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Changes to Bins and Miscellaneous Plastics Recycling

Changes to Bins and Miscellaneous Plastics Recycling

Sorting Station Bin Changes & Miscellaneous Plastics at the University Park campus

Beginning in Fall 2019, there have been two changes to the recycling stations at University Park:

1.    The word “film” has been deleted from the plastic bottle sign, along with the film images (plastic bags, etc.) 

2.    The miscellaneous plastics bin is now lined with a black bag instead of clear. Bin bag colors indicate where the contents are headed: green for compost, clear for recycling markets and black for landfill.


Why are these changes needed

These changes are needed to improve the quality of the recycled products we send to the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority (CCRRA). Municipalities across the nation are making similar changes because manufacturers that buy the collected recyclables need specific types of uncontaminated materials to make new quality products that we buy such as clothing, packaged food and drinks, etc.

Why are plastic bags no longer being recycled

Since CCRRA is receiving plastic bags with a very high level of contamination and are therefore not suitable for market, Penn State will no longer be collecting plastic bags in our recycling stations. This means the plastic bottles bin will now be used for only plastic bottles, jugs and jars.  Plastic bottles are items that have a top narrower than the bottom, including: 

·       All empty plastic bottles 

·       Empty jugs such as clothes detergent bottles

·       Empty jars like peanut butter and pickles

Items that contained food need to be empty and free of food remnants to be recycled. Peanut butter jars do not need to be completely free of peanut butter, just scraped out and rinsed if possible.

Why are miscellaneous plastics no longer being recycled

Miscellaneous plastics are currently not able to be recycled due to the lack of demand for these recycled items in the recycling market. The bin will be lined with a black bag, indicating its contents are going to the landfill. This will hopefully reduce contamination levels of the other bins and help reduce contamination fees. 

Thank you for your help with reducing our recycling contamination rates. In the coming year, new signs will be installed and the Waste Stream Task Force is currently investigating other facility improvements to help make sorting easier. 

We can all help improve our recycling efforts at Penn State by taking the following steps:

  1. Place only clean and empty plastic bottles, jugs, and jars in the designated bin to reduce contamination rates.
  2. Reduce  your use of miscellaneous plastics by using reusable containers, especially coffee and drink cups. Most vendors on campus offer a .25 discount when you use your own cup, which can result in big savings every year!


3. Share this information with your peers, and contact with any questions.

If you have questions

There are several ways to find out more information about sorting: 

•      Visit the recycling website which has details on ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. 

•      E-mail with questions

•      If you would like a presentation to your building occupants about sorting, please complete this form. Presentations will be provided to groups of 20 or more.