Recycling at Ball State

by
Dr. John Vann, Department of Marketing
Green Initiatives Coordinator
September 2002

Here's a question that many of us have asked:  "Does the stuff that I put in the recycling containers at Ball State really get recycled?"  The answer is yes . . . and no.

The system is in place!

Ball State Custodians separately collect materials from recycling and non-recycling containers.  These materials are put into separate dumpsters outside our buildings.  Ball State University has a contract with Republic Industries who sends separate (but visually indistinguishable) trucks to collect materials from our recycling and non-recycling dumpsters and takes them to their facilities throughout east-central Indiana.  So far, so good.  Here's the rub.  If a recycling load is contaminated with too much non-recyclable material, it is rejected and sent to the landfill.

Once the material goes into the dumpsters, it is literally and figuratively out of our hands. Our responsibility is at the beginning of the system.  Users (we) must separate recyclables from non-recyclables at the time of disposal and custodians must keep those materials separate as they are placed into the dumpsters.  While it is true that Ball State has what is called a co-mingled system, materials that are co-mingled for recycling must all be recyclable.  There is no provision in the system for later separation -- mixing up front means rejection at the end. Separation requires knowledge and motivation.

So, what may be recycled?  Empty metal, plastic, and glass containers may be recycled.  Remove the caps from drink bottles.  Un-coated (non-glossy) paper, cardboard, unbroken glass, and numbers 1 and 2 plastics are also accepted. 

Materials that may not be recycled include glossy, coated paper (magazines), acetate overheads, food, liquids (including partially full drink containers), tissues and paper towels, and plastic not labeled 1 or 2.  The recycling symbol on the bottom of plastic containers doesn't necessarily mean that the containers are recyclable.  For example, yogurt containers have the symbol surrounding the number 5.  Unfortunately, #5 plastic is not recyclable. 
Recyclables to remember are:  empty containers of metal, plastic (#'s 1 & 2), or unbroken glass (without caps); un-coated (non-glossy) paper; and cardboard.