Out of the landfill: Plastic film recycling launches at Eco U

top-story-bag-compactorAfter emptying out the last flakes from a box of cereal, do you recycle the cardboard box then stare at the plastic liner bag wondering what to do with it? Well, wonder no more! This week, in support of RecycleMania efforts, UW-Green Bay will begin a pilot program with Zeus Recycling to collect and recycle clean, dry, flexible plastic film (#4) from campus and home.

Collection boxes will be placed at about a dozen locations across campus for easy access to this new recycling opportunity. Items you can now recycle include:

  • Plastic grocery bags (of course you don’t have any of these because you bring a reusable shopping bag on your grocery runs!)
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Bread bags
  • Bath tissue wrap
  • Newspaper bags
  • Plastic outer wraps such as from around a case of bottled water (which you aren’t using either because you fill up a reusable water bottle at the tap or hydration stations)
  • Produce bags (clean and dry)
  • Cereal box liners
  • Food storage bags (clean and dry)
  • Pallet wrap
  • Shipping pillows (the larger air-filled cushions, NOT bubble wrap; usually they will have a #4 printed on them)

The plastic film collected will be compressed into an approximate 40 pound bale using a Zeus Recycling baler which the company has graciously lent us for a 60-day trial period. When we have several pallets worth collected, Zeus will pick up and process the plastic into pellets. These pellets are purchased by manufacturers which use them to make next generation plastic products such as plastic decking, kayaks, and more plastic bags. The University will be paid about 4 cents per pound of material recycled, with the payment received going back into student sustainability programs.

Matt Malcore, an Environmental Management and Business Institute (EMBI) intern, is working on the launch of the project, along with Jake Eggert, an employee of Zeus and current graduate student in Environmental Science and Policy. Additional support and helping hands include Felix Pohl, intern for the campus Sustainability Committee, and Eco-Rep Jordan Marty.

Stop by the RecycleMania booth from 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. in the Union (March 3–4) or by the Garden Café (March 5-7) to check out the baler and see how big (or small) a 40 pound bale of compressed plastic film can be.
Story by Laurie Case, Campus Sustainability Coordinator