What plastic does Penn accept for recycling?

Dear Benny:
The City of Philadelphia recently announced that it now recycles all plastic materials (numbers 1-7). Has Penn expanded the items it accepts for recycling as well? And what exactly happens to all those bottles, papers and cans after I put them in the recycling bin?
—Musing about reusing

Dear Musing:
Great news: Penn now recycles all plastic containers and plastic types numbered 1 through 7. The University’s recycler, Blue Mountain Recycling, has installed new equipment capable of sorting and recycling beyond the usual numbers 1 and 2 plastics, including numbers 3 through 7 plastics such as yogurt containers, bottle tops and syrup bottles. The number codes for plastic recyclables are typically found on the bottom of the container.

Be aware, however, that plastic wrap, plastic bags, Styrofoam, and PVC are still not recyclable at Penn. But lots of supermarkets recycle plastic grocery bags through take-back programs.

The expansion of the recycling of plastic on campus marks another big step toward Penn’s Climate Action Plan goal of reaching a 40 percent campus recycling rate by 2014. The Climate Action Plan was unveiled by Penn President Amy Gutmann last year. Currently, Penn’s recycling rate is slightly more than 24 percent, an increase of about 4 percent over last year.  
Remember that it is up to you to separate recyclables and dispose of trash in the appropriate containers. Blue Mountain Recycling accepts Penn’s recyclables at its Grays Ferry-based Materials Recovery Facility, where the glass, plastic, metal, paper and cardboard is sorted, packaged and shipped to be remanufactured into new products.

To find out more about campus waste reduction and recycling initiatives, and to find downloadable recycling signs that you can post in your building, visit the Penn Green Campus Partnership website at www.upenn.edu/ sustainability.

Got a question for Benny? Send it via e-mail to current@pobox.upenn.edu or via regular mail to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106.

Originally published on September 16, 2010