Our recycling schemes

The University generates a significant quantity of waste each year and has developed a strategy to ensure that we meet legal obligations and manage waste sustainably.


Battery recycling

The law bans the disposal of all batteries (both wet and dry cell) in landfill or by incineration. This means that batteries must not be disposed of in the general waste; instead they must be separated from the general waste stream and sent for recycling.

The University has set up a corporate battery recycling scheme. Batteries are collected and stored centrally and then collected by a waste contractor for recycling.

Slightly different arrangements exist for the following types of battery:

  • Lithium batteries
  • Large wet cell batteries
  • All other types of batteries (i.e. small wet cell batteries and dry cell batteries, except lithium)
Lithium batteries

Lithium batteries can be quite dangerous, they can both explode and catch fire. This means that there are specific requirements relating to the storage, transport and disposal of waste lithium batteries.

The Logistics Team collect spent lithium batteries from departments and store them centrally prior to collection by a specialist contractor.

Because of the hazardous nature of lithium batteries, the law requires these types of batteries to be separated from other batteries so they can be stored and packed safely for transport. The University’s arrangements are as follows.

Preparing batteries for a collection

Prior to requesting a collection of batteries with the Logistics Team, departments that use and dispose of lithium batteries must ensure that:

- Lithium batteries are separated from all other types of batteries.
- Batteries are fully discharged.
- The trailing terminal wires of batteries have been cut off where they leave the casing, so there is no way for the cut ends to touch each other, or the ends have been securely taped with electrical tape.
- Defective, damaged, leaking or swollen batteries are packed separately in clear plastic bags and labelled accordingly.

Requesting a collection of batteries

Departments should only store lithium batteries temporarily and should request collections as soon as batteries are no longer required. Collections of batteries are made by the Logistics Team; departments can request collections of lithium batteries through EFM Self Service (FM Services - Waste & Recycling). Please complete and upload the additional collection request form when you book your collection.  To do this you need the following information for each battery:

- Type of battery (single use; or rechargable)
- Battery chemistry (Lithium titante; Lithium nickel cobalt aluminium; Lithium cobalt; Lithium manganese; Lithium iron phosphates; or Lithium nickel manganese cobalt)
- Battery configuration (cell, or pack)
- For damaged batteries only - indication of the type of damage and charge status

Lithium battery collection request formWaiting for a collection

The Logistics Team usually collect within 2-3 working days of receiving a collection request. Prior to collection departments must ensure that:

- The PlanOn reference number is written clearly on each battery - small batteries should be put into transparent bags and the number written on the bag.
- Batteries are stored at least 5m away from other combustible materials.
- Batteries are not exposed to very low or high temperatures (including out of direct sunlight) or heat sources.

Please note that because of the specific legislative requirement relating to the storage and transport of lithium batteries, the Logistics Team will not be able to collect batteries from departments that:

- Do not meet the requirements described above.
- Have been inadequately described on the booking form.
- Have already been packed in inert material.

Large wet cell batteries

Lead acid batteries, although sealed, are classified as wet cell batteries. These batteries can be big and heavy.

Small sealed lead acid batteries can be disposed of in the same way as dry cell batteries – which is described above.

The Recycling Team will collect large and heavy wet cell batteries directly from departments, book a collection using EFM Self Service (in MUSE) or by contacting the Estates Help Desk.

Departments must handle wet cell batteries with care prior to collection.

Whilst awaiting collection, batteries must:

  • Be stored undercover and in a secure area where nobody can tamper with them, trip over them or anything can impact on them.
  • Be positioned the right way up.
  • Have any exposed terminals taped up – this is to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Leaking batteries are placed in a plastic bag (preferably a transparent one).
  • Unless in original plastic outer containers, they must not be stacked on top of each other.
Dry cell batteries (except lithium batteries)

Zinc carbon, zinc chloride, alkaline manganese, mercuric oxide, zinc air, silver oxide, nickel cadmium, and nickel metal hydride batteries are all classified as dry cell batteries. Spent Oxygen sensor units should all be disposed of as a dry cell battery.

You can take your batteries to your departmental collection point. Large collections of batteries can be booked using EFM Self Service (in MUSE) or by contacting the Estates Help Desk. Please note - smaller volumes of batteries can no longer be sent to the Environment Manager via the internal mail.

To ensure that dry cell batteries are stored safely prior to collection please make sure that:

  • The trailing terminal wires of batteries have been cut off where they leave the casing, so there is no way for the cut ends to touch each other, or the ends have been securely taped with electrical tape.
  • Defective, damaged, leaking or swollen batteries are packed separately in clear plastic bags and labelled accordingly.


Published books with an ISBN (any subject, genre, age, condition, language, including fiction and popular non-fiction) are collected by Simply Textbook.

This scheme can be used for any books, staff and students are welcome to bring their own books as well as university owned books that are no longer needed. All books have to be boxed up keeping manual handling in mind. There aren't any specific collection points, ideally departments could set up their own collection points and get them collected when they have a box or more available. 

Once you have a box of books ready for collection, please liaise with your departmental colleague who is a 'requestor' for PlanOn - the EFM Self Service online system. The requestors should arrange collection by our logistics team who can then arrange for a collection by Simply Textbook once the minimum quantity is secured from across the University. Larger quantities (500 and more books) can be collected directly by Simply Textbook, this type of collection can be arranged through the Environment team

Books that cannot be sent to Simply Textbook, such as journals, manuals, pamphlets etc, can be recycled through putting them in our co-mingled recycling bins. All but doctoral theses have to be disposed of as confidential waste.

Catering platters

gUSto, with the support of Estates and Facilities Management, collect plastic platters from internally catered events so they can be washed and used again.

With every delivery, you’ll be given a green bag. When you’ve finished your event remove the uneaten food and put the platters and lids in the green bag - there’s no need to wash them.

If you’re in a building with a porters lodge, drop the bag off there. If your building does not have a porters lodge, book a collection using EFM Self Service (in MUSE) or by contacting the Estates Help Desk.

For more information about gUSto and their environmental initiatives visit the gUSto website or email gusto@sheffield.ac.uk.

Mobile phone recycling

The law no longer allows electrical equipment to be disposed of in the general waste, instead all electrical equipment, including mobile phones, must be re-used, recycled or recovered.

The Voice and Data Team manage the University’s mobile device contracts. They collect unwanted devices from departments; any information on the phones is erased and where possible the device and any accessories will either be re-used within the organisation or kept as spares. Unwanted devices and accessories are sent for recycling.

If a phone is upgraded, withdrawn or if the user leaves the University, the device can be redeployed to another team member within the department. Voice and Data Team must be informed if phones are reallocated so the account information can be updated.

If the device is unwanted it must be returned to the Voice and Data Team - all devices and handsets remain the property of the University.

Devices, along with their chargers, accessories and manuals should be packaged securely and sent via the internal mail to the Voice and Data Team, CiCS Computing Centre, 8-20 Hounsfield Road, Sheffield S3 7RF. The package should be clearly labelled for reuse/recycling.

If you have any queries please contact the Voice and Data Team directly on 33333.

Mixed recycling

We collect our recycling in blue mixed recycling bins. Collecting all of our recycling in the same bin keeps things simple and means fewer bins.

Our blue recycling bin is for more than just paper and card. It’s also for cans, tins, glass, foil and plastics.

The rubbish bin is for tissues, hand towels, dirty food packaging, coffee cups, food waste and non-recyclable plastics. Pyrex and ceramics can’t be recycled in our recycling bins either.

Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to identify what can be recycled - plastics are notoriously difficult. Hopefully the list below will help. If it’s not on the list then put it in the general waste bin. If you’re still confused then give the Environment Officer a call on 29083.

Paper and card

  • White paper
  • Coloured paper
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Leaflets
  • Envelopes
  • Books
  • Journals
  • All grades of card


  • All colours of glass bottles and jar


  • All types of tins, cans and foil, including sweet tins and other similar items


  • Tubs: Containing non-food items for example hand cream, wipes, detergent and cleaning products; and food items such as soup pots and margarine tubs
  • Bags: Plastic bags and polythene
  • Bottles: All types of plastic bottles - if it has a lid it can be recycled
  • Pots: Hard pots without lids, for example yoghurt pots and noodle pots
  • Trays that hold fruit, vegetables, cakes and biscuits
  • Moulded plastic packaging from non-food items, for example from batteries or memory sticks

Please remember to give the recycling a quick rinse if needed.

Printer cartridge recycling

Laserjet and inkjet cartridges are collected, sorted and stored centrally by the Recycling Team for recycling.

To recycle printer cartridges you should put the empty cartridge into the package of the replacement cartridge, secure the box and send it to the Recycling Team.

There are two ways to send your printer cartridges to the Recycling Team:

Tip boxes

Pipette tip boxes and wafers are recyclable, but as they are made from hard plastic (i.e. polypropylene) they cannot be recycled in our mixed recycling bins. Instead, they need to be collected separately for recycling.

A centrally managed system has been set up to collect and recycle the packaging. Biosciences have an automatic collection system set up in their buildings with the Facilities Assistants.  All other requests need to be made through the EFM Self Service Waste and Recycling form so they can be collected and taken to the recycling yard.

The following items from any supplier can be recycled:

  • Racks
  • Refill wafers
  • Refill's spacers and
  • Top and bottom box shells

Tube and lamp recycling

Fluorescent tubes and lamps are classed as hazardous waste and fall under the waste, electrical and electronic equipment regulations, the law bans the disposal of all types of fluorescent tubes in the general waste.

This means that fluorescent tubes and lamps must not be disposed of in the general waste bins and skips around the campus; instead they must be separated from the general waste stream and sent for recovery/recycling.

The University has set up a corporate recycling scheme for fluorescent tubes and lamps. Technical Services oversee this scheme.

Departments should book collections of fluorescent tubes and lamps by booking a collection using EFM Self Service (in MUSE) or by contacting the Estates Help Desk.

Note: Filament light bulbs can be disposed of as general waste.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) can no longer be disposed of with our general waste. Legislation requires the University to separate WEEE from other waste and ensure that it is re-used, recycled or recovered where possible.

A corporate system has been set up for the disposal of computers, PC peripherals and historic WEEE. Departments must arrange for the disposal of other WEEE themselves. A flowchart and guidance have been developed to help you identify the appropriate disposal route for any WEEE that you may have.

You can book a collection using the on-line booking form in EFM Self Service (find this in MUSE).

If you are disposing of lab equipment or equipment from workshops you now need to complete and upload a decontamination certificate when you book your collection. Click here to download a copy of the decontamination certificate here.

Winchesters recycling scheme

Veolia collects glass Winchesters bottles and recycles them together with regular glass waste. Regular collections from Kroto and Western Bank are managed by the Facilities Assistants on a daily basis. Winchesters from all other locations are collected by the Logistics Team following a request through EFM Self Service (in MUSE) or if you don't have access to EFM Self Service by contacting the Estates Help Desk.

Click here for instructions on how to clean the Winchester bottles.

Click here for the lab poster.

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