Go Green - Reduce your waste & help us recycle

Take action and help UNHQ contribute to the SDG goals, particularly target 12.5 - “By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse”.


Learn more about the UNHQ waste journey, from desk to final destination...


The Office of Central Support Services is committed to manage UNHQ waste responsibly. To this end, we require UNHQ waste to be processed locally and have achieved zero-waste-to-landfill! We currently recycle and compost approximately 50% of the waste that leaves our facilities, the rest goes to a local state of the art Waste to Energy facility.  We continuously look at improving our operations, through regular waste audits and a partnership with Columbia University Earth Engineering Center.

With your help, we want to reduce the total amount of waste UNHQ generates and increase the recycling rate of what cannot, ultimately, be reduced or re-used. 


1. It starts with you.


What can you do to reduce your waste footprint?  


 Reduce the amount of waste you generate


 Bring your water bottle and enjoy tap water

 Bring your lunch and cutlery, so you won't need to use disposable items

 When possible, avoid packaging

 Use reusable bags

 Limit printing

 Avoid plastic and choose paper alternatives

 Re-use folders, clips and other office supplies


 Dispose of your waste responsibly and help us recycle...

  In your office







  In the pantries


  At the cafeteria and cafes











Do you have questions about waste reduction, separation and recycling, including at the cafeteria? Check out our FAQs.



2. The cleaners take over and bring our trash to the UNHQ loading dock


There are strict procedures for waste pick-up within UNHQ offices. Cleaners have carts with separate bags for the trash and recyclables. If they see that the blue bin for paper recycling at your desk is contaminated (such as by food or drinks), they are instructed to put the entire content into the bag for the regular trash! Cleaners do not have time to sort through our bins and contaminated waste is treated as trash by UNHQ waste removal contractor. This means that any recyclables in the trash or with trash will be lost to waste-to-energy incineration instead of being re-purposed into new products! Please do your part in separating your waste correctly.  If you notice an issue on your floor with the way waste is being taken, contact the FMS Helpdesk ([email protected]). 


3. UNHQ waste leaves our buildings. What happens to it?


The UNHQ waste removal contractor processes UNHQ waste locally, in the State of New York. The waste currently goes to two separate facilities: the trash bags are treated in Brooklyn where some of the food waste is separated for composting.  Recyclables bags are sorted in Queens where, to the extent possible, paper, plastic, metal and glass are recovered and provided to local mills for re-purposing.   In this way, a significant portion of UNHQ Municipal Solid Waste is recycled or composted, approximately 50% in total. The rest goes to a state of the art facility in New Jersey that transforms our waste into energy. We have achieved zero waste to landfill!

We can do more, however. More often than not, our recyclables end up in the trash bags because staff do not dispose of their waste correctly. It reduces our ability to recycle and compost optimally.  While the non-recycled plastic and other valuable material like aluminum will not end in landfills nor the Oceans, their potential to be repurposed into new products will be lost.  We want to recycle more, with your help!


Want to know what New York City is doing?


New York City, in its program OneNYC, has the goal to send zero waste to landfills by 2030. The City plans to eliminate the need to send our waste to out-of-state landfills, minimizing the overall environmental impact of our trash. You can find out the latest recycling rates for NYC, when organic collection will come to your neighborhood and more on the OneNYC website. If you want to help NYC to recycle and compost, you may be interested in GrowNYC

Each city has different rules for recycling, check your city website to dispose of your waste responsibly at home if you live outside of NYC.