9 items you can recycle easily on campus

Written by 

Recycling handout 2019 1 insideClick to enlargeWant to make an environmental difference in a single second? Choose to recycle a drink can rather than trash it; that’s a quick and easy way to be more sustainable. And UAB Recycling makes it easy.

It’s a small ask with large implications.

There’s a recycling crisis in the United States, says Tim Sullivan, manager of Facilities Support Services, which oversees UAB Recycling. China’s recycling businesses stopped purchasing millions of tons of America’s plastic waste in early 2018, and the United States does not have the systems to collect and capacity to recycle such large amounts of plastic trash. Consequently, much of it is disposed in landfills and incinerators, which creates pollution and wastes resources.

Birmingham only has one plant for processing recyclable materials, Avondale’s Birmingham Recycle and Recovery (BRR), and UAB Recycling is a collection point for that plant. Because both the campus recycling bins and the drop-off center collect a large volume of recyclables, Sullivan says, it’s important to recycle only those items BRR accepts.

“When nonrecyclable items are thrown into UAB’s recycling bins, it dirties up what we refer to as ‘the stream,’” Sullivan explained. “It keeps waste from being sorted and recycled properly, which can lead to perfectly recyclable materials inadvertently being sent to landfills or to be burnt. That means more wasted plastic on land and in our oceans.”

There’s no better time to start recycling responsibly than on Keep America Beautiful’s America Recycles Day Nov. 15; take the #BeRecycled pledge online and commit to reduce, reuse, recycle and buy recycled products.

What does UAB recycle?

Drop off the following items in the bins located around campus or at the UAB Recycling Center, open 7-9 a.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. Monday and Thursday:

  • No. 1 plastic, which includes water and soft drink bottles
  • Office paper of any color
  • Newspapers
  • Non-food-contaminated flattened cardboard boxes
  • Magazines
  • Non-food-contaminated paper items such as paper bags, mail, envelopes and folders
  • Aluminum cans

Take these items to the UAB Recycling Center only:

  • Rinsed steel food cans
  • Used cooking oil and grease

Most building recycling bins are emptied on a scheduled basis; call 934-WORK or submit a work order at uab.edu/facilities to have full bins emptied sooner.

Recycle today, change tomorrow

Together, UAB Recycling and UAB Sustainability are working to keep plastic trash from polluting the state and region; UAB Sustainability’s Strategic Plan aims to reduce disposal of waste in local landfills and develop the university grounds for ecological stewardship. Continuing to invest in recycling also boosts the state’s economy; a 2016 study revealed that recycling in Alabama accounts for more than 32,000 jobs.

The first and most important step in supporting the recycling industry in both Birmingham and Alabama, Sullivan said, is making sure the correct items are being recycled responsibly. There is much opportunity for improvement, he says; the same report revealed that Alabama only recycles approximately 16% of potentially recyclable materials, compared to the national average of 34%.

Get involved

Are you passionate about sustainability?

Are you passionate about sustainability?

Become a Sustainability Ambassador and promote sustainable ventures to your colleagues and help implement educational programming tailored to your unit.

See requirements online and email sustainability@uab.edu to express interest or nominate a colleague.
How green is your lab?

How green is your lab?

Enroll your lab in the UAB Green Labs Program to reduce the use of energy, water, material goods and hazardous chemicals in UAB laboratories without compromising research integrity or safety. UAB Sustainability sponsors programs that make Green Lab recommendations easy to implement, such as lab recycling and glove recycling.

Learn more about enrollment online.
How green is your office?

How green is your office?

The UAB Green Office Program can help employees identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption and waste and be better stewards of fiscal and environmental resources on campus.

Download the checklist, work with your colleagues to complete all responses and email the finished document to greenoffice@uab.edu to get started.

Read more:

Curious about UAB Sustainability's other plans for campus?

Curious about UAB Sustainability's other plans for campus?

Learn more about the strategic plan to make UAB a sustainability powerhouse by 2025.

Read more

An undergrad’s 5-step plan to change the world, from trailer park to United Nations

An undergrad’s 5-step plan to change the world, from trailer park to United Nations

UAB Sustainability intern Abigail Franks has a message: Renewable energy has a bright future in Alabama. Some big names are listening, from UAB to City Hall and across the country.

Read more