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Frequently Asked Questions

Did we miss your question? E-mail us at environment@holycross.edu, and continue to watch this space for new questions and answers.

Q: What do we recycle at Holy Cross?
A: Facilities accepts paper products, plastic, glass bottles and cans.

Q: Can paper and bottles and cans be collected in the same bins?
A: Yes, unlike many institutions, all recycling materials can go into a single container unless specifically marked containers are located in the space. It is essential that the liquid containers are empty and do not spill into the receptacle. Many containers, particularly soda cans, still contain a small amount of liquid when empty. When liquids such as soda have been spilled onto recyclable paper, the paper is considered “dirty,” and will be rejected as trash by most domestic paper mills.

Q: Do the custodians dump the recycling material in with the regular trash?
A: All trash bags on campus are orange. Correspondingly, the custodians and housekeepers also use orange bags to collect trash and clear bags to collect recyclables, which allows them to see that the recyclables are clean. All custodians and housekeepers are instructed to keep the materials separated.

Q: I saw my custodian emptying the recycling bins into a large trash bag. Is all our recycling just getting trashed?
A: All custodians are instructed to not put recyclables in the trash. In residence halls, if a bin is full, custodians will occasionally empty the bins into trash bags and store the full bags in another part of the building until they are removed from the building. In offices, custodians should be emptying the desk-side trash and recycling containers into separate trash bags on their carts. The material is then brought to the recycling area in the warehouse where it is sorted and prepared for shipment. If you truly believe the recyclables are being thrown away, please contact Environmental Services at x2454 so that we can address the issue appropriately.

Q: Why don’t we recycle more types of items?
A: In order for recycling of a specific item to be cost effective, the volume of that material available for recycling must be large enough so that the recycling facility can economically sort, store, and market the material. Once this hurdle is overcome, markets must exist for the material, otherwise the product that has been collected won’t get recycled. Lastly, some products for which there are sufficient volumes and markets pose a problem in the collection process (such as plastic bags). The materials that Holy Cross recycles, particularly those collected by Building Services, are the only materials that are currently cost-effective to recycle on campus. Holy Cross continues to explore opportunities to expand the types of items that are recyclable on campus.

Q: Why don’t we see more recycling bins around campus?
A: The simple answer to this question is space. Recycle bins should be in designated areas that are not available in many buildings. Containers can be safety hazards if they are located in emergency egress paths. This explains why there are recycling containers in all offices so Building Services can put the material directly into bags for removal.

Q: My building’s recycling bin is full, how can I get it picked up?
A: Call Building Services at x2454 and workers will be dispatched to pick it up.

Q: Is it possible to request an extra bin when our office cleans out files?
A: Absolutely. You may make your request by calling Building Services at x2454. They can deliver an extra bin or two (depending on your needs). Please help us to help you by giving us a few days notice.

Q: Can I get a recycling bin for my room?
A: Yes, you may make your request by calling Building Services at x2454. 

Q: Can I set up a recycling program for my department?
Yes, please contact Building services at x2454. The staff will work with you to create an efficient program.

Q: Why can’t we recycle pizza boxes?
A: Most empty pizza boxes also include grease and cheese, both of which are considered contaminants when mixed with recyclable paper. Please refrain from placing pizza boxes in recycling bins.

Q: Do I have to rinse my containers?
A: All containers should be empty, and food containers should be rinsed clean whenever possible. Please remember that sticky or dirty containers can generate odor as well as attract insects and/or rodents.

Q: Why are there so many restrictions on what can and can’t be recycled?
A: The restrictions on recyclable materials make a lot more sense if you think of recyclables as a raw material in the manufacturing process. Because what we’re throwing away will eventually be used to make a new product, the restrictions reflect the demand from manufacturing plants for the type of material they need to make their products.

Q: My question isn’t on this list of FAQs. Who can I call?
A: Contact Building services at x2454.

Q: Recycling is a lot more interesting than I thought, where can I find more information?
A: Much information about recycling can be found on the Internet using your favorite search engine. For more information on recycling in Massachusetts, visit https://www.mass.gov/waste-and-recycling; for more general information, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/rrr/recycle.htm