Category Archives: Plastics

Lift The Lid!

You’re finishing up a great cup of coffee from the rez, and, being a responsible student, go to recycle it. But wait – what? This coffee cup doesn’t fit easily into the hole in the paper recycling bin! And what to do with the lid?! Breathe. Don’t give up. Lift the lid. (Well, both lids.)

Let’s see this in action.

First, take the lid off the coffee cup and put it in the plastic recycling bin. Ok? Next step.

lift the lid

Now you’re left with the paper coffee cup. You know it goes in the paper recycling bin…but how? The hole on the top is definitely not shaped to fit a cup like this. But here’s a simple solution: Lift the Lid!

Yes, the bin lids can sometimes be confusing, but for the most part, they help people around campus understand the majority of things that are supposed to go in them. Glass bottles, cans, plastic soda bottles, and other cylindrical things go in the glass, metal plastics bin (green), paper shaped things in the paper bin (blue)…Unless it’s a coffee cup…But just lift the lid! Don’t give up and throw it in the trash.

Ok – I know the trash bins right next to the rez pose another conundrum. Rectangular hole? Cylindrical cup? No lid to lift? Wha??? I’ve seen waaaay too many people shut down when they see this and throw the cup into the trash hole. But no no no! Here’s an easy photographic tutorial of how to responsibly say goodbye to your coffee cup.

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Got it? One last thing – If you had a regular coffee without any foam or steamed milk, you’re good. However, if you’re more of a latte or mocha person, please try to rinse your cup out quickly before recycling it to get the extra goo off the sides.

Now put this info into use and tell all your friends to LIFT THE LID!

Big thank you to the lovely models and responsible citizens Nic Serhan and Paul Collins
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From yogurt cups to drinking cups

Need new back-to-school items for your dorm? How about ones made from recycled yogurt cups? Get your complete 100% recycled kitchen and dinnerware such as bowls, strainers, cutting boards, storage containers, cups, plates and more at Preserve. You can even donate your #5 plastics that many cities will not take at locations throughout Massachusetts and elsewhere. Preserve also has recycled toothbrushes in which its packaging doubles up as a return envelope to mail back your toothbrush once you’re finished with it to be recycled again. Learn more about who they are and the products they offer at their website. Very cool!
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Boat Of Plastic Bottles Ends 4-Month Pacific Sail

“There were many times when people looked at us and said, ‘you’re crazy,’”… “I think it drove us on to say, ‘Anything’s possible.’”

Click here to read the Associated Press article about the ship’s adventure.


The Plastiki’s website is full of information including videos, a meet the crew page and an interactive feature to explore the boat.

Thanks to alumna Yosefa Ehrlich for sharing this story. We miss you, Yosefa!

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Bottle Caps

Here at Tufts, everyone is really getting good about recycling. Whether it’s been spurred on by RecycleMania, by a newfound eco-conscience, or by the realization that “matter can neither be created nor destroyed” has real world applications outside the science classroom, the rate of recycling at Tufts is appreciated. It seems we’re doing all we can to help the environment, but what of the recycling companies we trust to do all they can? Well, it turns out we might have to take that extra step to make up for their slack or lack of altruism regarding plastics recycling. If your local recycling does not accept #5 plastics, that means it doesn’t want any of the tops to your plastic bottles. These tops are made out of a different type of plastic than the bottle itself, and this plastic is much less valuable than PET, the plastic used for the bottles. This less valuable plastic also has a much higher melting temperature than PET (plastic #1), making it much more energy intensive to recycle.

So what can you do?

If your recycling company sorts out #5 plastics:
Unscrew your bottle caps before putting them in your recycling bin so that they do not stay mixed in with the #1 plastics and ruin a batch of melted plastic.

If you know your recycler does not take #5 plastics:
Simply throw these caps in the trash. As a recycling intern, I do not condone this and suggest that you should not either, but it does prevent the caps from ruining #1 plastics.

Find another way to recycle the caps! Companies such as Whole Foods, working with Preserve (in partnership with Brita and Stonyfield Organic), and Aveda will gladly take your #5 plastics in order to recycle them on their own. This way, your bottle tops can live out their days as some lucky person’s razor, measuring cup, or toothbrush, instead of foiling some batch of #1 plastics or languishing in a landfill somewhere.

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Plastic Bags

According to EPA, the global annual consumption of plastic bags is 500 billion to 1 trillion. What’s even worse is that less than 1% of these bags are recycled! Click on the link below to see the effects of plastic bags consumption and the failure to recycle these bags.
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Please Drink Responsibly

Did you know that more than 4 billion pounds of plastic bottles end up in landfills or as roadside litter annually? Or that producing bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water required more than 17 million barrels of oil last year – enough fuel for more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year – and generated more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide? These were some of the shocking points discussed during the World Water Challenge held today by the Think Outside the Bottle initiative at Tufts. Tufts Recycles! warmly welcomes TOTB and hopes to work together in efforts to reduce overall consumption by not drinking bottled water, reuse resources by promoting Nalgenes, and encourage those who do use water bottles to properly recycle them.
Think Outside The Bottle is screening Thirst at 9:50pm, 11/7/07 in the Terrace Room. All are welcome.
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Paper vs. Plastic?

Are you really still wondering?

Read The Washington Post’s report that reuse is best.

Tip – if you forget to bring bags on your next trip to buy groceries, just grab some from the plastic bag recycling bin. Most grocery stores have one near the check out.
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Stick-Free Packaging – A Ketchup Lover’s Dream

Let me set the scene…You are shaking a bottle of ketchup for the last drops when a disturbing farting noise ruins your appetite, not to mention your popularity. We’ve all been there. Not only can these sticky condiments be embarrassing, but they also pose problems for plastics recyclers. According to Sciencedaily.com (full article here), researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV are working with Munich University of Technology to develop non-stick packaging. In three years time you may never have to shake, tap or beat the bottle to get the last drops because it will slide right out.  Sounds like progress.
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Recycling at Move In=No Joke

A huge thanks to our beloved custodians for recycling during move-in this year! From breaking down boxes, removing trash, and collecting cardboard from all 40 residential buildings – not to mention during high temperatures – our crew did an amazing job. Twenty eight tons of paper and cardboard were collected during the first week of Tufts move-in. On Labor Day alone, 9.6 tons were collected! Thank you so much for your assistance this year; you all worked extremely hard to fulfill recycling obligations and have made Tufts very proud!
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