At Iowa State University we use Single Stream Recycling. You can place your recycle materials (paper, plastic, metal and glass) into any blue recycling bin or Solar Compactor.
In the Residence Halls
Recycling in the Residential halls is voluntary. To get started, speak with your floor RA and they will get you a recycling bin.
Collect your materials in this bin. Please note if you use a plastic bag to collect your materials, the bag is not recyclable and will need to be ripped or dumped. DO NOT put bagged recycling in dumpsters. This creates a "tangling" at the MRF (Material Recovery Facility; "Murph"). Instead collect your recyclables in a box then you can send it all the recyclables and box to the MRF.
Recycling is picked up at Iowa State University weekly on Tuesdays.
In the City of Ames
While many apartments don't practice recycling you can inquire with your landlord to see if they might. In Ames this is an extra cost many landlords are not interested in taking on. The Ames Resource Recovery recycles Glass and Metals, while the paper and plastic are shredded and sent to the Electric plant to make energy to power Ames. This is step is called Recovery and is step four of the five step Waste Hierarchy.
What can I recycle?
On Iowa State Campus we recycle paper (all colors and textures), plastics* (if the lids twist off, it is recyclable), metals* and glass*. (* please make sure to rinse and dry items). In the labs, lab glass is collected separately for safety.
Cardboard is also collected for recycling, please place cardboard into separate bins marked CARDBOARD ONLY.
What happens to my trash?
If you recycle your recyclables, they are collected by Waste Management in a green garbage truck on Tuesday Mornings. This truck is then driven down to Des Moines where they unload the recyclables at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF "Murph"). Once there, the material is separated out via conveyor belts to be sent to baling equipment and sent to plants to be repurposed or remade into new products.
If you put your waste in the waste bin, it is taken by Campus Services (a brown garbage truck) to Ames Resource Recovery Plant, where it is sorted for glass and metal, then shredded and sent underground to the Ames Electrical plant where they will incinerate the waste and make power from it.
Sometimes the waste is sent directly to the Boone County Landfill where it will be buried in the ground, tightly packed and no chance of decomposition for many generations.
Why is it important to recycle?
Recycling is the third option to what is best when we talk about waste and waste management. Here are the steps to good waste management practice.
Reduce. If we could reduce both our consumption of materials, and our desires to have said materials, we would reduce the need for waste in our communities. Instead of using plastic service ware and paper plates, purchase some reusable/washable plates and silverware. By reducing your purchase of disposable items, you have already started to empty the landfill.
Reuse. If instead of throwing paper away that has been printed on the first side, but has a blank back side... by reusing the back side you now have saved two sheet by using one. If we could reuse the plastic bread tags that hold the bread bag shut, or the paper towel tubes that are inside the roll of paper towel, we are reducing the landfill by steps just by reusing our materials.
If we can't reduce, or reuse, then we should recycle.
If we can't recycle, we should practice recovery (that's what Ames Resource Recovery does).
Finally, our last resort, if we can't find any use for Styrofoam cups then these need to go to the landfill. Again, remembering that we are filling the earth vault, with unwanted items.
How can I help reduce waste more?
Use your influence. If you see someone not recycling, KINDLY, ask them why they don't recycle. If you see items that could be recycled but aren't find ways to recycle them (talk to the recycling guy, Steve).
If you have a chance to help a department or group of people, make recycling a priority help them out. It takes all of us to do our part to help minimize the waste going to the landfill.
If you want to do more, be part of the Recycling Team, or the Zero Waste Team and together, let's make a difference.