Location: Bowdoin / Sustainability / Campus Initiatives / Recycling and Waste Management

We've compiled it all here... everything you have ever wanted to know about recycling but were afraid to ask. Have a recycling question we haven't answered here?  Contact Bowdoin's Sustainability Coordinator, Keisha Payson, at cpayson@bowdoin.edu  - we'll add it to the list!

What can be put in the Zero-Sort recycle bins?

Newspapers, Magazines, Catalogs
Telephone/Soft cover books
Direct Mail/Envelopes (all types)
Paper (all colors, staples/paperclips OK)
Paperboard (e.g.cereal/shoe boxes)
Pizza boxes, as long as all crusts, pizza pieces, and large clumps of toppings have been removed
Milk/Juice Cartons
Cardboard/Brown paper bags
Plastic bottles and containers numbered #1-#7
Milk jugs/Bleach/Detergent/Shampoo bottles
Food containers (e.g. cottage cheese/margarine/yogurt)
Glass bottles/Jars (any color)
Aluminum (pie plates/trays/foil)
Metal cans (tin/steel/aluminum)
Aerosol cans (must be empty)
All Cans Must be Empty and Non-Hazardous

Download the Zero-Sort Recycling poster.

Is there anything that can not go in Zero-Sort recycling?

The following items can not go in Zero-Sort recycling:
plastic bags
food liners (i.e. potato chip or cereal bags)
unmarked plastics
tissues and paper towels
light bulbs
window glass
dishes
Pyrex
ceramics
[styro]foam
hazardous waste
hypodermic needles
batteries
items with food inside
greasy pizza boxes that still have food in them 

Where can I redeem my bottles and cans for money?

All soda, juice, water, and alcoholic beverages sold in Maine carry a deposit that can be redeemed for money once the container is empty.  There are several locations close to campus where you can redeem bottles and cans for money:

Don’s Redemption Center
51 Harpswell Rd # 600, Brunswick, ME   (207) 729-8825

Clynk Redemption at Hannaford Supermarket
35 Elm Street, Brunswick, ME   (207) 725-8701
Special bags and tags are required for Clynk – visit their website for more details.  Their set-up is well designed for fundraising when multiple people will be redeeming bottles for a group fundraiser.

The Beverage Rack
48 Cushing Street, Brunswick, ME   (207) 729-0202 ‎

If you chose not to redeem bottles and cans for money, they can be placed in a Zero-Sort bin.  Please remember these containers should be empty before recycling.

How can I find out if my plastic container is recyclable?

Plastics numbered 1-7 are recyclable in the Zero-Sort bins. On the bottom of most plastic containers, there is a triangular symbol that looks like three chasing arrows. The number within that triangle is the number of plastic your container is made out of. Unfortunately, if there is no number there is no way to identify the type of plastic and it cannot be recycled in Zero-Sort.

What happens to Styrofoam? Can we recycle it?

Styrofoam, also known as expanded Polystyrene, is a tricky substance. Polystyrene (#6 plastic) in its rigid form can be recycled, but when it is expanded to foam, it goes in the trash, even though it may have a #6 inside the chasing arrows symbol. Examples of foamed polystyrene that CAN NOT be recycled in single stream include foam coffee cups, foam food trays and foam packing peanuts.

There is an alternative reuse for those pesky peanuts and chunk styrofoam you get in packages - the campus mail center is always willing to take styrofoam peanuts and rigid, but not overly large, chunks of styrofoam for reuse in filling space voids in packages.

Can I recycle food containers, such as yogurt cups, if they still have food in them?

All food containers, such as yogurt, soup, and peanut butter containers should be empty before being put in the recycle bin.  If they still contain food in them, please flush in toilet rather than clog up sinks in rest room.

Can I place my shopping bag in to Zero-Sort recycling since it has the #2 or #4 with the chasing arrows symbol on it?

Unfortunately, no. The Zero-Sort sorting process relies on machinery with rollers and the plastic bags get twisted around the machinery, at which point they need to stop the process to cut out the twisted up plastic bags.

You can take your bags to local retailers (Hannaford, Shaw’s, & Target) for recycling. For example, at Hannaford they accept the following film (as long as it is clean and dry):

Shrink wrap
Pallet wrap
HDPE and LDPE Single use shopping bags
Produce bags
Bread bags (no breadcrumbs)
Newspaper bags
Dry cleaning bags
Paper towel and toilet paper overwraps

Not accepted: Wood pellet bags, dirty bags, wet bags, bags with plastic zip lock fasteners

Hannaford collected and recycled 2,765,736 pounds of this type of plastic in 2009. They send it to Trex - a composite lumber manufacturer. Trex recycles approximately 300 million pounds of polyethylene film and an equal amount of waste wood each year in the making of their composite lumber.

And next time you go shopping don’t forget your reusable/cloth bags – then you won’t have any plastic bags to worry about.

Can CDs and DVDs be thrown into the Zero-Sort bins at Bowdoin?

No. Neither of these electronic media are recyclable as part of Bowdoin's Zero-Sort recycling program.   If you have CDs or DVDs that you'd like to recycle on campus you can find one of the special TechnoTrash Cans located in several places on campus.  TechnoTrash Cans are located in:

1. The Kanbar computer lab
2. The H&L computer lab
3. The Help Desk on the second floor of Coles Tower
4. The second floor of the Buck Fitness Center
5. The Bowdoin Magazine in the McClellan Building
6. The Sustainable Bowdoin Office in Rhodes Hall

The following products are accepted in the Technotrash cans on the Bowdoin Campus (* but please note these are for personal property, not college property. College owned equipment should be returned to IT for proper reuse or recycling):

* All forms of electronic media and their cases: diskettes, zip disks, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs et al, video tape, audio tape, game cartridges, DAT, DLT and virtually all other type of computer tapes.
* Hard drives, Zip and Jaz drives, jump drives, etc.
* All types of personal cell phones, pagers, PDAs and their chargers, cables, and headset accessories
* Inkjet printer cartridges
* All of the small computer accessories such as MP3 players, iPods, digital cameras, hand-held scanners, handheld games and other connected devices
* All of the cords, cables, boards, chips, etc. attached to or removed from a computer.

What can be done with old computer technology, including monitors, scanners, keyboards and mice?

There is a great program funded by Dell Computer and Goodwill Industries called ReConnect. They will take most old technological items. Check out the IT website for more informationPlease note: only personal computers should be recycled through Reconnect. All Bowdoin College computers are property of the College. If you have a Bowdoin College computer that is no longer in use, please contact Mike Roux to arrange for pickup of the old computer.

Is there a place on campus where I can put old batteries to be recycled?

While the Town of Brunswick instructs that alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D and 9V) can be sent to the landfill because they are not hazardous, Sustainable Bowdoin does collect them for recycling. Other batteries, such as Metal hydride, lithium, ni-cad, silver, mercury, and zinc are regulated as hazardous and must be collected for proper disposal under the guidance of Bowdoin's Environmental Health and Safety office.

You can utilize campus mail to deliver batteries either to Keisha Payson at Sustainable Bowdoin, or to Mark Fisher at the Office of Environmental Health & Safety (both care of: Facilities Management, Rhodes Hall). For Bowdoin’s complete battery recycling policy check out the Battery Recycling/Disposal Policy on Bowdoin’s Environmental Health and Safety website

**If you have personal batteries at home that need to be recycled, check with your local public works office. For example, Brunswick residents can recycle rechargeable batteries in collection boxes set out at the library, town hall, public works office and the landfill.

How do I recycle dead CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) on campus?

Because fluorescent light bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury, all fluorescent bulbs on campus must be recycled. NEVER dispose of fluorescent bulbs in the trash or in a dumpster. If you have a CFL bulb in your office or dorm room that dies, please leave a note for your housekeeper to bring it to our central accumulation area in Rhodes Hall. The Office of Environmental Health & Safety will make sure it gets properly recycled.  If a CFL bulb should break in a dorm room or office space, campus members can follow these directions for safe clean up provided by EnergyStar or the Maine Bureau of Waste Management.

If you have personal fluorescent bulbs at home that need to be recycled, check with your local public works office. For example, Brunswick residents can recycle fluorescent tube lighting (including CFLs) at the Graham Road Landfill, and CFL bulbs can now be recycled at many retail locations throughout the state, just visit the Efficiency Maine website for a complete list.

When is recycling picked up at College Apartment Complexes?

The Bowdoin apartment complexes (Pine, Harpswell, and Cleaveland Street) use Zero-Sort recycle bins that students need to place outside by the dumpster for pick-up.  Each week the Bowdoin Grounds Department picks up the recyclables on Wednesday morning - please have your bin outside by 9:30am.  To avoid lost or stolen bins, please bring your bin back inside your apartment Wednesday evening.  In the event of a snow storm there will be no pick up.   If you have questions please contact Keisha Payson at cpayson@bowdoin.edu

Who should I call about getting new bins for my work area?

If you feel bins should be located in a different place, or would like some added, place a work order by calling x3333 or e-mailing workorder@bowdoin.edu

What do I do if I see a recycling bin that needs to be emptied?

Place a work order by calling x3333 or e-mailing workorder@bowdoin.edu

How much Zero-Sort recycling does Bowdoin recycle annually?

In 2010 Bowdoin recycled 156 metric tons of Zero-Sort material.  That doesn’t include all the bottles and cans that were redeemed for recycling by the campus community, as well as techno trash, metal, and other recyclable materials that are not part of the Zero-Sort program.

Where can I find tips on reducing waste on campus?

Visit Bowdoin’s Reduce/Reuse website for lots of tips on how to reduce waste on campus.

What's the story with Dan the Can, Bowdoin's recycling mascot?

Dan the Can ventures out on campus to raise awareness about Bowdoin's Zero-Sort recycling program, often with his best buddy, Jan.  Dan and Jan are often seen in the dining halls or at sporting events, spreading the love about Bowdoin's recycling program.  Check out Dan's rockin' video that breaks down Bowdoin's Zero-Sort system.