Monday, March 23, 2015

11 items you may be disposing of incorrectly!

This month's blog post features 11 pesky items that you ponder about each time you go to dispose of them. Are they recyclable? Are they not? Ponder no more!

Container: RECYCLABLE!
Plastic lid: NOT RECYCLABLE!
1. Odwalla Smoothie bottles... ARE recyclable on U-M's campus! This is true for any used or dirty plastic bottle. It is completely acceptable to recycle any plastic bottle, even if it has some residue in it. This is true for Naked Juice, Gatorade, vitaminwater, and plastic water bottles of any brand. The plastic cap for these plastic bottles, however, is NOT recyclable.
2. Coffee cups...
are NOT recyclable on campus! They are made of paper, normally a recyclable material, but the paper that makes up coffee cups is wax-lined and therefore cannot be recycled at our Materials Recovery Facility. 
On the other hand...
3. Coffee cup sleeves
Coffee cup sleeves ARE recyclable on campus! Though, if you can manage to hold your coffee cup without one, consider not using a coffee cup sleeve! That way you won't create any waste, recycled or not!

Container and lid: RECYCLABLE!

4. Starbucks glass 
    frappuccino bottles...
...ARE recyclable on campus! Unlike the Odwalla and other plastic bottle caps, the metal caps to these frappuccino bottles are recyclable.


5. Paper...IS recyclable on campus, of course! I know this seems like an obvious one, but I've seen a number of trash cans around campus with paper in them! Whether ripped out from a spiral notebook, printed from a campus printer, or just loose leaf scrap paper, all paper is recyclable.


6. Pizza boxes
A pizza box, whether it is from Cottage Inn, Pizza House, or Domino's, IS recyclable even if it has some leftover grease or cheese. If your pizza box doesn't fit into a recycling bin on campus, try to remove the lid from the recycling bin, fold up your pizza box, and place the box into the bin. If the pizza box still doesn't fit, place the pizza box next to the recycling bin.

7. Plastic shopping bags...
...are NOT recyclable on the U-M campus! You CAN, however, recycle them at grocery stores like Meijer on Ann Arbor-Saline Road. You can also reuse plastic bags! Target advertises these 10 ways to reuse plastic shopping bags:
I keep all of my plastic bags in my duffel bag and use them as tiny trashcan liners!
Black container: RECYCLABLE!

8. Plastic takeout containers
Plastic takeout containers, such as the containers your delicious No Thai takeout comes in, ARE recyclable on campus! The clear plastic lid is NOT recyclable on campus, however.


9. To-go cream cheese containers
are NOT recyclable on campus. Though most plastics are recyclable on campus, these cream cheese containers are too small to be effectively recycled at the Materials Recovery Facility in Ann Arbor (where all of the University's recycling goes). 


10. Plastic silverware
is NOT recyclable on campus! Their shape makes the Materials Recovery Facility unable to properly sort them. 

And for a limited time only...
11. CLIF bar wrappers

...ARE recyclable for the moment at the Undergraduate Library (UgLi)! This is because the PitE (Program in the Environment) Club has teamed up with Terracycle. Simply place your foil-lined granola, energy, or meal bar wrappers into the Terracycle box at the Undergraduate Library. These items will be recycled or upcycled into another cool product by Terracycle. If you have further questions about this partnership or you would like to get involved, contact For more information about TerraCycle, click here. Congrats to the PitE club on this excellent initiative! Please note that CLIF bar wrappers and other foil-lined bar wrappers are NOT recyclable in regular University recycling bins at the UgLi or elsewhere on campus; you should only recycle your foil-lined bar wrappers in the Terracycle box at the UgLi.

Hopefully this post cleared up any questions you had about these items. However, if reading this has sparked new questions about whether you can recycle certain items, please email any questions to