the Winneshiek County Sanitary Landfill. Boxes are conveniently located at the Help Desk, Facilities Services and the Office Supply Reuse Closet (Valders 364) to collect these items. Batteries and cell phones are sent to Call2Recycle, a company that promotes environmental sustainability by providing free battery and cell phone recycling in North America.
    • Accepted items: Rechargeable batteries each weighing less than 11lbs, cell phones (and their batteries) regardless of size, make, model or age
    • Not Accepted: Alkaline batteries go into the trash.
  • Computers and Electronics: Call the Technology Help Desk to recycle or reuse Luther-owned computers and other electronic equipment that you no longer need.
  • Printer Cartridges: Printer cartridges can be recycled in the Document Center.
  • Packing Peanuts: Packing peanuts and other packaging materials are collected in the hallway in Sampson Hoffland leading to the loading dock. These materials are then brought to local businesses that are able to reuse them.
  • Books: The Library Circulation Desk collects books that are then reused, resold or recycled. Many books are sold at the annual library book sale. Hardcover and softcover book recycling is also available in the basement of Olin.
  • Office Supplies: Notebooks, folders, binders, staplers, file organizers, pens, pencils, markers, clipboards and any other office supplies you no longer want/need can be brought to the Office Supply Reuse Closet in Valders 364. Please neatly place things on the shelves and in drawers when you bring them over and feel free to take anything that you see in there that you want.
  • Household Items and Clothes: Cleaning out your closets? Consider donating to the Depot Outlet or Spectrum Network Thrift Store. Both are located in Decorah and are great community organizations worth supporting with your donations. Before buying new, check to see if these stores might have what you need.