Recycling Centers

Existing Commercial

What are Recycling Centers?

Recycling Centers are designated areas in a building designed to facilitate recycling. Recycling converts materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources and generates financial, environmental, and social returns both locally and globally.[1] Recycling not only saves resources and but also reduces the need for landfills and resource recovery facilities.[2] Having a dedicated and organized recycling center in a building makes recycling easy and increases the likelihood that occupants adequately sort recyclables and trash.

Figure 1 – Separate trash and recycling bins (Source: Rutgers Center for Green Building)

Figure 1 – Separate trash and recycling bins (Source: Rutgers Center for Green Building)

Recycling certain materials in New Jersey is mandatory. For more information about solid waste and recycling in NJ, visit the NJ DEP Solid Hazardous Waste Management program website.

How to Implement Recycling Centers

Design recycling programs to comply with local laws and regulations and to make recycling convenient for building occupants and facilities staff. Give careful consideration to the type of recycling containers, space allocations for containers and storage, and the movement of recyclables throughout the facility from inside to outside. At a minimum, recycling programs should provide for the collection of paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastics, and metals. Designing and allocating space for the storage and collection of recyclables is required in LEED v4.[3]

When designing a recycling program, important considerations include:

  • Allocate sufficient interior and exterior space.
  • Plan for how to transport the materials to the outside collection area.
  • Consider where materials are generated within the building and locate convenient central collection containers.
  • Give special consideration to spaces such as copy centers, kitchens, break rooms, receiving and shipping areas and loading docks.
  • Place desktop or desk-side bins by employees’ desk for collection of office paper.
  • Place collection containers for other recyclables such as newspapers and magazines in central locations.
  • Label collection containers clearly to ensure proper sorting.
  • Consider space needs and access and collection by vehicles for outdoor storage areas.
  • Implement recycling policies and procedures.
  • Conduct periodic training for building occupants and facilities staff.


Planning for a well-designed and well-run recycling program can lead to more efficient waste management and benefits for the facility occupants and the environment. There are many benefits related to recycling over disposal but taking steps towards source reduction and material reuse first, and then implementing recycling efforts provides the environmental benefit.[4]

Some benefits noted by the Natural Resources Defense Council include:[5]

  • Conserves natural resources, such as timber, water, and mineral ores, from domestic and imported sources.
  • Prevents pollution caused by manufacturing from virgin resources.
  • Saves energy in the production of products from virgin materials that need to be harvested and manufactured.
  • Reduces the need for landfills and incineration while also helping to reduce the pollution produced by these processes.
  • Helps protect and expand manufacturing jobs in America.
  • Engenders a sense of community involvement and responsibility in protecting the environment.

For a list of economic and environmental benefits of recycling in New Jersey, go to


Recycling costs vary, but a well-designed recycling program can improve a facility’s waste management practices and cost less than garbage disposal for an equivalent amount of material. Recycling can reduce the waste stream and may be able to reduce the frequency of trash pick-ups or the size of disposal containers.[6] Recycling bins for recycling center and spaces throughout the facility can vary in price depending on style and material but are widely available from a variety of manufacturers.


Proactive strategies for waste-related issues associated with disasters is an integral part of resilience planning.[7] Reducing waste and reusing or recycling materials can help protect natural habitats that contribute to more resilient ecosystems.

[1] US EPA. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. (accessed May 9, 2019).

[2] NJ DEP. Recycling in New Jersey. (accessed May 9, 2019).

[3] USGBC. LEED BD+C New Construction v4.  (accessed May 9, 2019).

[4] NJ DEP. Recycling in New Jersey. (accessed May 9, 2019).

[5] Natural Resources Defense Council. Too Good to Throw Away. (accessed May 9, 2010).

[6] US EPA. Resource Conservation – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. (accessed May 9, 2019).

[7] US EPA. Waste Management Planning to Mitigate the Impacts of Climate Change. (accessed March 24, 2019).