Behind the Blue Bin: What to Recycle?

November 14, 2011

And now to address the question many of you have been waiting for: What IS acceptable to put in blue bins on-campus. The list is fairly basic, with one minor exception that needs a fair amount of explanation for it to make complete sense.

First, a quick note:

Because I know too many people that do this, and it will be important when we get to plastics, I’m going to say it again very explicitly.

Resist your deep-seated TWAMPyness and do not stress over the smallest amounts of residue in an item; today’s infrastructure is able to handle this. As far as recycling bottles with or without the caps, it is not a major issue for TFC; infrastructure can handle small amounts of contamination.

At the same time, do not go blow your nose with a tissue and put that thing anywhere near a blue bin; needless to say, that paper is a bit too contaminated (tissues and paper towels are also not a high enough quality of paper to be recycled).

Without further ado, here is the official list of the kinds of material, when not severely contaminated, that can be put in blue bins at our College***:

Non-shredded. It can be newsprint, magazines, that two month old flier that’s STILL on the first floor of Morton Hall advertising something you don’t care about, whatever. This INCLUDES items that are paper-like as well. Cardboard, cereal boxes and things of that nature, we’re looking at you.

When asked specifically about contamination (i.e. that tiny bit of soda that never seems to leave the can), Farron insisted that that would not have a huge effect on the quality of the overall product. As always, however, use good judgment (the aluminum foil covering that roasted chicken may not be able to be salvaged, for instance).

Preferably not broken ☺.

That can of tomato soup you just enjoyed belongs in the recycling bin before you dig in.

Ok, now here is where you need to pay attention. Students, as well as faculty and staff, often do not look for the number that is located on every plastic used in America (those few items that seem like plastic but don’t have a number are not recyclable). Yet often times on the bottom of most items, the key number to consider is there (If you want to learn about the numbers and listen the same part of a Jack Johnson song TWICE, here’s a basic video:

For recycling on-campus, #1 and #2 in the shape of a bottle are the only kinds of plastic that can be recycled (SEAC, however, is currently working on a way to recycle the other numbers of plastic…stay tuned on that front). Thanks to private enterprise and investment in recouping material mainly by the likes of beverage companies, items of this nature can be recycled with great ease, making it worthwhile to recycle by companies like TFC.

Now, that’s not an endorsement to go and drink as many 20 oz. Pepsis or Cokes as you want. According to Larron, it is due to the beverage industry’s work to help recover their plastic (admittedly to lower their costs) that TFC is able to collect BOTTLE-SHAPED #1 and #2 plastics.

Why not other plastics, you ask? Well, surprise, surprise; the answer comes down to an economical concern. Due to the type of resin, opaque-ness, and certain other chemicals found in the product, items such as an empty tub of margarine are not cost-effective enough to sell out to recyclers of plastic by TFC, even if it does sport a #1 or #2 on the bottom.

So, to summarize the plastics section:

Is your plastic bottle-shaped?
If yes, continue. If no, do not recycle (reuse if possible).

Is your plastic a #1 or #2?
If yes, RECYCLE. If no, do not recycle (reuse if possible).

There, that is not so hard, right? If it is, I suggest you go and listen to what Jack Johnson was talking about again and consider two things:

-He’s got elementary school kids singing along, so they know what’s up.
-If Jack Johnson is singing about it, it’s probably something that is good to do.

Even if you do not want to bro out, I would be absolutely shocked if you were not threatened by this video from the greatest Nicktoon of the 90’s, Rocko’s Modern Life:
“That was a HOOT!!”

***This list excludes special items such as electronics, shoes, and plastic bags that have other means of getting recycled on-campus. For information on that, visit:

By: Jamison Shabanowitz

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .


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