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Mixed Recycling

As of February 15, 2016 Northwestern is collecting recycling in one mix. That means that all standard recyclables (paper, cardboard, cans, glass, and plastic) can be placed in the same recycling bin. Click here for details on what you can recycle.

One of Northwestern’s sustainability goals is to achieve a 20 percent reduction in waste to landfill by 2020. Increasing our diversion rate, which is currently 39 percent, through improved recycling is a key initiative that will help achieve this goal.

Northwestern has made the decision to switch from dual-stream recycling collection to combined, or “mixed recycling,” collection because studies suggest that this will increase collection rates. In addition, collecting paper and cardboard together with cans, glass, and plastics will bring us in line with residential recycling practices in the Cities of Chicago and Evanston.

We maintained dual-stream recycling over the past years to support the collection of clean, high-grade office paper. However, the industry has fine-tuned mixed recycling systems and improved the ability to separate clean recyclables. This makes it a good time to switch to mixed recycling in order to simplify the recycling process.

As we make this change, we will continue to use existing recycling bins in most locations but will replace the lids and labels to highlight the new collection practice. This switch will begin happening over the next few months and will be accompanied by communications and training for our custodians and the Northwestern community. We will update bins and labels in public and high traffic spaces first, then work with building occupants to address restricted and more private areas. We expect to update common areas to reflect the new program by the end of April, 2016.

Keep in mind that during this transition, recycling collection will continue in all facilities, so those on campus should continue to make use of recycling bins. The only difference will be that it will no longer be necessary to keep paper and cardboard separate from plastic, glass, and cans.

To request new recycling labels or bins, please contact sustainNU at recycling@northwestern.edu or 847-467-1374.

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