There is little known about recyclable intensive care unit waste. We tested the hypotheses that the intensive care unit produces a small proportion (< 10%) of hospital waste, that much waste (> 30%) is recyclable and that there is little (< 10%) cross-contamination of non-infectious with infectious waste. For seven consecutive days in an Australian 10-bedded intensive care unit, we prospectively sorted all waste. The total intensive care unit waste for the week was 540 kg, representing 5% of hospital waste. Of the 401 kg of intensive care unit general waste, recyclables were 230 kg (57%; 95% CI 53-61%), mainly plastics, cardboard and paper. There were 0.4 kg of infectious cross-contamination in the 401 kg of general waste. Intensive care unit waste was a small proportion of all hospital waste. However, there was minimal infectious waste cross-contamination and almost 60% of intensive care unit general waste could be recycled with appropriate safeguards, education and training.