UAB Recycling makes it easy.Want 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
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
- Non-food-contaminated flattened cardboard boxes
- 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
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%.
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