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Go Ahead, Mix It Up! Northwestern Moves to Mixed Recycling

Modified: March 2, 2016

As of February 15, 2016 Northwestern moved to “mixed” recycling collection, which means that all recycling (paper, cardboard, plastic, cans, and bottles) can now be collected together in the same recycling bin.

One of Northwestern’s sustainability goals is to achieve a 20 percent reduction in waste to landfill by 2020. Increasing the waste diversion rate, which is currently 39 percent, through improved recycling is one of the key initiatives that will help achieve this goal.

Northwestern has made the decision to switch from dual-stream recycling collection to a combined, or “mixed recycling,” collection because studies suggest that this will increase collection rates. In addition, collecting paper and cardboard together with cans, glass, and plastics will bring the University in line with residential recycling practices in the cities of Chicago and Evanston.

With the change, the University will continue to use existing recycling bins, but will replace the lids and labels to highlight the new collection practice. This switch is happening over the next few months and is accompanied by communications and training for custodians and the Northwestern community. The Office of Sustainability will update bins and labels in public and high traffic spaces first, then work with building occupants to address restricted and more private areas. The of April, 2016 is the target for completing updates in common areas.

During this transition, recycling collection will continue in all facilities, so those on campus should continue to make use of recycling bins. The only difference will be that it will no longer be necessary to keep paper and cardboard separate from plastic, glass, and cans.

To request new recycling labels or bins, please contact Julie Cahillane in the Office of Sustainability via email or phone at 847-467-1374. To learn more, go to the website. Thanks for recycling!

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