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Single Stream

Single-stream recycling is coming

August 11, 2014
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On Monday, Aug. 18, WPI will convert to “single-stream” recycling. Instead of diligently separating recyclables into several “streams” – mixed paper, glass/plastic/aluminum, and cardboard, we will be able to put these three streams into one bin. Single stream recycling makes it as convenient to recycle as it is to use the trash.

Jennifer Dudgeon, WPI’s director of sustainability, says that using just one collection bin for recyclables increases the ease and convenience of recycling .

Jennifer Dudgeon, WPI’s director of sustainability,
says that using just one collection bin for
recyclables increases the ease and convenience
of recycling 

“Anything that can be recycled can now all go into one bin,” says Jennifer Dudgeon, WPI’s director of sustainability. “At the end of the day, we want our recycling numbers to increase, and we want to make it easier for everyone to recycle.”
What are the benefits of single stream recycling?

  • It decreases the amount of trash we throw away.
  • Using just one collection bin for recyclables increases the ease and convenience of recycling so more people can participate.
  • It offers more efficient collections for haulers who normally have to run multiple recycling routes to pick up the different streams, thus reducing vehicle use, fuel consumption, and pollution.

According to Liz Tomaszewski, facilities systems manager/sustainability coordinator, the WPI community can do a lot to reduce the trash thrown away on campus every year (what amounts to approximately 250 pounds of trash per student, per year). WPI’s recycling rates are 4 percent below the national average of 34 percent. “This is very low,” Tomaszewski says. “We can do much better, which is the reason that we are transitioning to single stream, to make it more convenient for the community. We would definitely like to be in the 40 percent range.”

But you can’t just toss your recyclables into the bin without giving them a quick wash to avoid contaminating the whole batch, as recycled materials are a commodity. If there is food waste remaining on the container, for instance, the entire batch of recyclables could be determined to be contaminated and then treated as trash.

What do we need to do differently? Starting Aug. 18, you will see containers around campus with either blue or green covers. You should throw all your recyclables (paper, plastics, glass, aluminum, and cardboard) in these bins. Large amounts of cardboard can be placed on the floor near the recycling bin. In your offices, you will use the blue bin for ALL recyclables – not just paper.

Please contact Jen Dudgeon, WPI Director of Sustainability, with any questions or concerns (green@wpi.edu).

BY JULIA QUINN-SZCESUIL