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Northwestern University adopts "mixed recycling"

Northwestern University adopts "mixed recycling"

Changes mean that all standard recyclables may be placed in the same bin.

Northwestern University has begun changing its recycling operation as it tries to reduce waste to landfill by 20 percent over the next four years.

The Evanston, Ill.-based university says it has switched from dual-stream recycling to single “mixed recycling,” in which paper and cardboard are collected with cans, bottles and plastics in the same recycling bin.

“This change will make recycling more convenient for campus participants, potentially pushing our recycling rate higher. It will also streamline recycling bin needs and make collections easier,” says Julie Cahillane, a manager in the Office of Sustainability. “We want to make recycling effective and easy for the Northwestern community.”

The school will change receptacles in most common areas of its campus locations in Evanston and Chicago by the end of April. The rollout involves updating labeling, replacing bin lids and training for campus custodians and the greater community on the changes.

The revised collection method will bring Northwestern in line with residential recycling practices in Evanston and Chicago.

By combining metals, plastics and paper products in the recycling process, Northwestern aims to have a more balanced landfill-to-recycle ratio by 2020. Last year the university recycled more than 2,600 tons, 39 percent of its total waste. In 2010 only 28 percent of waste was recycled.

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