Thursday, May 31, 2012

Single Stream Recycling @ Michigan: Pesky #3 Plastic

       I came across this article on ( that details the different numbered plastics and basically explains what each one means.  I thought it would be helpful to outline how this article fits into recycling here at Michigan and clarify some frequently asked questions about single stream recycling.  On the Ann Arbor campus, single stream recycling means that there is no sorting and all recyclables can be placed in to the same bin - excluding #3 plastics, styrofoam, plastic bags, batteries, napkins, paper cups/plates, lightbulbs, ceramics, and tissue paper/products.  While some of these "unacceptables" are easier to identify then others, #3 PVCs (or Polyvinyl Chlorides) are not readily identifiable by many.  So here's the breakdown:

       PVC = Polyvinyl Chloride and probably better known to many as the soft plastic in clear plastic food wrap, children's and pet's toys, and blister packaging (as seen in the following photos).

        PVC is also used for plumbing, as in the common item of white PVC pipe that many know.  PVC is widely used in construction because it is durable, cheap, and easily worked. 

        The problem with this #3 plastic becomes clear in its nickname the "poison plastic", with numerous toxins contained within it.  The incineration of PVC can release carbon dioxide and cadmium into the environment, and yet products using PVC plastic are not recyclable.  In order to divert some PVC waste from the landfill, the reuse and repurposing of PVC is encouraged (though not for food or children's use).  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recycling Made Easy

      For some, recycling can be confusing.  A common dilemma we face after finishing a meal outside of our homes is: Trash v. Recycling.  It may seem trivial, but I even find myself headed towards a trash/recycling station - out to eat at a seat-yourself type restaurant or in a coffee shop - thinking about where the scraps of my meal should go.  What is acceptable to recycle?  Will I do more harm by placing an item in the recycling that does not belong?  For this very reason, signage and proper dissemination of information about the type of recycling available in town, and on campus, is extremely important to the cause of recycling.  It may seem like a hassle to those that are confused, but believe it or not, it can be quite easy if you know what you are doing.
     The University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor is not exempt from the confusion that follows recycling.  Only less than two years ago, the University followed the town it resides in in implementing single stream recycling, (  This switch would make it much easier to recycle without hassle, because essentially, there would be no sorting within recyclables for the consumer.  The only speed bump in the switch to single stream would be proper circulation of information about the new recycling process on campus.  Ultimately, it takes both strategic placement of new, labeled bins, as well as flyering about single stream recycling to get active involvement from the University community.  Here's some photos of how the University of Michigan makes recycling easy:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Recycle Write!

We're committed to ALL kinds of recycling here at Michigan, including recycling old writing utensils and materials for a good cause.  RecycleWrite! is a unique program that offers $.02 for each recycled item as a donation to Mott Children's Hospital.  Do your part and set up a collection box at your home or office!

UM Green Clean

     UM Recycling was part of the Planet Blue event on Friday, May 18th at the Ross Business School "Open House" to promote green initiatives and education. Along with other tables set up to inform participants on energy use and sustainability on the Ann Arbor campus, UM recycling took a role in promoting Single Stream Recycling at the event. You can read the full description of the event here at:

     Keep an eye out in future posts for some great photos taken at the event!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spread the Word!

Recycling here at the University of Michigan is all about being visible and getting the word out. We strive to better our campus and our planet, and to do that, we have to be public and known. Our newest social media addition, feeding insights on recycling news as well as campus recycling events and cool news about how Ann Arbor is going green, is this blog! We'll keep you updated and interested with pictures, news, insights, and more. Let us know what we can do on the University of Michigan campus to make recycling more effective and to make it better known! Follow us on Twitter for more abbreviated versions of these posts at @UmichRecycling!