Recycling bins - what goes in?
Alexander Petrov submitted on
Wednesday 6th March 2019
Hi, this is a question particularly for the SUSU building but also valid University-wide. What exactly is recyclable in the "recycling" bins and how does the company hired to take care of SUSU's "corporate waste" manage recycling? For example, can paper cups soiled with Cola be recycled, or where should a compostable piece of waste (i.e. a paper straw) be put - the recycling or general waste?
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Isabella Camilleri submitted on
Wednesday 5th June 2019
Thank you for your submission. Estates and Facilities have provided the following response to your query:
Reducing waste and boosting recycling
We’re working to reduce the amount of waste produced on our campuses and to improve recycling rates. We operate a two-bin recycling system in our office, catering and teaching spaces - one bin for food waste, and one bin for virtually everything else.
The mixed waste is sorted off site at a materials recycling facility. Any waste that can’t be recycled is sent to an energy from waste facility so that energy and heat can be recovered.
Our food waste is sent for anaerobic digestion, which breaks down biodegradable materials using micro-organisms, producing gases that can be used to generate electricity and heat. The gases would otherwise be released into the atmosphere if the food were sent to a landfill.
Essentially, if there are no food stuffs, wet items or liquids disposed of in the Mixed Recycling bin, all the contents can all be taken as recyclate. However, this does not mean that it will all be recycled. All the dry materials collected as recyclate are sent to our waste management contractors Materials Recycling Facility (MRF). Here, all the materials that can be recycled are segregated in to individual streams, such as glass, paper, metal, food grade plastics, etc. and they will be transferred on for recycling. Items such as crisp packets, coffee cups and low-grade plastics, which cannot currently be recycled easily, are also segregated and these are diverted to be used as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). Therefore, we do not need general waste bins.
While this approach generally works, we have had some problems in some locations (mainly catering outlets) with liquids and other wet items being placed in the mixed recycling bins. Contamination of the recyclable materials reduces the amounts that can be recovered. Therefore, we are currently trialling a three-bin system (Recyclables, Food and General Waste). This is being trialled at Winchester, but to date it has not proving itself to be better (or worse) than the two-bin system at reducing contamination. This may be down to the local management of the bins and we will be continuing with the trial. If factual evidence is found to show it is more efficient in avoiding contamination and increasing the amounts recycled, we will look at extending the system.
Information about the University’s recycling system is published in the Welcome packs issued to newly arriving students at our Halls of Residence each year and further details can be found here https://www.southampton.ac.uk/estates/what-we-do/waste-and-recycling.page