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Environment / Sustainability

New stickers aim to increase recycling rates

December 6, 2010

Colorado State kicks off a sustainability education campaign this week with a new labeling system for campus recycling bins that's designed to increase recycling rates and reduce confusion.

recycling stickerSustainability education campaign

CSU has a nationally recognized reputation as a leader in university sustainability with a recycling rate of more than 56 percent of total waste recycled. However, labels on recycling bins have created confusion as to what items can be recycled and how to sort them. This week, Colorado State kicks off a new recycling sticker campaign to clear up that confusion.

Single-stream recycling: sorting is no longer required

In 2008, Colorado State adopted a single-stream recycling model to make recycling easier by eliminating the need to sort items. The goal of this model was to make recycling easier for students, staff, and faculty, but outdated labels on the bins confused the single-stream message. Sorting is no longer required, and all items now can be put into any recycling bin on campus.

“Years ago, we had to sort paper, glass, and aluminum separately. Some of the old signs were still on bins, which contradicted the single-stream recycling model and confused campus,” said Sheela Backen, Integrated Solid Waste manager at CSU. "The Live Green team felt it was time to update labels on bins to make it easier and more clear for the campus community to recycle." 

recycling sticker

New labels on 5,000 outdoor bins

After extensive research including focus groups and a review of signage from other campuses and cities, the CSU Live Green team designed new single-stream labeling stickers for 5,000 outdoor recycling bins on campus. The new stickers are simple, brightly colored, and image-based to improve understanding of the single-stream system.

The new stickers highlight the main categories of recycling: paper (magazines, newspaper, junk mail); paperboard (cereal boxes, food boxes); plastic (#1-7); and glass and aluminum (cans, jars). The university provides separate bins for cardboard to make collection easier for the ISW department, who receive $95 per ton for cardboard and $20 per ton of single stream recyclables.

The Integrated Solid Waste department and the Live Green team ask that recycled items be placed directly in bins and not in plastic bags, which contaminate the recyclables.  

cardboard stickerNew campaign rolls out before RecycleMania kickoff in Jan.

The Live Green team hopes the new stickers will help the campus' recycling efforts and even improve Colorado State's recycling rate as we approach RecycleMania 2011, a national collegiate recycling competition.

Each year, as CSU kicks off RecycleMania at the beginning of the spring semester, the Integrated Solid Waste and Live Green teams conduct a campus waste audit. In 2010, the audit found that 37 percent of the "trash" could have been recycled. That figure was down from about 40 percent in 2009. Annual tracking shows that recycling rates have steadily increased on campus each year.

“The goal of the new recycling labels is to boost our recycling rate even higher,” Backen said.

Contact: Tonie Miyamoto
Phone: 491-4314