How does Recycling work at UCT?
UCT, like many other institutions and organisations worldwide, uses a 2-stream waste policy. All around campus there are green-lidded bins for recyclable/dry waste (anything that can be sorted), and yellow-lidded bins for non-recyclable/wet waste. (anything that is too unhygienic to sort: food, organic, sanitary, medical and garden waste).
Waste from these bins is collected separately. The dry/green waste is taken to a sorting centre (Material Recovery Facility). There the waste is separated into the different types and classes of recyclables, which are then sold. The waste that cannot be recycled or sorted (wet/yellow waste) is taken to landfill. The big challenge is trying to keep wet waste from contaminating the dry waste.
UCT used to have a 4-bin system on Upper Campus, but it did not work well and so was changed to a 2-bin system. Most of the other campuses, including residences, have always employed a two bin waste recycling system. There are also separate recycling procedures for paper, e-waste and hazardous material.
The recycling system can be complicated, and does not work perfectly, but it does make a significant difference and is an important start. UCT generates up to 8 tonnes of waste per day. The monitoring of recycling and waste at the university is done through the Waste Task Team, which is a subcommittee of the Environmental Management Working Group. Any suggestions or feedback can be directed to the recycling portfolio representative on the GCI committee, or to the EMWG directly.
Ultimately, the system’s effectiveness depends on how well UCT students and staff use it. Remember, try to also reduce your consumption, and re-use what you can, before recycling.
If one is confused about whether an item is recyclable or not, remember the simple rule: if it’s dry put it in the green bin; if it’s wet throw it in the yellow one.
UCT used to have a 4-bin system to separate paper, plastic, tins and non-recyclables. However, all the waste from the 3 recycling bins were removed in one truck and sorted at the MRF, therefore there was no need to sort at site. We then simplified the system and now only have 2 bins and people only have to make one decision – if it’s recyclable or not.
This year we will also be working closely with vendors on campus, to help limit waste from source. We will look into alternative packaging options and hopefully bring in more recyclable or compostable packaging. We will also work with vendors to help them recycle and reduce their waste. If you would like to be part of this team, please contact the Recycling Coordinator.