Waste sorting at McGill: Follow our guide to know how to sort and dispose of your waste properly.

FAQ on waste management

Organic waste

Where can I dispose of my organic waste on McGill's campuses?

You can find sorting stations with organic waste streams in the following academic buildings on the downtown campus:     

  • 680 Sherbrooke
  • Arts
  • Brown
  • Chancellor Day Hall
  • Durocher 3465
  • Education
  • Elizabeth Wirth Music
  • Frank Dawson Adams
  • Ferrier
  • Gelber
  • Genome
  • James Administration
  • Leacock
  • LSC - Animal Centre
  • LSC - Cancer
  • LSC - Bellini
  • Ludmer
  • Martlet House
  • McConnell Engineering
  • McIntyre
  • McTavish 3610
  • Penfield 1085
  • Penfield 1086
  • Pulp and Paper
  • Redpath Library
  • Rutherford Physics
  • Trottier

You can find sorting stations with organic waste streams in the following academic buildings on the Macdonald campus:

  • Barton
  • Centennial Centre
  • Cine
  • Facilities Management
  • Macdonald-Stewart
  • Parasitology
  • Raymond
  • Technical Services

Organic waste disposal is also available in McGill’s dining halls. There are Eco Stations for organic waste located in Carrefour Sherbrooke, New Residence, Bishop Mountain Hall, Douglas Hall, and Royal Victoria College dining halls. Learn more about Food Services’ sustainability initiatives on their website.

Why is composting not available campus wide? When will it be available everywhere?

McGill’s long-term goal is to offer organic waste collection at buildings across its campuses—an important step in the journey to zero-waste by 2035.   

However, pilot locations must first demonstrate ongoing success. With continued education, we hope to see a shift in campus culture and awareness. Once contamination is consistently below the allowable threshold at pilot locations, we will be able to better advocate for campus-wide organic waste collection.   

How can I properly dispose of organic waste if compost isn't collected in my building on campus?

As organic waste collection expands, the University will continue to evaluate the location of bins on campus. Until then, please dispose of all organic waste in the closest building that does have a compost bin.   

What happens to compost generated at McGill?

Organic waste generated at McGill is either processed at the composting facility at Dépôt Rive-Nord or at a city compost site in the Southwest borough of Montréal.  

Some of the compost produced at the Dépôt Rive-Nord facility is redistributed to local municipalities--many of which use the compost for landscaping. In other municipalities, compost is sold or given away to citizens, or placed back on agricultural land.   

The remaining compost from the Dépôt Rive-Nord facility is used directly on the landfill at Dépôt Rive-Nord. After covering 40 meters of compacted garbage with clay, the facility places composted topsoil on the top and revegetates it.  

The majority of the compost processed by the city in the Southwest borough is redistributed to Montréal’s residents, community gardens, and neighborhoods through projects in urban agriculture and public works’ horticultural projects.  

What can I compost at McGill?

Any organic waste item can be composted on campus. That includes food leftovers, paper towel, tissue, certain plastics marked “compostable” or ‘#7 PLA’ or cardboard food containers. Please refer to the following list for additional guidance.  

Food waste Inorganic material
Napkins, tissue, and paper towels (must be free of cleaning products)  Hazardous household waste (i.e., paper towel soiled with chemical products)
Coffee cups marked as compostable  Disposable coffee cups which are not marked as compostable 
Soiled cardboard or paper (I.e., pizza boxes and paper plates)  Waxed or laminated plastic and cardboard (i.e., plastic-lined cardboard takeout containers)   
Tea bags, coffee grounds, and coffee filters  Liquids
Bamboo utensils  Plastic marked as compostable, biodegradable, BPI, and/or #7(PLA)
Parchment paper  Textiles 
BNQ-certified compostable bag Animal waste 
Flowers and house plants   

Why does hard plastic marked as compostable, biodegradable, #7(PLA), or BPI have to go in the landfill stream?

Hard plastic marked as compostable, biodegradable, #7(PLA), or BPI is not recyclable. It is also not accepted at compost facilities in Montreal because it can take up to 1000 years to decompose. Therefore, please empty the food scraps from the container into the compost, then place the plastic container in the landfill stream.

Electronic waste

I have electronic waste like batteries and old cell phones. Where should I dispose of these items?


McGill Hazardous Waste Management offers special battery collection bins in the lobbies of most major buildings on campus. Otherwise, batteries can be sent using internal mail service to ‘Recycling of materials, Hazardous Waste Management, McIntyre Medical Building, Room 129. You can find the list of battery bin locations here. 


An Electrobac bin has been installed in the lobby of 680 Sherbrooke W. for the use of all McGill students, faculty, and staff. An Electrobac bin is a recycling bin for small electronic devices. Following collection, the items are recycled or refurbished responsibly, following environmental best practices. To use this service, simply leave your devices in the bin. Electrobac, a non-profit Canadian organization, provides additional information about its mission and practices on its website.

Old cellphones can also be dropped off or mailed to any Bell World, Espace Bell or Bell Mobility store, where they will be refurbished and donated to women’s shelters.

What can I put in the Electrobac bin installed in the lobby of 680 Sherbrooke?

Electrobac bin

For a comprehensive list, see 80 Electronics to be recycled in an Electrobac

  • Small electronics (e.g., phones, iPods, tablets, cameras)
  • Peripherals (e.g., USB keys, cables, keyboards, headphones)
  • Ink cartridges

Refused materials:

What will happen to the data on a device?

When you recycle a device in an Electrobac bin, the data in your device is safe! All your data will be permanently destroyed or erased. For details, visit Electrobac’s FAQ page.

Why is it important to recycle electronics responsibly?

Used electronics are not trash: They contain materials, such as plastic and metal, that can be reclaimed and reintroduced into the manufacturing supply chain to produce new products. Many older electronics contain substances that, if not properly handled, could have a negative impact on the environment.

Once collected, the devices in the Electrobac bin are assessed to determine whether they will be refurbished, or if their materials will be recycled.


Do I put paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum cans in the same recycling bin?

Unlike the single-bin system you probably have at home, paper should not go into the same bin as plastic, glass and aluminum on the McGill campus. McGill separates their recycling into two streams - there is one bin for paper and cardboard and a second bin for plastic, metal and glass. This ensures that any food or drinks left on recycled containers do not contaminate clean paper, making it unrecyclable.

The recycling in my building is not being disposed of properly. Who should I call?

If your waste is not being properly recycled, you should contact your building porter (see Porter Services section of this page for contact info to reach your porter). If your building has no porter, your district supervisor will be able to help you.


Can I get deskside bins for my unit/department?

First, ask yourself if you really need a deskside bin! The University does not encourage additional deskside bins as research shows that the use of centralized waste stations is better for decreasing waste stream contamination. The reduction in the overall number of bins also enables safer occupational health for custodial teams who need to bend less frequently to collect material from deskside bins. 

If you determine that a deskside bin is absolutely required, your requests must be sent to the stockroom attendant who will provide you with a quote. A valid FOAPAL must be provided. Please note that only deskside recycling or landfill waste bins may be provided.

What can I do to reduce waste at McGill

There are many ways to reduce waste at McGill. As an individual, you can bring reusable containers, mugs, and water bottles with you to avoid purchasing food and beverages in single-use packages. If you work at McGill, consider going through the Sustainable Workplace Certification process, which will challenge you and your team to reduce your waste and improve your overall sustainability. If you work in a wet lab, you can also check out the Sustainable Labs Guide. Lastly, you can host more sustainable events by working with the Sustainable Events consultants. They will walk you through several measures you can take to make your events more environmentally friendly, accessible and inclusive.

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