The administration has rejected the Stony Brook Environmental Club’s plan to recycle the type of plastic used in Starbucks cups and yogurt containers on campus, citing financial concerns.
Environmental Club President Andrew Greco contacted the Recycling Department, asking if they would help start a program to recycle #5 plastics on campus. Currently, only #1 and 2 plastics are accepted at Stony Brook University. But according to Greco, “they didn’t want to take it on.”
Not satisfied with that answer, the Environmental Club decided to take it on for themselves.
“We collect a reusable shopping bag full of it every meeting,” said Ashley Smalley, a member of the club. They then drop the plastic off at Whole Foods, which ships it to Preserve.
Director of Custodial Services Darryl Shampine explained what costs might be involved in starting a recycling program.
“The main expenses would come from buying containers and from an education effort to explain the program,” said Shampine. The student body would need to learn what #5 plastics are and would be responsible for sorting them.
Shampine also rejected the idea that the environmental club start an independent recycling program on campus. “The bins we have now were chosen because they were ascetically pleasing,” he said. He also feared that the club wouldn’t remove the plastic in a timely matter.
The Recycling Department failed to respond to repeated requests for an interview.
Recycling #5 plastics are particularly difficult because the Town of Brookhaven doesn’t collect them. According to their website, they only recycle certain types of #1 and 2. This means the campus would also be responsible for shipping the plastic to Preserve.
The Environmental Club intends on presenting the Administration with a count of the #5 plastics they collected throughout the semester. “We want to show them how many people are interested,” Smalley said.
The Environmental Club began recycling polypropylene, or #5 plastic, earlier this semester when a member spotted one of Preserve’s ‘Gimme 5’ deposit boxes at the local Whole Foods.
Preserve is a Boston-based company that reuses plastics that normally aren’t profitable enough to recycle. They make and sell toothbrushes, razors, and other polypropylene products in order to fund their recycling plant. According to Preserve, #5 plastics make up 1% of the market.
Unless a new policy is enacted, the only way to recycle that Starbucks cup or yogurt container will be to bring it to Whole Foods, or to drop it off with the Environmental Club.
“Hopefully, soon there will be another way to recycle #5s,” said Greco.