Students pilot plastic bag recycling on campus

Look for these plastic bag recycling bins inside select campus C-Stores.
Look for these plastic bag recycling bins inside select campus C-Stores.

NC State students, faculty and staff can now recycle plastic bags on campus at special bins located inside the C-stores in Bragaw Residence Hall, Talley Student Union, College of Textiles and the Honors Village.

Prior to this pilot program, single-use plastic bags were not recyclable on campus and that concerned the NC State Stewards, a group of student sustainability ambassadors based out of the University Sustainability Office. The Stewards developed the pilot program and will manage the weekly collection of bags and ensure they are recycled responsibly.

“We saw a pilot project as a good way to test out the waters,” said NC State Steward Jason Endries, who led the development of the pilot program. “It will allow us to collect information on what it will take to launch a campus-wide plastic bag recycling program. Would it be successful? How many bags would we need to handle? How big would the bins have to be? These are questions we are trying to answer.”

Because plastic bags can cause equipment malfunctions in recycling sorting centers, many sorting centers don’t accept bags. If they are accepted, bags often must arrive at the center presorted, meaning they cannot be mixed with other recyclables. Bins specific to plastic bag recycling, such as those in NC State’s pilot program and in many grocery stores, are the primary way to recycle bags.

“This pilot program will hopefully spread to a campus-wide program where students will be able to find plastic bag recycling bins similar to how they find trash bins and regular recycling bins now,” Endries said.