New Bins

In your building, you’ll notice that your recycling and trash bins have changed. In the past, you may have had only a small, personal trash bin next to your desk. Now, you’ll find this trash bin “twinned” with a recycling bin next to it!

Beyond your desk, you’ll see that the larger, communal recycling and trash bins have changed as well. There used to be separate bins for paper recycling and bottle/can recycling, however, now you can mix all of these materials in one Mixed Recycling bin.

You’ll find these “twinned” bins all throughout your building – in the hallways, breakrooms, mailrooms and even the conference rooms. Anywhere there is a trash bin, there will be a recycling bin paired with it, making it easy to recycle right.

New Collection Schedule

Housekeeping will now collect both of your deskside bins once per month. However, they’ll be emptying centralized waste stations every night meaning you’ll always be able to empty out your personal deskside bins without seeing any overflow at waste stations.

You’ll be responsible for taking your personal deskside bins to the waste stations and sorting your waste in between your monthly deskside services.

Please keep in mind that housekeeping services different sections of the building at different times each month, according to staffing and logistical ability. This may mean that another office in your building has its bins serviced before yours in a certain month, but rest assured that your bins will also be serviced during that month.

Mixed Recycling

The Mixed Recycling bins now handle a combination of recyclables that we used to keep separated. You can put the following items in the Mixed Recycling barrels.

  • Mixed paper, including mailers, magazines, colored paper, newspaper and softbound journals
  • Plastic tubs, such as yogurt tubs
  • Plastic bottles (such as water and soda bottles)
  • Aluminum soda cans and steel cans

Landfill Waste

Keep in mind there are still a few things that aren’t recyclable and must go in the Landfill bin, such as chip or candy wrappers, hot coffee cups, lids, straws, and to-go clamshells and containers.

You might notice that plastic bags are not part of Mixed Recycling, or part of Landfill waste.

Plastic bags, along with batteries, and printer cartridges can all be recycled in a special convenience recycling station across from the breakroom on the first floor. See “Hard-To-Recycle Items and Convenience Stations” below for more information.

In addition to simplified traditional recycling, we’re also making it easier to recycle some of those “hard-to-recycle” items like batteries, printer cartridges, and plastic bags. You’ll find a special recycling station in your building designed to accommodate these different materials, along with signage instructing you what can and cannot go into the containers or bin.

Housekeeping will now go into your office to clean and service your space once per month.
Why are waste bins and collection services changing in my building?

In 2016, Chancellor Folt launched the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative which strives to achieve Zero Waste, Zero Water, and Zero Carbon Emissions. Noting that Zero Waste is a journey, not a destination, the UNC Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling is seeking to create systems and infrastructure that supports progress toward Zero Waste. This infrastructure requires simplified collection sites and collection methods which will be implemented throughout all of campus on a rolling basis.

Why can mixed paper be combined with plastic bottles, tubs and cans now? Doesn’t it need to be kept separate like it’s always been?

Great question! Our recyclables are processed at a Material Recycling Facility (MRF) operated by Sonoco in Raleigh, NC. Their equipment and operations allow them to efficiently sort through mixed recycling and separate out the materials for baling and resale to manufacturing markets. RecycleMoreNC has created an entertaining and informative video explaining how the materials are sorted and recovered at a MRF.

None of this applies to me, because my building hasn’t transitioned to mixed recycling or twinned bins! When will you get to my building?

While Housekeeping Services and OWRR have plans for rolling out these new waste stations, twinned bins and collection services all across campus, we do ask for your patience as we develop these systems and ensure they function well for each unique space. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always reach us by phone at 919.962.1442 or by emailing us at recycling@facilities.unc.edu.

In the meantime, you can help UNC work toward Zero Waste by reducing your waste,  minimizing the “stuff” you bring on campus, and by recycling more and recycling right. Utilize the outdoor walkway sites, indoor recycling barrels and compost bins at dining facilities, practice sustainable purchasing practices and support the circular economy by purchasing items manufactured with recycled content.

Where can I learn more about the Three Zeros Initiative?

You can learn more about UNC’s Three Zeros Initiative and stay up to date with the progress at threezeros.unc.edu.