The Reduce Single-Use project has placed black bins outside of Omega, Nu, and Kappa dorms for students to properly recycle solo-style cups. A new partnership with TerraCycle has given Eckerd's community a chance to correctly recycle their weekend staples: red solo cups.
“It's a company that basically is specialized in recycling products that are hard to recycle,” Professor of Marine Science and Biology Shannon Gowans said.
TerraCycle uses a special upcycling system to recycle products in an environmentally friendly way. This system reduces the carbon footprint that other major recycling processes create. Reduce Single-Use Project Intern Angelina Kossoff, a junior environmental studies major, is excited to partner with this organization.
“[TerraCycle] uses a circular method,” Kossoff said. “So we're using upcycling, and then recycling, and it will never go into a landfill or incinerator or anything. It uses the waste to create new materials and products.”
There are now seven special black bins across campus labeled with laminated signs and green lids that students can dispose their solo cups in.
“You can just put your solo cup in, it doesn't actually even need to be clean,” Kossoff said. “Then when we have a large enough [amount], they pay for the shipping label, and then we send it to them. And that's just a good way to recycle and reuse these materials.”
The Reduce Single-Use team hopes to eventually expand the partnership to other hard-to-recycle products common for students. They encourage students to watch their emails for surveys to get their opinions about what other products are common on campus and hard to recycle.
“There's a bunch of different ones,” Kossoff said. “There's one for laundry detergent, there’s one for toothpaste. So we're gonna work and figure out which ones will work best for people on campus.”
The team is also hoping that this initiative will encourage students to stop their use of plastic solo-style cups.
“I'm excited because it's an interim,” Reduce Single-Use Project Intern Trish Schranck said. “We are hoping, obviously, that solo cups will eventually leave our campus entirely. But until then, this is a nice intermediate step for students who are still engaging in using solo cups, to be able to dispose of them in a way that gives them a second life. So that's what I really love.”
TerraCycle is an organization started by a student from Princeton University, Tom Szaky, in 2001, according to their website.
There are unique benefits the organization provides, according to Gowans. It encourages more businesses to recycle materials that are harder to recycle.
“Some businesses are actually sponsoring the cost of recycling, and the shipping, which can be big,” Gowans said.
Schranck is interested to see how this branch of the project impacts the Eckerd community as a whole, not just those that are already environmental activists.
“It's a really great opportunity for students who aren't necessarily interested in recycling, to start thinking about recycling, because it's a party option. And if that's more of their lifestyle, then that's an exciting way to get in to recycling,” Schranck said.
This new initiative adds to the many changes, like more reusable alternatives, less plastic bags, and more, that the Reduce Single-Use project has implemented on Eckerd’s campus.