Recycling FAQs - Sustainability - Christopher Newport University


Recycling FAQs

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No! We've all heard the age old saying "Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle" - it's in that order for a reason. This is called "Sustainable Materials Management" and the goal is to dispose of unwanted items in the most sustainable way possible.

Right now, our disposal system is focused on the landfill first. Recycling is an important intermediary step for keeping good materials out of the landfill as we work to shift our disposal system toward a more sustainable design.

We have a mixed recycling system where all accepted items can be co-mingled into the same bin. You can tell recycling bins on campus by the "Saturn shaped" opening.

This information is for CNU property only. Your city/municipality may have different guidelines. Always check recycling information when you change locations. For areas in the Hampton Roads, see askHRgreen's recycling guide.

We've also created a "dirty dozen" list of the items most commonly found in recycling bins that should not be there.

While it is technically feasible to recycle almost any plastic, many are not accepted at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) because there is no stable market for that type of plastic. Just like corn, soy, hogs and other products, recyclables are a commodity that is bought and sold on a market where prices fluctuate. If no one is buying a certain kind of plastic, MRFs aren't able to sell it and so they won't accept it. There are many reasons why a plastic may not be marketable or accepted including that it has harmful chemicals and is costly to safely breakdown (#3 and #6), it is of an unknown polymer (#7 - which just means "other") or because it causes problems for the sorting and processing machinery at the MRF (#2 and #4 films).

Right now, the MRF we take recyclables to, TFC, is only accepting #1 and #2 plastics. This is partly due to the (relatively) lower cost of oil recently (most of our plastics are petroleum-based) and partly due to high contamination rates of American recycling that has caused China, our main buyer, to shift what they will accept toward higher quality materials.

Regulated waste contains materials that are hazardous to human and ecosystem health if not handled properly. Regulated waste can include but is not limited to hazardous chemical waste such as lab waste, infectious waste such as used needles or body fluids, and universal waste such as fluorescent tube light bulbs, rechargeable batteries or pesticides.

See the Environmental Health and Safety page for details on properly and safely storing and disposing of these types of waste.

Yes, if the item was purchased with CNU funds, it is technically state property and must be managed through IT (computers and anything with a hard drive) or the warehouse (any item that is not consumable - e.g., paper, pens). Fill out an IT Helpdesk request or a surplus form (warehouse) to dispose of these items.

If it is your personal property, the Media Center in Trible Library has a collection point for some items and the city of Newport News has collection sites. See our Special Recyling Flier for more information.

This is a common rumor and the short answer is "yes," but not for the reason you think.

Recyclables are collected in clear bags so staff can see inside them to check for items that shouldn't be there. Often, these clear bags are transported inside a single rolling cart but separated from the black landfill-bound bags. This makes it appear as if the recyclables are being "thrown away," but they are separated when removed from the building and placed in separate dumpsters.

Another purpose for the clear bags is so housekeeping can identify contaminants in the recycling by quickly glancing at the contents. The global recycling market has a very low tolerance right now for recycling contamination (food and liquids, plastics that aren't accepted, etc) so it is very important to send clean recycling to our MRF. If users have placed contaminants in the recycling, the Office for Sustainability has instructed them to throw it away because it will harm the recycling industry.

No. Many companies add the recycling symbol or the message to "please recycle" to their packaging as a marketing tool to make it appear as if they promote recycling when, in fact, their materials are not recyclable. Don't rely solely on packaging to determine if it's recyclable.

However, is working to standardize packaging labels so that recycling instructions are clearly, and accurately communicated to the public. Look for their labeling to help guide you to determine the recyclability of your items.

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