Zero Waste Program makes changes to recycling rules

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

The City of Eugene has changed its recycling rules and the University of Oregon’s Zero Waste Program is asking students to throw all plastics away except for bottles and jugs.

Cimmeron Gillespie, Zero Waste Program’s marketing and education coordinator, defined accepted bottles as any plastic container that has a mouth smaller than its base — common types are water bottles and juice bottles, and jugs are considered containers with handles. They also consider things like jars to be bottles if they fit the shape requirement.

Zero waste has changed its recycling rules to restrict recycling anything but bottles (any plastic container in which the mouth opening at the top is smaller than its base) and jugs (any plastic containers with handles). (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

“We identify what materials there are markets for so that we can take materials that are able to be recycled,” said Gillespie. “We only want to take materials that we know we can handle and that we know that there’s a market for and we can send.”

Gillespie said the most common mistake they see when sorting the waste is people recycling cups, straws and utensils. Another thing that confuses people is the recycling symbol.

“There’s a common misconception that the recycling mobius, the triangle with the number inside, indicates that item is recyclable,” said Gillespie. “Here we don’t use the mobius to determine what’s recyclable — we use the shape. There are other areas where that system is different and every system across the United States is going to be different.”

Although it can be difficult to remember what goes where, Gillespie said the program tries to make their needs as clear as possible with visual aids on tables and trash cans with colors and pictures.

Zero Waste sorts different recyclable materials into appropriate bins. Certain items are moved in and out faster than others. For instance, plastic cans and bottles move in and out of the facility most days, while items like CDs linger around for much longer. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

According to Gillespie, UO’s waste recovery percentage is about 55 percent, meaning that amount of materials went somewhere other than a landfill.

“That means there’s still room to improve, but we’re excited that the majority of materials are not being thrown away,” said Gillespie.

Gillespie encouraged those with any other questions to visit the Zero Waste Program’s website where they can find the program’s email.

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