Recycling just got better: TerraCycle at Georgetown

If you’ve ever stood at your recycling receptacle, perplexed, with a questionably recyclable object in your hand, good news has arrived.

Last year, the GUSA Senate Sustainability Subcommittee started Georgetown’s extension of the initiative, Terracycle, on our campus. Terracycle specializes in recycling objects that aren’t able to be recycled through traditional recycling programs.

Terracycle can recycle objects like Brita filters, ink jet and toner cartridges, cosmetics, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo bottles, or almost anything that can be found in the bathroom. Drop-off bins have just recently been expanded to every freshmen dorm and Hilltoss in the Healey Family Student Center. Previously, only one drop-off location existed in Leavey.

Samantha Lee (SFS ’17) has been the lead initiator of this project. Lee first heard of Terracycle when the CEO of the company moved two doors down from her home in New Jersey. The Terracycle headquarters itself is only five miles away from her New Jersey neighborhood, and she had the privilege of interning at the organization last summer.

Terracycle believes that everything should be able to be recycled—not just plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and newspapers. Thus, the company finds a way for non-traditionally recycled objects to be properly recycled or reused in the creation of new products. On the Terracycle website, a slew of products can be bought that are at least partially from recycled materials. Like this hip gym bag.

Lee explained the recycling process to Vox. “Once enough objects have accumulated on campus, the goods are shipped off to Terracycle processing plants in various parts of the country,” she said.

Terracycle has calculated that impact on the environment from shipping the objects to a new location and recycling them is still mitigated when compared to just throwing away these traditionally unrecyclable objects.

Since Terracycle has been put in place last February, over 1,000 items have been recycled through the program. Each item recycled also accumulates a few cents for Georgetown, which Lee would like to see eventually grow as a fund for new sustainable campus initiatives.

The Corp has been enthusiastic about the project and has been an instrumental partner for the program. The Office of Sustainability has also demonstrated its support.

Lee is excited about the results of the project and happy to see it expand in the future. “I’d love to see the university take over and have a one stop collection place for anything that is unusual,” she said.

Photo: TerraCycle at Georgetown via Facebook

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