“Contamination in the waste stream is one of the biggest issues we are working to improve within the Virginia Tech community. The facility tour really highlighted the need for clear labeling on our recycling containers, self-contained flexible plastic recycling bins, and more consumer education. We learned that machines can be down for hours due to recycling contamination,” said Madison Norman, a sophomore majoring in environmental conservation and society at the College of Natural Resources and Environment and leader of the student intern team in waste management.
“The new bins collect everything – grocery bags, bubble wrap, newspaper sleeves, produce bags, Ziploc bags, cereal bags – just a lot more plastic than is currently able to go to the RDS facility. . People think you can recycle any plastic in a single bin, when in reality you can’t. We are now able to collect more of these plastics and recycle them, which we could not do before,” added Norman.
“We are also currently working closely with Emily Vollmer, Sustainability Coordinator, to create a Label Log, reviewing college buildings on campus and identifying if their bins have updated stickers for recycling or are out of order. they’re outdated, hard to read, scratched.–– something like that. We’re dealing with contamination in the waste stream and seeing how we can reduce that on campus to better help the RDS facility. If recycled material has a certain amount of contamination in every ton of recycled material, then it can’t be used, which defeats the purpose of recycling some products,” Norman said.