UO to host a pair of weekend plastics recycling events

Plastics recycling table

For those looking to clean out some cupboard space or keep long-lasting plastics out of landfills, the UO will hold a plastics collection drop-off on two upcoming Saturdays, April 30 and May 21.

A variety of plastic bottles, tubs and lids will be accepted and taken for recycling. The UO Office of Sustainability worked with Lane County Waste Management to coordinate the community events.

A few years ago, Lane County stopped collecting plastic recyclables in curbside bins, but the local transfer station still accepts certain clean, dry plastics on site. The UO plastics collection simplifies the process by conveniently gathering plastics near campus and taking them to the waste station in Glenwood. From there, plastics are sent to the Denton Plastics recycling center in Portland.

The process is simple: First, schedule an appointment to drop off plastic recyclables. Appointments are 10 minutes long and are available from 9 a.m. to noon. Slots are filling up fast.

Next, sift through the plastics to be recycled and look for the number identifying the type of plastic. The drop-off event accepts No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 plastic bottles, tubs and lids as well as No. 2 plastic jugs.

Plastics also must be free of labels and adhesives. Soak sticky spots and stubborn labels in cooking oil for a few hours, then easily scrape and wash them away with soap and water. Make sure that by the time of the appointment plastics are completely clean of food and residue. They must also be dry.

Finally, sort clean, dry plastics into four categories: No. 2 bottles and jugs, No. 2 tubs and lids, No. 4 plastics and No. 5 plastics. Bag and label each of the categories separately to make sure the drop-off goes smoothly and quickly. Details about the drop-off protocol will be provided when signing up for an appointment.

UO junior and student sustainability officer Cameron Tolbert-Scott, a master recycler who will assist at the drop-offs, said if plastics aren’t sorted or cleaned properly, someone will offer tips on how to improve recycling skills next time.

“We can’t accept paper remnants or sticky adhesive on plastics,” she said. “When the plastics melt down, it needs to be as pure as possible. We have to be as particular as we can be so the recycling process actually works.”

The Sustainability Office has other ways it helps reduce waste. It manages and runs the surplus furniture warehouse, which gives campus faculty and staff members year-round access to reserve items for campus use. The next public sale is Saturday April 23.

It also has converted a portion of the ROSE (Reusable Office Supply Exchange) room to a store where students can get office supplies for free. It’s open to students 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

Anyone with questions about recycling in general or the plastics event can contact the Office for Sustainability’s recycling information hotline at 541-999-7173. People also can stay up to date with the Office of Sustainability’s events and initiatives by subscribing to its newsletter or by visiting its Instagram or Twitter pages at @sustainable_uo.

By Lauren Church, Clark Honors College