New Search Tool Boosts Recycling & Composting Confidence at UT

"What Do I Do With This" Sorting Database logo

As the university rolls out more programs to keep waste out of the landfill – part of UT’s Zero Waste Goal – placing materials in the right bin on campus can be tricky. Hands-on waste audits led by Resource Recovery student interns in 2019 determined that nearly one-third of the items put in the recycling bin don’t actually belong there, a term frequently referred to as “contamination.”

To help reduce confusion over what goes in each bin, Resource Recovery, Office of Sustainability, University Unions, and University Housing and Dining have collaborated on a Green Fund grant to create the “What Do I Do With This?” Zero Waste Sorting Database. Combined with new waste bin signage that will debut later this year, we want Longhorns to feel informed and confident about recycling and composting on campus.

This mobile-friendly tool is an interactive guide for reusing, recycling, composting, and more! It’s easy to use: simply type the name of the item and receive campus-specific guidance, including if items must be sent to Environmental Health & Safety or Surplus Property. Resource Recovery intern Roscelia Roman shares that she “thought it was pretty cool! I like that you can search a general item and then it becomes specific.” The database is ever-expanding, so if you don’t see an item or are looking for further clarification, contact the Resource Recovery team at For more information about us and our events, visit the Zero Waste Program website or follow us on the Resource Recovery Facebook page.

This story was written by Morgan Laner, Zero Waste Program Coordinator in Facilities Services