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What goes where? Pitch in to reduce waste at Franklin

Do you know what to do with that Styrofoam coffee cup, once you’ve downed your java? What about the paper towel you just used to dry your hands? And biodegradable plastic — can that be recycled?

Franklin’s new Waste Reduction Program will be a success if we all know what can be recycled and composted rather than thrown in the trash to go to the landfill. Go to the Building & Administrative Service Center website, or see the guidelines below to find out how to use the new color-coded bins and other waste receptacles in the building.

If you have a composting conundrum or a recycling riddle, please go to the bottom of this story and submit a comment to ask your question: What should I do with . . . ? We will research it for you and publish a story in an upcoming issue of Link to cover some of those problem items.


What can be recycled in the blue bins?

  • Paper items: Paper (white, colored and glossy), computer and ledger paper, envelopes, junk mail, magazines, newspapers, phone books, post-it notes, paper bags (if not food-soiled), cardboard, cardboard sleeves for coffee, cereal boxes (without lining), tissue boxes (without plastic wrapper), egg cartons (if not food-soiled), non-metallic wrapping paper.
  • Bottles and cans: Aluminum cans, aluminum foil, glass bottles and jars, spray cans (empty) and tin cans. Please rinse items out, if possible, before placing them in the bin.
  • Recyclable plastic: Bottles, coffee cup lids, cups and plates, containers and clamshells, tubes and lids. Please rinse items out, if possible, before placing them in the bin.

What cannot be recycled?
Food scraps or food-soiled paper products (compost); waxed cardboard and waxed paper (trash); food wrappers (compost); foil-lined, plastic-lined paper or drink boxes (trash); plastic bags, wrappers or films (trash); plastic items with metal, fabric or rubber parts (trash); compostable containers (compost); biodegradable plastics (trash); Styrofoam (trash), batteries (see below!), ceramic dishes or cups (trash), coat hangers (trash or your local dry cleaner), mirrors and light bulbs. (Please give light bulbs of any kind to Building Services for proper disposal.)


What is compost?

Compost is decomposed organic matter, including plant remains and other once-living materials, which can be used as a rich soil conditioner. By composting your organic waste, you are returning nutrients back into the soil and keeping these products out of the landfill. Finished compost looks like soil — dark brown and crumbly. Recology East Bay picks up our food and organic waste and turns it into compost.

How does composting work at Franklin Street?

Place all compost in the green bins located in the kitchens and conference rooms. We also compost our soiled paper towels from the restrooms, so each restroom has the appropriate receptacles. Please place your used paper towels in the clearly marked “Paper Towels Only” receptacles under the paper towel dispensers (these are not color-coded), and place trash in the black “Trash Only” bins.

What can be composted in the green bins?

  • Food: All food scraps including fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish, bones, rice, beans, pasta, bread, cheese, eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds. Plant clippings can also be composted.
  • Food-soiled paper products: Paper towels, napkins, coffee filters, paper cups and plates, paper bags, paper take-out boxes, paper milk and juice cartons with no foil liner and waxed cardboard. In the restrooms, place soiled paper towels in the clearly marked “Paper Towels Only” receptacles under the paper towel dispensers, and place trash in the black bins marked “Trash Only.”
  • Compostable cutlery: Cutlery, plates, cups and bowls, if clearly marked as compostable.

What cannot be composted?

No plastics (including biodegradable plastics, which do not degrade quickly enough for compost), Styrofoam (trash), glass (recycle), metals (trash) or liquids (down the drain or, if toxic, dispose of only at a hazmat facility).


What goes into the black bins for landfill?

Plastic chip and other plastic food bag wrappers or films; plastic bags and food wrap; foil or plastic-lined paper drink or soup boxes; plastic items with metal, fabric or rubber parts; biodegradable plastics; waxed cardboard and paper; Styrofoam; ceramic dishes or cups; coat hangers; pens and pencils; rubber bands; and mirrors.


Batteries cannot be thrown in the trash! They have toxic materials that can leak, so do not place used batteries in trash cans. Each floor has clearly marked “Used Battery” tubs in the kitchen nearest the freight elevator. These battery recycling bins accept all size batteries for recycling. Note that large batteries, such as those used in large flashlights and cordless power tools, and any cell phone or small electronics batteries should be wrapped or taped up for safety. Simply wrap the battery in plastic wrap or use scotch tape to tape over the battery end terminals to prevent leakage. Standard size batteries (AA, AAA, 9V, C and D) do not need to be wrapped or taped, but if in doubt, tape the terminal ends before placing in the recycling tub.

If you have any questions about the Franklin Building Waste Reduction Program, please contact Franklin Chief Building Manager Roman Starno at or 510-587-6100.

Comments ( 2 )

Have Something To Say ?

  1. Elizabeth Ellis August 13, 2013 Reply

    What bin for the frozen dinner containers — they indicate they are recyclable on the package — so I am guessing blue bin?

  2. Chris Orr August 13, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for the new bins and their photo explanations of what goes where! They are really helping. One thing missing in the list is plastic flatware (spoons, forks, knives). I know these fall under “plastic” in general, but they are so often used that calling them out would be good. Also, it is enlightenting to learn that even biodegradable plastic flatware (made from potato or soy) should just go in the landfill trash.

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