WashU is helping raise awareness on how to properly recycle plastic bags and wraps through the 2021-2022 Bags2Bench Tour.
Though sustainability efforts are common practice on our campus, many times we are not able to see the direct benefits of our individual recycling efforts. During the month of September, when you’re out and about on campus, you might see people sitting on plastic bags. Not literally, but in the form of a traveling park bench made from approximately 13,500 recycled plastic bags!
The Bags2Bench Tour is making a month-long stop on campus and WashU is one of nine local universities that have stepped up to participate in a region-wide Recycle Responsibly educational program sponsored by OneSTL.
The touring bench was produced locally by Ranken Technical College, and the prime material of the bench is Trex composite decking. The bench will be located on campus at the South 40.
What’s different about recycling plastic bags and wraps?
Plastic bags and wraps are the #1 contaminant in the single-stream collection process. When plastic bags and wraps are mixed with other recyclable items, they can contaminate an entire load of good recyclable items and cause it to be sent to the landfill. Nationally, on average, contaminants divert about 20% of good recyclable items away from processing centers.
This challenge is easy to address, simply never place plastic bags and wraps in traditional recycling bins. They should always be placed in designated recycling points at local grocery stores like Schnucks and Dierbergs. When returned to the store they are given new life as composite decking, playground equipment, or other consumer products. To find a complete listing of recycling points, please visit: https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.
Notably, Student Sustainability Board (SSB) is now offering soft plastics recycling at Hitzeman and the Village Mailroom!
Who is behind the Bags2Bench Tour?
The traveling bench tour is sponsored by OneSTL, a collaboration of individuals and organizations from across the St. Louis region that are working together to create a more sustainable future. Funding for the traveling bench tour and the Recycle Responsibly project is provided by the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. For more information, please visit www.recycleresponsibly.org