The University of Miami is committed to recycling and waste minimization. On all campus areas the University is constantly working to find better end uses for our waste, that benefit the economy and the planet.

Recycling - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1.) Where and what can I recycle on my respective Campus?

Coral Gables Campus

Medical Campus

Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

2.) What is single stream Recycling?

Single stream recycling (some times called commingled or mixed recycling) refers to the system in which all recyclable items (Paper, bottles, cans, cardboard, etc..) are collected in a single bin. Staff moves these materials to recycling dumpsters throughout campus. These dumpsters are brought to a recycling center where a technologically advanced system of infrared lasers, magnets, electric currents, human sorting, and scales separates each type of material. The bundled material is eventually purchased by different manufactures to make new goods or products. This reduces the environmental impact of producing virgin material as well as alleviates the burden of landfill waste.

3.) What Can I place in a single stream Recycling bin?

4.) Why Single Stream Recycling?

The University of Miami is committed to environmental responsibility through our Green U program. The purpose of single stream recycling is to make the recycling process as convenient and user friendly as possible. Compared to separate bins, single-stream can capture the most recyclable material we can to ensure maximum waste diversion

5.) I heard that “recycling just gets thrown away,” do we actually recycle?

Yes, we do recycle, though this is commonly a source of confusion on campus. The official policy is that recycling shall be placed in clear bags and trash in dark bags. Often these both will end up on a cart or transported together from a building/office. Once the trash/recycle dumpster is reached, the clear bags are thrown into the recycle bin, and trash is thrown into the trash dumpster. The recycle bin will go to a recycling facility, and the trash will go to a landfill. The University is constantly monitoring and improving the program to ensure that all recycling reaches its intended location.

6.) What happens to recyclable items that are just thrown away?

If you incorrectly put recyclables in the trash, they are thrown into the landfill with all the other waste. It is too expensive and messy to sort through the trash bins, therefore it is important to throw all recyclables into the single-stream recycling.

7.) What could happen if you do not make the effort to recycle? What happens to plastics in nature?

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

8.) Why should I care about my contribution to landfills?

When you recycle, the material can be considered valuable because manufacturers buy the reusable material. On the other hand, trash is not. Companies are charged to dump waste at landfills. The number one reason people do not recycle is because they feel it is inconvenient, but single-stream recycling on campus makes it easy to avoid tossing your recyclables in the trash bin. Since manufacturers can purchase recyclable materials, recycling saves energy and produces less pollution, while in turn creates a higher demand for these goods, helping the economy. The Waste Management landfill in South Florida is located in Miami, and as more waste builds up, no one will want to live next to a “pile of trash.” As this landfill builds up, the rotting material produces methane gas, mixed with other household chemicals, which leaches into the air we breathe and the water we drink. These toxic emissions directly harm wildlife and habitats in the surrounding areas on its way to contaminate amenities used by humans as well. The release of methane gas is 20 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon gas emissions and is believed to contribute greatly to the climate change in recent times. Specifically in Florida, 90% of our drinking water comes from aquifer systems. South Florida’s Biscayne aquifer is highly permeable because it lies at or not far from the ground surface, and therefore the groundwater is readily susceptible to contamination from of leachate of highly concentrated chemicals. Even though there are filtration and purification processes, they tend to be ineffective because of how the contaminants seep into the system.

9.) Why should I Recycle? What is the true impact of recycling for our school and world?

People say seeing is believing. Being environmentally conscience and remembering to do your part can have direct impacts in your own life and for others. Keep in mind the economic benefits that recycling efforts brings to the University of Miami- which is directly helping YOU. Recycling is a pocket saver for the producer and the consumer. Greater than making our students and staff happy, the collaborative effort from around the world can add up to substantial changes in our lifetime. For example?

-The United States annual energy consumption is equivalent to burning 271 trillion matches a day, or roughly one million matches PER person PER day.

-The amount of sunlight that meets the world’s surface PER MINUTE is enough energy to meet the world’s energy demand for an entire year.?

-The production required to make one computer uses 42,000 gallons of water. Remember to recycle your electronics.?

-Recycling ONE aluminum can would power a TV for THREE hours?

-The average time for a plastic bottle to decompose in a landfill is close to 700 years

-Used plastic dumped into the sea destroys life at an estimated 1,000,000 creatures per year

-Hershey’s kisses are produced at a rate of about 20 million a day, which is 133 square miles of aluminum wrap which can be recycled after the chocolate is eaten!

-1.5 million people could get jobs if the united states recycled 75% of its garbage

10.) Can you recycle bottle caps?

Bottle caps should be removed. The pressure of a closed bottle is bad for the recycle machinery at the plant.

11.) Are pizza boxes recyclable?

Pizza bozes are made of recycable cardboard. However, if they are covered in grease from the pizza then they cannot be used by other companies to make new products. It is important that cardboard items, brown paper bags, etc are recycled that are not soaked in food waste. It is recomended that pizzaboxes with grease on them that one can tear off the lid and non greease soaked parts for recycling. If the box is not soaked with greease it can be recycled!

12.) Is Styrofoam recyclable?

No recycling is dictated by our local waste hauler. As a university we try to find unique solutions for non standard items. Recycling market is dictated by the energy needed to recover the material, and the cost to manufacturers who need the material to make new products. If it is not economically viable for materials to be recycled it often is not done. As a university we are moving away from styrofoam becasue of the negative impact on the environment. For our own university it is best to keep styrofoam out of the recycle bin. Better yet, DO NOT use Styrofoam. Avoid using these cheap cups by bringing your own coffee mug to the office and to class. Styrofoam is not biodegradable! It will remain in a landfill for close to 500 years if thrown away today. Because Styrofoam is light weight and floats, it contributes to the main debris along waterways around the world.

13.) Do bottles and cans need to be rinsed before being put in recycle bins? How clean should containers be?

No, you do not need to spend time to rinse out bottles and cans, but make sure you remove caps/lids and pour out all the contents. Food containers such as glass jars should be empty of almost contents. The same goes for shampoo bottles, and other containers. Full bottles or containers will contaminate the recycling as other items such as cardboard and paper will be in the bins. This would devalue the material and make for a messy process at the recycle plant

14.) What does the recycling number mean and when does that number indicate that a material is recyclable?

Plastics are generally labeled with a number 1-7, with “1” plastics as the most easily recyclable materials such as beverage bottles, and “7” as the most difficult (electronics, lids, etc..). These numbers exist in order to organize and execute a recycling distribution process that aids to the public health and well being, taking into consideration the contaminants of all materials. All of these plastics ARE recyclable and should be thrown in the single stream recycling bins. Plastics that are not labeled with any numbers should still be thrown away just in case and if they are not able to be recycled they can just be sorted out at the distribution center! ?

15.) Is it even worth it to place really small items like straw wrappers into a recycling bin, or are these items too hard to sort out at the recycling facility?

Every effort towards being an environmental steward is worth it! Recycling is a movement, and Green U strives to provide educational awareness to students and faculty on campus about how to contribute to this movement. Yes, even the small recyclables make it into recycling distribution centers and can add up to a bundle of material useful for manufacturers. Never feel that just one bottle or small scrap of paper isn’t worth it to recycle, because collectively we can all make a world of difference!