Published: December 31, 2019
When it comes to recycling the right way, most people may not understand the specific logistics behind the process.
There is a recycling crisis in the United States, says Tim Sullivan, manager of the University of Alabama at Birmingham 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 U.S. does not have the systems to collect and capacity to recycle such large amounts of plastic trash. Consequently, much of it is disposed of in landfills and incinerators, which creates pollution and wastes resources.
Birmingham has only one plant for processing recyclable materials, Birmingham Recycle and Recovery in Avondale, 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 is 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 explains. “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.”
- 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
The UAB Recycling Center accepts these items and is open 7-9 a.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. Monday and Thursday.