Coffee cups are contaminating recycling


recycling 3/10

Even though plastic or paper coffee cups are placed in the recycling bins, this does not make it recyclable, and actually contaminates several other items. BGSU has recycling containers located all throughout campus, and this makes recycling easily accessible, but there are extra steps needed to take recycling to a fulfilling level.

Plastic or paper coffee cups from Starbucks or Dunkin’ are not recyclable. Even rinsing the cup does not make it recyclable.

According to BGSU’s Office of Campus Sustainability, anyone can check if a plastic bottle or cup is recyclable by locating a number; specifically one through seven making it recyclable within the recycling symbol. Coffee cups do not have the recycling symbol on them; let alone a number 1-7 on it.

Furthermore, Campus Sustainability further notes, “No cups, no produce containers, lids, or straws of any kind.”

There are options to reduce trash contaminating recycling and it’s by using a reusable cup. Starbucks and Dunkin’ advertise and sell cups specifically to help reduce waste. Also, mugs are a valid option for having a drink in, instead of a plastic or paper coffee cup.

According to Campus Sustainability, all recyclable items must be “emptied, rinsed and cleaned of food waste.” This is an important step that is overlooked as food contamination is damaging other items in recycling.

Recyclable items include, cardboard, paper, aluminum beverage or steel cans, plastic bottles, newspapers or magazines and glass. Non-recyclable items include food containers, napkins, cups, food bags or wrappers and condiment cups.

If unsure of any items, Campus Sustainability has a column titled “Recycling and Waste Reduction,” with a sub-category labeled “Single-Stream Recycling Initiative” that fully labels and goes into detail about recyclable and non-recyclable items. Also, if the item has come into contact with food, the chances of it being recyclable still are unlikely.

Reusing cups and containers is a simple way to reduce waste. As recyclable items must be washed and cleaned of any food waste, only certain products are made of materials that make it recyclable. Labels should suggest whether or not an item is recyclable or not, but if not, Campus Sustainability holds accessible information through the web that provides details on how to recycle.