Plastic-bottle recycling at U increases significantly

Kamariea Forcier

The University community is slowly recycling more plastic bottles since the Midwest Coca-Cola Bottling Co. introduced the new containers to campus three weeks ago.
The University has always recycled plastic products, mainly from used cleaning supplies and Food Services, said Dana Donatucci, University recycling coordinator. But when Coke introduced new vending machines April 15 with 20-ounce bottles, plastic recovery increased significantly.
“Two months ago we may have gotten one trash can full — roughly 30 to 40 bottles a day,” Donatucci said. The volume of Coke product sales is not yet available. But he added, “Now we’re getting closer to 3,000 bottles a day.”
In contrast, as many as 14,000 aluminum cans were collected each day last year.
Kate Hagerty, a student recycling coordinator who answers questions for the University recycling hot line, said she initially received several calls from people who didn’t know where to recycle their bottles on campus.
“They don’t realize that we do recycle the plastics,” Hagerty said, adding that the hot line has not received calls recently. “Either people aren’t caring and are throwing (bottles) in the trash, or they’ve been informed.”
Donatucci said the maroon recycling bins around campus were labeled to collect cans and bottles in hopes that the general terms would cover all the bases for recycling products.
But some people do not associate the term bottle with plastic, Donatucci said.
“It’s a matter of folks getting used to the idea that bottle means plastic as well as glass,” he said.
Apparently, it is not only students who are confused by the bin labels.
Julie Harrington, a night custodian, said students are recycling bottles, but she was shifting the plastic containers into the trash because she misunderstood the bin label.
Delin Qu, custodian operations supervisor, said though many students are recycling, some people just ignore it.
Ignoring the problem does not make sense, said sophomore Tim Mattson, an electrical engineering student.
“For the most part, they’ve got it covered with the three bins,” Mattson said. “You don’t have to go out of your way to find one.”