Sustainability at Mines

The mission of the Colorado School of Mines is education and research in engineering and science to solve the world’s challenges related to the earth, energy, and environment.

Lab Recycling

Laboratories go through an enormous amount of plastic in a typical day, including plastic nitrile gloves, pipette tips and boxes, and more. Many of these items are used once and thrown away. One bioscience department in the UK estimated they generated around 267 tonnes of plastic waste in just one year equivalent to about 5.7 million empty 2-litre plastic bottles.  To reduce plastic waste from labs at Mines, the Sustainability Office started a pilot lab recycling project in the General Research Lab. Read more about it below.

  1. Nitrile lab gloves

We started a nitrile glove recycling pilot in the General Research Lab. What began as one lab quickly spread to 5 labs. We hope to expand the recycling pilot soon. Labs interested in participating must be trained on what types of gloves can and cannot be recycled. Typically, any gloves you would normally throw in the trash for landfill can be recycled. Gloves disposed of in biowaste or biohazard bins must continued to be disposed of in those bins.

  1. Block Styrofoam

We started a pilot for recycling block Styrofoam that comes from boxes of delivered lab equipment in the GRL and CoorsTek. At this time, we can only recycle white block Styrofoam #6 (you can break a piece off). Stickers must be removed. No other types of Styrofoam can be recycled at this time. There is a Styrofoam drop location in the basement of CoorsTek (trash/recycle room).

  1. Plastic boxes for pipette tips

We expanded our GRL pilot lab recycling project to include #5 plastic boxes and inside trays used for shipping pipette tips used in labs. One research lab was collecting these plastic boxes to recycle only to find most local recyclers won’t take them. We found a local recycler that will pick them up. We ordered a pipette tip recycling box that looks more attractive and frees up lab space.  We hope to expand the program soon.


Plastic pipette tip boxes being collected for recycling at a campus lab and a new recycle box.

  1. Supplier end-use recycling programs

Check with your suppliers next time you order and inquire about packaging items with recyclable packaging or packaging that can be returned to the manufacturer for reuse. Check out this list of lab suppliers with end use recycling programs.

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia commons except last two of pipette tip boxes.


Saving energy on campus also saves water! Producing electric power is the greatest source of water consumption in the U.S. followed by irrigation.

People.Power.Planet launched this fall to educate students, faculty, and staff about saving energy and water on campus while empowering us to be good stewards of the environment. Through friendly competitions, events, and other activities, this program will challenge us to change behaviors and become aware of our impact on campus and the world. To learn more and sign up, click here!


Nov 15th is America Recycles Day


November 15 is America Recycles Day.  Instead of throwing out those clothes you don’t love, donate them to a thrift store or trade with friends!    


Take the pledge to recycle more at #BeRecycled


Find out more about recycling on campus here

Recycling Bike Tires and Tubes

The Outdoor Recreation Center is now recycling old bike tubes and tires! Mines student Colton Lowry, who also works at the ORC, collects the old tubes and tires for pickup monthly.



Sustainability News 


Groundbreaking: Colorado School of Mines’ Residence Hall

A pair of Colorado School of Mines-led teams have been awarded more than $2 million by the U.S. Department of Energy for research that could lower the cost of solar electricity.

Mines Energy Awareness Campaign Featured on KUNC — Mines is partnering with McKinstry to increase energy awareness and savings on campus and KUNC, Northern Colorado’s public radio station, recently covered the story on air.

Mines Solar Decathlon in Africa — Learn about how the Mines Solar Decathlon team is preparing for competition in Africa in 2019. Mines Solar Decathlon Team’s home featured in U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Sustainability Expo.

Mines Students Compete in Clean River Design Challenge — Students at Colorado School of Mines, Metropolitan State University of Denver and University of Colorado Denver are helping tackle a major problem facing urban waterways in Denver.

Solar Disinfection System Wins CECS Design Fair — Check out how Mines students are designing a solar-powered water disinfection system for use in rural Uganda.

Sustainable Denver Summit

2018 Sustainable Denver Summit

November 29, 2018 Colorado Convention Center

The Sustainable Denver Summit brings together hundreds of leaders from across Denver’s business, nonprofit and civic communities to develop and announce commitments for new and expanded initiatives that will help Denver achieve its 2020 Sustainability Goals. For more details and to register, visit the City of Denver’s Office of Sustainability website.