UC Irvine Commingled Recycle Program

The expansion of the Campus Commingled Recycling Program is evident on campus pedestrian pathways. Zero-waste clusters such as the one pictured above will allow the campus community to recycle so much more than ever before.

Blue Commingled Recycling Bin

This bin has a large green label that states:

"Commingled Recycling" - No Food, No liquids, No E-Waste

There is an additional label at the openings to the bin of the universal recycle symbol to alert campus users that only recyclables should be placed in this bin.

  • Acceptable materials - All plastics, all glass, all paper, all metal that are clean and dry.
  • Contamination - All vendors who recycle this commodity require less than 5% contamination levels. Food and liquid of any kind are considered contamination and a greater than 5% contamination level would require that this material be considered landfill material and it would not count toward the campus diversion rate.

Brown Landfill Bin

These bins are labeled with a warning/hazard style label on both sides of the lid. The sign on the lid includes images of material to be place in this bin and states:

"Landfill" - material soiled with foods or liquids

There is additional labeling at the openings of the bin with the word LANDFILL to alert the campus user that anything placed in this bin will end up in landfill.

  • Acceptable materials - All items contaminated with food, liquids or human fluids such as diapers, used tissues, soiled napkins, etc.
  • Contamination - All items in this bin are considered too contaminated to be recycled.

Bottle and Can Bin

These bins are labeled with symbols for bottles and cans. These new powder coated locking lids were paid for by a grant from the Department of Conservation Grant to help increase the amount of California Redemption Value recycled on campus.

  • Acceptable materials - ALL CRV bottles and cans, which are bottles and cans made of any material.
  • Contamination - Anything that is not a CRV bottle or can, such as styrofoam coffee cups or juice boxes. CRV bottles and cans frequently contain liquids and if they were put into the commingled recycling bin, they would contaminate and render the commingled recycling contents as contaminated.

Bin Positioning

The bins are positioned to campus standard in each of the 150 "Zero Waste Clusters" on pedestrian pathways throughout the campus.

  • The Blue Commingled Recycling Bin is positioned on the right side because "Recycling is always the right thing to do." In addition, the majority of the people are right handed and we want to make sure they chose recycling as their primary option.
  • The Brown Landfill Bin is positioned on the left side. Left for landfill. It is called landfill and not trash because that is where the material placed in this bin will end up. It is important for the end user of a product to realize their choices make an environmental difference,
  • The Bottle and Can Bin is positioned in the front and center. You may place bottles and cans made of any material into this bin. CRV stands for California Redemption Value and is the Department of Conservation's (CalRecycle) Designation for all bottles and cans that can be returned to a redemption center for cash back.

Why Three Bins?

In theory, we could use just two bins. One for landfill and one for commingled recycling because clean and empty bottles and cans could be place in the commingled recycle bin.

The problem is that most of our bin users are not aware or are currently unwilling to empty the contents of the bottles and cans prior to placing them in the bins. This liquid contaminates the commingled recycling. Commingled recycling is a vital percentage of our campus diversion rate.

In addition, these Bottle and Can bins do not cost the campus any labor. The contents of these bins are collected by the Orange County Conservation Corps. The OCCC Crew takes the bottles and cans and empties and sorts them at their location. The labor savings is about 24 hours per week. The OCCC labor is paid for through a CalRecycle Grant provided for the OCCC to provide a work experience and High School diploma program to Orange County Youths,

Finally, CalRecycle Grants are all based on CRV recycling. The money for these grants comes from the money left over from unredeemed CRV bottles and cans. It is important to be able to prove we have a CRV recycle program to be able to apply for these grants. To date UCI has been the recipient of almost $300,000 in CalRecycle grants to help us grow our Recycling Program. CRV accounts for only 1% of all that is recycled on campus, but CRV is the most recognizable recycled material. Because all CalRecycle grants awarded are based on CRV collections, these bins are symbolically and financially important.

Current Bin Results

During the past month, the collection data on the contents of the commingled bin and the landfill bins shows the pedestrian pathway at a 50% diversion rate. With the appropriate publicity, we anticipate the diversion rate to increase to 80% within the next 6 months.

Anne Krieghoff - Solid Waste and Recycle Manager

Recycle Bins