Recycling at CNM

Learn how to get involved in the Campus Race to Zero Waste, a multi-campus recycling and data collection project.

Campus Race to Zero Waste logo
Campus Race to Zero Waste 2021

Each year, the Campus Race to Zero Waste (formerly RecycleMania) Program calls for best practice case studies from campuses across the U.S. and Canada to showcase programs and strategies in waste minimization, food waste reduction, and education and awareness. The case study program is a great opportunity to study our progress and to share helpful information with colleges that are working on similar efforts.

This year, CNM is hosting an Online Education Campaign so that students & staff who are not on campus may continue to learn about waste and recycling. The campaign will emphasize residential solutions that align with our situation in Albuquerque, as well as global waste issues. The topics that will be presented are buying in bulk, composting at home, plastic pollutants and pollution, recycling materials and contaminants, the recycling market, landfills, and environmental justice.

On this page, and on other CNM media channels, you will find educational resources, including a list of activities that you can participate in at home. The campaign will run through March 2021. For a list of what can and cannot be recycled, go to the bottom of this page, or visit the Waste Management website.

2021 Activities
Photo of a Bulk Food Aisle
Bulk Food Aisle

January 31-February 6, 2021

How to Reduce Your Waste Footprint at Home

1) Buy food and other items in bulk.

Buying items in bulk decreases wasteful packaging that would otherwise go to the landfill, end up as a pollutant on land or in our oceans, or at a recycling facility for energy-intensive processing. Buying in bulk also results in fewer visits to store and is much less costly than purchasing pre-packaged items.

Photo of kidney beans
Activity 1

Photo blast, or your use your own public Instagram page with images of ingredients purchased in bulk, or a dish that uses at least one bulk-purchased ingredient. Identify the bulk ingredient in your email (example: attached is an image of stew that has bulk-purchased pinto beans), or call out the ingredient in your Instagram caption (example: #pintobeans). Also be sure to include hashtags: #CNMRecycle2021 & #campusracetozerowaste2021. Images shared via email to, and/or via your own public Instagram account, may also be published on a CNM social media channel. For recognition, the deadline to send/post is February 6, 2021.

2) Composting: Have you ever considered it? There are many easy ways to compost at home.

Photo of a Compost Bin
Compost Bin

According to the NM Organics Recycling Organization, "Almost 40% of food is lost or wasted from production to plate and represents almost 15% of our waste stream." The NMSU Master Composters say that composting is a way to "channel organic home waste into a beneficial resource," such as soil amendments for gardens and landscapes. Luckily, composting at home also reduces the amount of green waste to landfills, which creates methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Watch this video made by a CNM instructor on how to build a vermicomposting bin at home. Learn how to build a larger outdoor bin appropriate for our arid climate here

Activity 2

Create your own how-to YouTube video of creating a vermicomposting or outdoor bin, or a video that shows how-to compost using a new or existing compost bin. Send the video link to, and it will be published on CNM's Sustainability website. Also, please share your video on your own social media accounts using the hashtags #CNMRecycle2021 and #campusracetozerowaste2021. Have fun!

Single-Stream Recycling at CNM

Single-stream recycling is an all-in-one recycling method where materials can be combined into one single bin. CNM has blue single-stream recycling bins located next to the trash cans in most classrooms and large green cardboard recycling bins have been placed in common areas across all campuses.

Here are some examples of items that CAN be placed in CNM's single-stream recycling bins:

  • Plastic
  • Paper
  • Aluminum cans and foil
  • Copy paper
  • Lids from coffee cups
  • Cardboard
  • Paper envelopes
  • Newspapers
  • Tin or steel cans
  • Plastic bottles
  • Milk jugs

Items that should NOT be placed in CNM recycling bins include:

  • Food wrappers
  • Candy wrappers
  • Bags from chips or snacks
  • Full or partially full plastic bottles
  • Cardboard or paper containing food
  • Styrofoam containers
  • Disposable coffee cups
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Glass bottles or jars


In 2020, as a part of a STEM class project, students from the Native American Community Academy (NACA) High School, located at CNM Main Campus, assisted the CNM Physical Plant Department that assessed whether the new waste and recycling signage has had an impact on waste diversion and contamination rates. In 2018, CNM won the case study in the Waste Minimization category and received an honorable mention in 2019.