Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Happens to Campus Recyclables?

Here on the blog, we talk a lot about what happens with the landfill portion of Carleton's waste stream, but we also care about what happens to recyclables! Lucky for us on campus, Carleton has a single-stream recycling system. That makes our job easy--we don't have to sort out different kinds of recyclables. Plastics, paper products glass, and aluminum cans can all go into the same bin. But these materials are very different, and can't actually be recycled together. That means they all have to get sorted out somewhere down the line. At Carleton, all of our single-stream recyclables get sent to a sorting facility similar to this (which is actually super cool):

What does this mean for students? Even though we monitors look mostly at contaminants in landfill bins, we see a lot of things end up in recycling that shouldn't be there, too. For recycling, the most common things that aren't recyclable that we still see in the bins are plastic bags and wrappers. PLEASE don't put plastic bags and wrappers in the recycling bin! It just makes it harder to get everything sorted at the Material Recovery Facility like the one shown in the video, and if a contaminant gets missed all of what we send in might have to be thrown away. Make sorting recyclables easier; properly sort plastic bags and wrappers into the landfill!

Interested in seeing an MRF like this one? Join the tour 7th week for Climate Action Week!

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