Transparent bags are for recycling

Author: Donnetta McClellan, Office of Sustainability

Web2 Clear Trash Bag Pile

Web Clear Recycling Bag

Recent modifications in the global recycling market have forced waste haulers — including those who service the University — to implement stricter standards on the type and condition of acceptable recyclables. For the University to continue to recover as many clean items to be recycled as possible, the bags used to collect recyclables are now see-through and trash bags are black. (Please note: Some existing inventory of blue bags may be used on occasion to capture trash. Transparent bags always signify recycling.)

Transparent bags allow those who collect waste on campus to easily identify whether the contents are clean and recyclable. If the recycling bag contains something that would contaminate other items, like a half-eaten sandwich, the bag becomes trash. Better detection of contamination allows the University to increase the overall amount of clean recycling.

Outdoors, dumpsters with yellow lids indicate where transparent recycling bags go, and dumpsters with black lids designate where the black trash bags are placed.

Faculty and staff can help the University improve its recycling rate. Before tossing an item into the recycling bin, make sure it is truly recyclable and free of food and liquid. Dirty or non recyclable items should be placed in the trash in order to keep recycling clean and recoverable.

“While the best option is to avoid using any type of disposable item, we’re grateful to you for doing your part to keep recyclables out of the landfill,” says Carol Mullaney, senior director of sustainability and logistics. 

Anyone who notices an incorrect bag color may send a note to And, when in doubt, throw it out! For more information on recycling, visit

Originally published by Donnetta McClellan, Office of Sustainability at on August 08, 2019.