Although napkins, paper towels, facial tissue, and paper plates are made from paper products, they are not sturdy enough to recycle. Leave these out of your bin!
Do recycle copy paper, notebooks, paper folders, newspapers, and cardboard!
Waste from trash cans and recycling bins is collected by five different trash trucks and all gets taken to our Waste Transfer Station on the southwest corner of campus.
Indoor recycling bins are lined with blue bags, and at the waste transfer station, those blue bags are pulled aside for recycling. You could call this a “sort” — but really the separation of recycling from trash happens when you decide where to throw away your waste.
Other trash in black bags gets dumped onto a human-sort conveyer, with workers pulling out just a few bottles and cans they see that are not contaminated with food waste. This is our last-chance effort to glean a few recyclables, but cannot be relied upon. So, make sure you bin it to make sure your items actually get recycled.
Food contamination is a big problem in recycling. Although a cardboard pizza box or plastic bottle is recyclable, the leftover food and drink on them is not. So, be sure to scrape food leftovers from boxes and make sure plastic and metal containers are empty.
Getting your recyclables in the right bin is essential for avoiding food contamination. If a messy smoothie or other food item is thrown in a recycling bin, everything there becomes destined for the landfill instead! 🙁
Coffee cups are tricky recyclables. Because the inside of the paper cup is lined with a thin layer of non-recyclable plastic to keep your drink from soaking through the bottom, the main body of the cup isn’t recyclable. However, the lid (if it’s make of #1 or #2 plastic – look for the symbol) and paperboard sleeve ARE recyclable. So, split it up, and Bin It!
BONUS: The best option for getting coffee is always to bring your own reusable mug. Almost all campus coffee shops will give you a discount for doing so!
Other items that look like paper, but have that non-recyclable lining: milk cartons, juice boxes, ice cream containers.