After a lengthy pilot, the Office of Campus Sustainability is phasing out the snack wrapper and coffee bag recycling pilot programs to redirect resources toward more impactful waste reduction programs. Please send any remaining items to OCS via campus mail by March 2, 2020.
The results of the pilot showed that the costs outweighed the benefits. For example:
Despite well-intentioned participation, contamination was a major issue. Too much staff time was required to hand-sort clean shipments for TerraCycle.
Recycling snack wrappers and coffee bags cost approximately $1,500 for 200 lbs (not counting labor). By comparison, $1,500 covers the processing fees for 60 tons (120,000 lbs) of recycling at the Materials Recovery Facility or enables 2,100 lbs of waste reduction at a zero waste event like the Michigan Medicine ice cream social.
Therefore, we are turning our focus to higher impact waste reduction opportunities, including composting expansion, identifying new recycling markets, and working more closely with Procurement to reduce the use of disposable products on campus.
Departments who are interested in continuing to recycle snack wrappers or coffee bags can directly order TerraCycle boxes.
Other specialty recycling programs that OCS offers via TerraCycle (such as bottle caps and writing utensils) will continue, so please keep sending those items in!