Last week’s Volante featured an article about recycling that included some information that is no longer true about the types of plastic accepted by the campus single-stream recycling program. The correct information is that the only plastics accepted are bottles, tubs and jugs regardless of the number on them.
Our recyclable materials go to Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls. Millennium sorts, bales and sells the materials to mills that make them into new products. Before putting something in a recycling bin, we need to make sure it has value to those mills. Otherwise, it doesn’t get recycled. Worse, it can disrupt the recycling process and contaminate otherwise valuable materials.
For example, plastic bags get stuck in equipment at Millennium, making the facility shut down for workers to manually remove them. Entire bags of paper go to the landfill when someone forgets to empty their drink bottle before tossing it in the bin.
Unaccepted plastic items like coffee cups from the MUC don’t interfere with the recycling machinery the way plastic bags do, but they burden Millennium with the cost of removing them and reduce the value of materials they get baled with if they don’t get removed. Over time, high processing costs and low commodity prices undermine the viability of the recycling system.
You can do your part by checking Millennium’s website before putting something in a bin: MillenniumRecycling.com/SingleStream. If you don’t find your answer there, I’m more than happy to field questions. It’s my job! Send me an email at Anna.Moore@coyotes.usd.edu.