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Recycling FAQ

Campus-wide recycling collection is currently suspended. We've outlined the answers to a few commonly asked questions about recycling. Please contact ssc@uidaho.edu for more information.

Recycling FAQ

A brief explanation of the recycling program changes can be found on the University of Idaho’s Surplus/Solid Waste website:

"Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university’s adjusted operational schedule, and closure to the public at large, the plan to eliminate the Interior Recycling Program permanently at the Moscow campus has been moved up from July 1, 2020 to April 27, 2020. Market conditions of the past 2 years and ongoing contamination issues with the recycling product stream at U of I and worldwide have greatly reduced the number of acceptable products allowed and has made most product recycling significantly more expensive than putting these materials directly into the solid waste stream.

With permanent budget and staffing reductions, undertaken in response to the university's budget challenges, we can no longer sustain this program. Interior recycling bins from across campus will be removed from all buildings, and no interior pickups will be offered for recycled materials. These materials should be placed in the solid waste stream from this point forward. If you are interested in doing your own personal recycling, you may take items directly to Moscow Recycling. Bins will be available for purchase from Campus Surplus for departmental or personal use for either self-recycling or general storage… but pickup services from Surplus/Solid Waste staff will no longer be provided.

Because of ongoing contamination issues, materials collected in the oval exterior recycling bins around the Moscow campus will be treated as solid waste from this point forward as well. Recycling programs that will continue are Metal Recycling, E-Waste Recycling and Exterior Cardboard Recycling. We regret the loss of the Interior Recycling Program but financial and market considerations have made this program unsustainable.”

Moscow Recycling is a self-sorting center open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The center is located at 401 N Jackson Street in Moscow. Moscow Recycling provides multiple collection bins for the following items:

  • Mixed Paper
  • Cardboard and Browns
  • #1 and #2 Plastics
  • Aluminum cans
  • Tin cans
  • Glass
  • Magazines and Newspaper

Other materials such as copy paper, scrap metal, books, and many others are accepted by Moscow Recycling during their daily operating hours 8:00am-4:00pm.
The Sustainability Center has made a comprehensive video explaining which materials are recyclable in Latah County and how to limit contamination.

Go Recycle! An Educational Recycling Video by UISC - YouTube

The restrictions on materials accepted is explained well on the Moscow Recycling website. Here is the explanation they provided:

"In July 2017, the global recycling market started to change. China, who previously served as the end market for roughly half of the world ’s recyclables, stopped accepting the world’s recycling. The Chinese government imposed new regulations known as “National Sword 2017” and “Blue Sky 2018” which restricted the import of low grade and contaminated recyclables. These restrictions have caused worldwide impacts on recycling. Ultimately, these regulations caused a dramatic flood to the domestic market in the United States. Domestic processors do not have the capability or infrastructure to handle the excess tonnage of low-grade materials which are no longer being accepted by China. Due to these global changes, the City of Moscow, at the discretion of City Council, decided to eliminate some low-grade materials previously accepted in the City curbside mixed recycling program. The goal was to ensure that everything put into recycling totes was ultimately being recycled. So, beginning in October 2018, the City of Moscow scaled back the list of items that were accepted in the curbside mixed recycling program."

There are two different ways to recycle, single stream and multi-stream. Multi-stream requires different materials to be collected in separate bins, while single stream recycling allows many different materials to be collected in the same bin. Moscow Recycling accepts both, but which one is appropriate is decided by what collection method you are using. Curbside totes are single stream, while the self-sorting bins at the center are multi-stream.

Single stream recycling is beneficial because it makes recycling more accessible and (in theory) reduces the costs of collection. The downside to single stream is the limitations on materials accepted and the high likelihood of contamination often makes collection more expensive. Multi-stream recycling accepts a broader range of materials and typically has lower contamination percentages but is labor intensive and can cost more to collect.

After the materials are separated and bailed by Moscow Recycling, they are sent to various mills around the Northwest to be turned into new materials. Moscow Recycling tries to keep the materials within the Northwest to eliminate long, carbon-intense travel.

The locations of where the materials go are listed below:

  • Cardboard: Tacoma or Port Townsend WA
  • Mixed Paper: Tacoma or Sacramento CA
  • Glass: Latah Sanitation for aggregate for cement/asphalt
  • Newspaper: Spokane WA
  • Plastics: Spokane WA
  • Aluminum: Lewiston ID (rare, but some material can be sent to Kentucky)
  • Plastic film: Seattle WA

These mills each have unique processes that they use to turn the used materials into new products.

More information about recycling in the U.S can be found at www.epa.gov/americarecycles/us-recycling-system

The first step to improving campus recycling is increasing environmental literacy. Knowing which materials are accepted and promoting consciousness while disposing of our waste will greatly improve our efforts. Even minimal contamination can cause an entire load of recyclables to be brought to the landfill. By using our recycling bins appropriately, we cut down on the amount of work that goes into sorting and increase our diversion rates. In a time where staffing is short and budgets are tight, we must improve our role in these programs to allow them to continue effectively and efficiently.

The main ways you can help are:

  1. Be conscious! Do your part to eliminate contamination
  2. Educate those around you about proper recycling techniques
  3. Reduce and reuse items to decrease the volume of material

Campus collection of recycling is currently suspended, but many partners on campus are working to get it back. In the meantime, here are a few tips on how to start a recycling program in your individual office or living space:

  1. Contact Surplus to purchase a bin that you will use for collection and mark it clearly to prevent accidental collection by custodial staff
  2. Post signage detailing what materials will be accepted (We have signage available here)
  3. Identify a volunteer who is willing to take the recycling to the center when the bin is full or include this on a rotating chore schedule

We want to thank all the offices, living spaces, and individuals who are already collecting and self-hauling their recycling. Your dedication to diverting materials from the landfill is recognized and appreciated.

U of I Student Sustainability Cooperative

Physical Address:
Idaho Student Union Building Room 302
Moscow Campus

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2535
Moscow, Idaho 83844-2535

Phone: 208-885-0125

Email: ssc@uidaho.edu

Web: Student Sustainability Cooperative