The Keweenaw’s waste reduction drive

For quite some time, we’ve been trying to make an effort to be more conscientious about the environment and the world we live in. People do this by changing small habits in their daily lives, like reusing water bottles or recycling items that are no longer needed when possible. However, on campus at Michigan Tech, there are some products that despite being made of plastics or paper products, we are incapable of truly recycling. This is why MTU’s Sustainability Demonstration House and the Alternative Energy Enterprise are working together to host the Keweenaw’s first waste reduction drive here at Michigan Tech.

This event is meant to target items that cannot be accepted and recycled when placed into the recycling bins on campus by students. Common items such as plastic bags, batteries, cardboard and styrofoam egg cartons, granola bar wrappers and bottle caps are not able to be processed.

The reasons why these products cannot be accepted for recycling at Michigan Tech varies for each item, with some being more obvious than others. Plastic bags, when recycled, can get tangled with other materials in the process of melting down and creating usable material in the future. Due to the chemicals inside of batteries, they are often difficult to recycle and reuse the metal they are made of. For bottle caps, the amount of plastic that can be gained from recycling them is quite small, and as a result, they are not typically processed with the rest of the bottle they come with.

For most of these items, there are local businesses that can take these items for reuse or proper recycling. The intention of this event is to gather these items together so they can be brought to these companies so we are lowering the waste we create in the community. So long as these items are clean (and have a recycling number for plastic bags), they can be collected for future use.

The Sustainability Demonstration House and the Alternative Energy Enterprise plan on handling the collection of these products and bringing them to the appropriate locations for recycling and reuse. Egg cartons will be brought to local farms, where they can be directly reused as packaging for more eggs. Terracycle will accept foil lined granola bar wrappers, and can melt them down into a hard plastic, while the bottle caps will be brought to Preserve, where they can be melted down for the creation of kitchenware. Batteries and bags will also be properly recycled, after being collected at this event.

The Sustainability Demonstration House and the Alternative Energy Enterprise are asking students and members of the community to start collecting these items now. They can be collected either from your own daily use, or you can even start gathering them from your place of work. On Saturday, April 18, they will collect these items at Fisher Hall on campus so they can be brought to locations that can either be reused, or recycled. We hope to see you there to make this event a success.