Initiatives & Resources

Waste & Recycling

Single Stream Recycling Program: This means all recyclables (paper, glass, plastic, metal, and cardboard) can be placed into one bin. The college has financial and environmental incentives to divert recyclables from the waste stream. We pay $80 per ton of waste produced, while disposal of recycled material is $55. Each year we typically produce 800 tons of garbage which is sent to a landfill 

Frequently Asked Recycling Questions:

Are paper cups recyclable?
No. Although these cups are made out of paper, they are coated with a thin layer of plastic, which does not allow them to be recycled. The plastic material on the coffee cups contaminates the load at the paper mill.

How clean must containers be before they are placed into a recycling bin?
Please empty the liquid or food waste out of the container before it is placed into the recycling bin.

Are pizza boxes recyclable?
Yes. Please remove any chunks of food and wax paper from the pizza boxes before they are placed into the recycling bin.

Are plastic caps recyclable? 
Yes. If the plastic caps are attached to the bottle, they are recyclable. If the caps are removed from the bottle, they cannot be recycled because they are too small and will fall through the conveyor belt at the recycling facility.

Are plastic bags recyclable?
No. Although some businesses collect plastic bags, the recycling company does not accept this product. Use reusable bags at the store!

Are plastic wrappers recyclable (ex: candy wrappers, chip bags, plastic wrap, etc.)?
No. SUNY Oneonta does not recycle “soft” plastics. SUNY Oneonta does recycle hard plastics (#1-7).

Are plastic utensils recyclable?
No. These items are not recyclable because of the size. They drop through the conveyor system at the recycling facility.

Are paper spiral notebooks recyclable?
Yes. Please remove the metal spiral from the notebook before it is placed into the recycling bin. The sorting process is not able to remove the metal from the paper.

Can confidential papers be placed into the recycling bins?
Yes. They should be shredded and put into plastic bags.

Do I have to break down the cardboard before putting it into the recycling bin?
Yes. Please break down the cardboard before placing it into the recycling bin. 

Where do I recycle electronics (computers, phones, printers, etc.)?
Personal electronics can be recycled at the Electronic Recycling Station at Hunt Union. State-owned electronics can be recycled by contacting

How do I recycle light bulbs?
The custodial staff in each building collects and recycles the light bulbs.

Where does our trash and recycling go?
The trash is brought to Stanley, NY which is three hours away from Oneonta. The recyclables are brought to Apalachin, NY, which is one hour away from Oneonta.

Who do I contact if I need a recycling bin?
Please contact Sustainability Coordinator Rachel Kornhauser.


College Camp: Located at 119 Hoffman Road about two miles from campus, College Camp is s a cooperative venture of the Student Association, SUNY Oneonta, and Oneonta Auxiliary Services. It encompasses more than 270 acres of former farm and woodland used for educational, recreational and social opportunities for the members of our college community.

Biological Field Station: The college owns 2,600 acres of woodlands, bogs, marshes, and ponds on the edge of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, NY. The Biological Field Station facilities are used for student and faculty research projects.

Dining Services

Trayless- Trays are no longer available in the dining halls. This has reduced food waste by 15% and reduced water consumption by 250,000 gallons per semester.

Local Food- Oneonta Auxiliary Services (OAS) and Sodexo are strong believers in supporting the local economy. Approximately 6% of the food in the dining halls is sourced from local vendors. Each week, Wilsbach Hall prepares a “Pride of New York” meal.

Reusable Containers- At the beginning of each school year, all students are given reusable containers.

Sustainable Sources- Aspretto coffee served in the dining hall is fair trade-sourced.

Discount- OAS gives a 10-cent discount to anyone who purchases coffee using a reusable mug at its retail facilities.

Recycling- OAS has purchased more than 100 recycling bins for campus which are located in academic buildings, laundry rooms, and public spaces.

Waste Reduction- OAS has replaced condiment bottles and plastic containers in the dining halls with bulk condiment dispensers, reducing the waste from over 900 ketchup bottles per week. In addition, OAS replaced napkin baskets with napkin dispensers, decreasing napkin waste by 40%.

Composting- A senior at SUNY Oneonta was awarded a grant to build an innovative system called O2 Composting. The aerated static pile composting system was developed in Snohomish, Washington, and uses an electric blower to introduce airflow throughout the pile. The method is considered “composting on steroids” because it breaks down the food waste and produces finished compost within four months. A typical backyard compost pile creates a humus-rich compost product within 12 months. Each bin will produce one ton of compost every four months. The system is located on the southeast corner of Wilsbach Hall.

Feeding Animals- Hulbert Hall donates pre- and post-consumer food waste to a local pig farm.

Food Waste Reduction- Sodexo uses a food-waste reduction program called Lean Path. This program is expected to help the college reduce pre-consumer food waste by 3-5%.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher challenged state agencies, including the SUNY system, to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 20-30% by 2020. At SUNY Oneonta, we take this challenge seriously and are working toward this reduction through measurable initiatives. In a recent study that compared the energy consumption of 16 campuses in the Northeast, SUNY Oneonta had the 4th lowest BTU/square foot at 91,655. The college has a high-efficiency performance due to various initiatives, such as switching to more efficient lighting, scheduling heating and HVAC operations to match the occupancy of rooms, installing boiler economizers and enforcing temperature set points. Other initiatives include:

  • Biofuel-Oneonta Auxiliary Service (OAS) utilizes vegetable oil from the dining halls to heat College Camp. This diverts 800-900 gallons of used oil from the landfill each year and saves OAS $10,000 per year on fuel oil costs.
  • Green Vending Machine- OAS provides the college with a “GreenVend” option. This Energy Star vending machine uses LED lights, which consume 40% less energy than standard bulbs, and provides customers with organic and gluten-free options.
  • Lighting- The college is experimenting with LED bulbs on campus and is upgrading exterior lighting to compact fluorescent lights at approximately 15% per year. Three buildings on campus utilize motion sensors in lighting applications.
  • Efficiency- The Facilities Department works daily to improve building envelopes and thermal performance by replacing windows and roofs across campus.


  • Computer Donation- In 2012, the college donated 100 computers to schools around Central New York through the New York State Computer Recycling for Education and Technology Enhancement program.
  • Environmental Impact Report- The IT Department is assessing the total environmental impact of IT Services on campus. This includes the energy consumed by computer labs, data centers, and individual users. 
  • Computer Shut Down Policy- During the week, the college shuts down all computers at 10 p.m. During the weekend, the college shuts down all computers at 9 p.m. 
  • Print Quota- Students at SUNY Oneonta are encouraged to use less paper and are given a 500-page print quota per semester.


  • Minimal Irrigation- The college values fresh water resources and irrigates only 0.8% of campus grounds. The soccer and baseball field are the only areas that are irrigated.  
  • Leaf Litter- All leaf litter is mulched and left on the college property.
  • Tree Planting- For every tree cut down during a construction project, the college plants two more around campus.
  • Community Garden- Oneonta Auxiliary Services allows faculty, staff, and students to garden on plots at College Camp.


  • Tobey and Wilber Hall: These buildings are Energy Star buildings and use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings across the nation.
  • Limited Air Conditioning: Located in the Northeast region, the college is surrounded by a fairly comfortable climate during the summer months.  To reduce environmental and fiscal costs, the college limits air conditioning to 17% of the campus.
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED): At SUNY Oneonta, 17% of campus is built in accordance to LEED Silver Certification Standards.
  • Innovation: Located on Moe Pond, the ornithology building has a composting toilet and utilizes grey water for the system.


  • Recycled Paper- As specified by Executive Order 4, the college purchases 100% post-consumer recycled office and janitorial paper.
  • Energy Star Rated Equipment- As specified by Executive Order 111, the college purchases equipment and appliances that are Energy Star rated.
  • Green Cleaning Products- As specified by Executive Order 134, the college purchases cleaning products that minimize negative impacts to health and the environment. The Custodial Department has spearheaded the initiative by utilizing almost 100% green cleaning products.



Water conservation efforts have been driven by the Facilities Department. From 2005 to 2010, the college's water usage was reduced by 12.5 million gallons. Specific projects include:

  • Low-Flow Appliances- The Facilities Department is dedicated to installing low-flow appliances in building renovation projects.
  • Water Leaks- Twice a year, the Facilities Department does preventative maintenance on campus to check for underground water leaks.
  • Washing Machines- Oneonta Auxiliary Services installed front-loading washing machines in the residence halls which saves one million gallons of water annually.
  • Water Bottle Filling Stations- The college has over five water bottle filling stations on campus. This promotes the use of reusable water bottles and reduces the amount of waste produced at the college.
  • Rain Gardens- The campus recently constructed a rain garden in the Alumni Fieldhouse parking lot.

Student Groups

  • SUNY Oneonta has four active student environmental groups: The Student Sustainability Committee, Environmental Activism Club, and Environmental Science Club, and FORCES

Future Initiatives

  • Fitzelle Hall- This building will have an energy performance which is expected to exceed the NYS Energy Conservation Construction Code by 20.7%
    • Sustainable design features:
      • Upgraded roof and wall insulation
      • High- efficiency lighting
      • Occupancy sensors
      • Premium efficiency motors
      • Variable speed pumping
      • Variable speed fan drives
      • Discriminator controls
      • Demand control ventilation
      • Variable speed chiller compressor
      • Condensing boilers
      • Run around heat recovery loop
      • Use of recycled materials
      • Low-flow water fixtures
      • Construction waste management
      • Building re-use and regional materials use
      • Low emitting interior materials.
  • Milne Library- The third floor of Milne library was renovated beginning in summer 2014. Currently, the energy performance of the third floor is 20,700 BTU/HR. After the renovations, the energy consumption will be reduced to 4,100 BTU/HR.
  • Hydration Stations- In the next two years, three more water bottle re-fill stations will be installed in Hunt Union, Alumni Hall, and Morris.
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