Monday, May 3, 2010

Recycling in Syracuse

The idea of recycling is pretty easy. Students like Angela Laurello, a sophomore at Syracuse University, like to think that they are making a difference by throwing away their used containers into recycling bins. However, Associate Director of Sustainability at Syracuse University Steve Lloyd says people are often misled as to what can actually be recycled.

"Anything that's plastic that's one or two but is called stackable or crackable like yogurt containers are not recyclable," says Lloyd. He says plastic bottles will contain a number that determines whether or not the material can be recycled, and most of the time, they are not.

Research assistant and director of the Green Campus Initiative group at the School of Environmental Science and Forestry Justin Heavey explains that this is because most products are made to be used only once.

"They're not really designed to be used and then broken down again so I think some industries are moving towards starting with better products."

So people like Laurello who think they are making a difference are really only adding to the waste stream. Where do these cups end up?"

"Trash," says Lloyd.

A recent trash audit done by members of the Green Campus Initiative program at SUNY-ESF found nearly 500 papers cups over the course of one day in the trash, all which Heavey says will end up in landfills.

"Two thirds of what was in there was in fact trash but there was still one third that could have been composted or recycled both of which we have facilities for on campus," says Heavey.

The audit proves that SUNY-E-S-F students are still unsure of just what is and is not recycleable. However, Heavey says the real initiative should be a change to using more re-useable products, rather than just recycling.

"And I'm a big proponent on things that can be reused because even when you recycle you're eating or dinking out of something that was made for one use and then to use it again it has to be melted down and into another product so you're adding energy and other products and water and pollution just to recycle that into something else when you could be using a sturdier product."

Hear the whole story here.

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