Waste and recycling

Waste and recycling

At RMIT we are committed to improving sustainability and reducing our waste footprint is a key aspect of this commitment.

We promote the waste hierarchy of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ to minimise our impact on the environment. Too often we focus on only recycling our waste, without firstly considering if we can eliminate the waste or limit the amount of waste produced by reusing items.

Here are some things as part of the RMIT community you can do to help reduce waste:

  • Bring your own reusable coffee cup, drink bottle or lunch container and ask our retailer to use them, rather than single-use items.
  • Fill up your own drink bottle, rather than buying water in plastic bottles. Not only is this great for the environment, but cheaper too. There are a number of refill points across the campus.
  • Think before you print, do you actually need to print the material, or can you go paperless?  Always check the settings prior to sending to the printer to avoid wastage. Go double-sided.
  • Actively refuse plastic bags, bring your own reusable bag along instead. Soft plastics are hard to recycle and can end up in our oceans.
  • Think about how you can influence your coursework to reduce waste; work with your lecturers to look at reducing or reusing materials.  
  • Know your waste streams and segregate your wastes appropriately. Use your knowledge to educate others to reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • Let us know if you don’t have the standards three bin system in your office - email propserv.service.desk@rmit.edu.au

Primary waste streams

Standard bin system

RMIT has rolled out a standard three bin system across all campuses within staff office areas, and some general areas. This includes removal of under-desk bins and replacement with a multi-bin system that supports the primary waste streams. Comprising of one set per 20-30 desks; the system is being rolled out to other office areas through a planned rollout with our cleaners and refurbishment projects. The convenient, centralised locations promote recycling, moving away from landfill-only under-desk bins. Much of what we throw away can be re-used or recycled, and centralised stations support these behaviours. As well as being good for the environment, getting up from your desk to break up prolonged sitting has the added benefit of being great for your health

RMIT's three bin system

What can I recycle?

We support the recycling of all materials, and landfill should be only treated as a last resort.  However, due to the operational constraints at RMIT, we can’t often provide a collection service for unique recyclable waste streams. Instead, we use our resources to focus on improving our landfill diversion rates for our high-volume, primary waste streams.  Individually, portfolios and colleges can implement initiatives to reduce their waste footprint.  As a Sustainability Team we are happy to provide advice on how they might be able to reduce their footprint.

We have also compiled a list below of ways to recycle materials common to the University.

Most of our computers at RMIT are leased and are returned to our supplier at end-of-life for responsible disposal.  However, there still exists a certain amount of ad-hoc e-waste across the university.  Currently we do not have a dedicated e-waste collection service; however this is something we are investigating.  To responsible dispose of e-waste, there are a few options depending on the type of e-waste and volume. 

You can find further information about how to responsibly dispose of e-waste on the City of Melbourne waste website

You can organise the collection of printer cartridges through Ricoh via this online form.

You can order a Battery Bucket for your area through the Property Services, Service Desk. The cost per bucket, which includes supply of bucket, costs of recycling and certification on empty is $148.00 ex. GST which is chargable on the supply of the bucket.

If you are doing an office clean-out, order a collection service through the Green Collect. Green Collect provides boxes/ cages that can be filled with e-waste, stationary, and redundant office items.  Green Collect will then come and pick them up from you. Items are carefully sorted for the best environmental outcome.

We are working with our retailers who produce high volumes of organic waste to offer an organics collection service.  Some retailers, such as Boost Juice, are piloting an organic collection service provided by RMIT.  We are hoping to expand this to other high-volume organic retailers.

RMIT routinely refurbishes spaces, which includes updating furniture.  RMIT’s removalist contractor maintains a catalogue of second hand furniture available for use on campus and at events. If you need furniture, please contact your college or portfolio office facilities team for access to the catalogue. The catalogue has a range of desks and storage options among other things. We use the catalogue to reuse furniture rather than dispose of it. It offers a sustainable, cost effective alternative to purchasing new furniture items for university spaces and events.

Terracycle recycles both Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Nespresso coffee capsules. Sign up for this on the Terracycle website, print your free label, package the pods and take them to your nearest free drop off point or send from your nearest Australia Post location.


Multi-sort waste bins (red, yellow and blue) can be ordered through the Property Services, Service Desk.  If you are running an event, or have a significant amount of waste, extra ad-hoc bins can also be ordered through the service desk. 

Organic streams must be free from contamination to make it viable - with one piece of contamination being enough to reject the load.  Unfortunately, given the high contamination levels of existing recycle bins, we feel would be difficult to control in communal spaces.

Generally, cleaners will do this if they notice contamination of the recyclable stream (for example, a half-eaten sandwich). To avoid this please ensure your recyclable materials are free from contamination prior to placing in a recyclable bin. We strive for continual improvement with our contractors processes to ensure they dispose of wastes appropriately.  

We have approached recycling organisations about providing a soft-plastic collection service specifically for RMIT, but most have no plans to extend their existing network.  The REDcycle group have an extensive drop-off network, so we suggest you drop your soft-plastics off at one of their existing sites. 

The item may be leased from a supplier, in which case it should be returned to RMIT information technology services; generally a red sticker will identify this. We are working on finding a solution to providing a dedicated e-waste collection, but this is not something we currently provide.

You can find great information about how to responsible dispose of e-waste it on the City of Melbourne waste website.  

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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