Weekly Features


What is recyclable, and what is trash?

February 9, 2016

Turning Citizens Commons into Sustainability Central.

You can make the Citizens Commons food court in the Campus Center more like "Sustainability Central" with just a few tips from the Office of Sustainability.

Ever wonder about how to dispose of your containers and leftovers after a visit to the food court? Which items should go to recycling, and which into the trash?

Here are some visual tips, courtesy of the IUPUI Office of Sustainability, to help you practice sustainability while cleaning up your table.

Containers with food remnants.

Does leftover food matter when deciding on trash or recycling?

"Paper food containers and wrappers are recyclable," says sustainability director Jessica Davis. "Food should be cleaned out of containers as much as possible, but it's OK to recycle if it has some leftover residue on it."

Pizza boxes.

How about cardboard boxes?

"Cardboard [pizza] boxes are recyclable," says Davis. "Just make sure you've eaten all the pizza or thrown the leftovers in the trash. Plastic dipping containers are recyclable as well."

Utensils, straws and other.

What about straws, forks, chopsticks and similar items?

"All of these items are trash," Davis says. "Unless the plastic lid or plasticware has a recycle symbol on it, it has to be thrown away. Even though napkins may look and feel like paper, they must be thrown in the trash."

Plastic wrap and lids

Are shrink wraps, lids and labels trash?

"This plastic sushi container is recyclable," Davis says. "Always check the bottom of plastic items to look for a recycle symbol. If the number 1 to 7 is in the middle of the symbol, it should be recycled."

Water bottles

How should we treat water bottles?

"Plastic drink bottles are recyclable -- they have the recycle symbol on the bottom," says Davis. "You can even leave the cap on and toss the whole bottle in the recycle bin."

Paper cups and recycling.

What if you find a food court tray covering a recycling opening?

"People tend to put trays over the opening to the recycle bin, so a lot of recyclables get thrown in the trash," Davis says. "Make sure the opening is clear, and toss in the recyclables. And the paper cups in the Campus Center are recyclable."

More cardboard containers.

Are containers like this one always recyclable?

"Yes, cardboard -- or any paper container -- is recyclable," Davis says. "Just shake any food residue into the trash, and then place the box in the recycle bin."

Coffee cups and more.

What about the coffee cups so commonly found around food courts?

"Paper coffee cups can be recycled," Davis says. "Plastic lids usually can be recycled, too, as long as they have the recycling symbol on them."

Potato chip bags.

What about potato chip bags and similar items?

"Food packaging items like chip bags and wrappers are trash," Davis says. "They should be disposed of in that way."

Aluminum cans.

Are aluminum cans recyclable or trash?

"Aluminum cans can always be recycled," the sustainability director says.


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