Did you want to put that into Recycling?!Please Don’t…

Don’t recycle those milk or juice cartons. Seriously, please don’t do it. Northeastern and the State of Massachusetts, in general, do not have proper recycling capabilities to deal with those things. Only three paper mills in the US can process cartons, and none are in the Northeast. Now, with this CRUCIAL piece of information out of the way, let us talk about some common questions about recycling.

Q1 “If a plastic item has that recycling icon with those arrows and numbers inside those arrows, it’s guaranteed to be recyclable, right?” – Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The number indicates the type of plastic and doesn’t mean it can or cannot be recycled.  You should ignore the arrows and numbers and recycle plastic that is clean and dry and that generally meets the following shape characteristics – bottle, jar, jug, or tub.

Q2 “Should I remove this bottle cap? I have heard that it won’t otherwise be recycled.” It is actually vice-versa. It is better to leave the cap on but just make sure that the container is empty. There is an exception, however, for pump or spray bottles (e.g., for lotions, liquid hand soap, some shampoo, cleaning products, etc.). The pump or sprayer should be removed and put in the trash, while the bottle itself can go in recycling. Bottle caps that are put into the recycling bin loose will end up being disposed of as trash.

Q3 “I should just throw away that pizza box. My friend said they are not recyclable.” Nowadays, pizza boxes are as recyclable as regular cardboard but please completely empty the box of all leftover items such as crust, napkins, liners, etc. Yes – the grease is okay!

Q4 “Should I bag all those cans so that they won’t just fly around?” Please do not bag any recyclables! It is nice of you to think about how to make the recycling process more efficient, but bagging your recyclables will not make things better. Cans need to be bag-free. Paper bags are recycled separate from cans, and plastic bags jam equipment and cause a hazard to recycle plant workers. If you collect your cans in a bag to bring them to the recycling room, please dump them out of the bag when you drop them off.  

Q5 “I have to recycle electronics; I can put them in with the rest of the recycling pick-up, right?” Noooo, please do not mix your electronics with regular recycling! Dealing with electronics is a bit more complicated and requires a specialized process to correctly recycle all components. At Northeastern, you must follow the Asset Disposition Process to arrange for the collection and recycling of electronics. Off-campus, please check your city website for more information on how to recycle electronics within your area.

 As for Northeastern, the university has adopted a program to increase recycling and reduce contamination while improving convenience for the campus population. This was one of the catalysts for the currently ongoing “recycling-bin-renovation” project. The project’s goal is to replace recycling bins throughout the campus and make them more uniform, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, easily accessible for everyone. To learn more about this project, follow this path.

For more interesting facts, visit the Material & Recycling page on our Facilities website to get more information. 😊

Written by Alex Gritsinin – September 26th, 2021

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