Trinity College uses single-stream recycling, the easiest and most convenient way to recycle. All recyclables go in the same container—paper, plastic, glass, and metal. The advantages are clear: no need to sort different materials, one kind of recycling bin, and less work for everyone. Yet the recycling rate at Trinity has been stuck at 10% for the past several years. This falls well below the national average of 30% and behind several other college and universities. This semester, many different people, groups, and departments are coming together to increase signage, bin placement, and education across campus. The new focus on recycling aims to raise the recycling rate to 25%, but it will require working with everyone on campus to make it a success.
Many people have questions about how to recycle at Trinity. Single stream recycling should make this easier, as all paper, glass, plastic, and metal recyclable products can go in the same recycling container. They are sorted mechanically and by hand at the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority sorting facility.
Recyclable in single-stream recycling: Plastics: labeled #1-7, clean and dry, Metal: aluminum cans, metal clothes hangers, office supplies, etc. Glass bottles with lids off, glass jars, etc. Paper: printer paper, cardstock, folders, envelopes with windows, magazines, paperback books, cardboard. Not recyclable: Trash (wrappers, chip bags, packaging, gum, etc.), food, bottle tops, plastic bags, styrofoam.
Many people who are used to sorting their paper from plastics and cans are surprised to learn they no longer need to do this. Old signage and recycling bin tops that have paper slits or can holes can add to the confusion. However, with single stream recycling the type of lid is not important. Despite the fact that the Trinity community no longer has to sort paper from plastic, keeping the lids on recycling bins helps prevent people from contaminating the recycling with trash.
Another concern about recycling on campus is the process of removing the recycling from bins and brining it to the CRRA recycling facility. Trinity’s Custodial staff, in partnership with ARAMARK, is trained to bring recycling bags to the school’s loading docks, where they are transported to the CRRA facility. Clear bags identify recycling and black bags identify trash, so custodians and groundskeepers can sort the bags even if they are in a cart or on a loading dock together. Keeping recycling in clear bags also helps the custodians and groundskeepers check the recycling for contamination by food and trash. If there is trash in the recycling bag, they have to put everything in with the trash. Since trash contamination jeopardizes recycling, it is vital that everyone on campus learn what is recyclable.
Finally, insight from all over campus will make the recycling program successful. Faculty, staff, and students who are aware of an area that needs a recycling bin should request at facilities.trincoll.edu. In addition, they are welcome to bring in a recycling bin from home or to make a temporary recycling bin out of a box that is labeled and lined with a clear bag. Faculty, Staff and students should mention any new recycling boxes to the custodian in the area to get clear bags and to make sure they know it is not trash. People with questions about recycling, or ideas on how to improve recycling in their area may contact Kira Sargent (firstname.lastname@example.org), an Environmental Sustainability Intern with ARAMARK at Trinity.