By Melanie Stewart
UNMC and Nebraska Medicine have a goal to divert 90% of our waste from the landfill by 2030. One of the easiest actions for all individuals to take is recycling an item once it can no longer be used.
We currently recycle 26% of our waste; this is an improvement on our baseline, but we still have a ways to go. Unfortunately for us, China has decided to be more selective on the waste/recycling they take from other countries. While very little recycling from Omaha ends up there, this change has created a domino effect that does impact us. The change that is the most important to note is contamination. If recycling streams contain too much contamination the entire load will be sent to the landfill. Contamination can occur in 2 ways; having trash/recyclables in the wrong stream (pop can in the paper container, or potato chip bag in the plastic container) or trash mixed in with recycling. This is most common is food/drink still in the item.
Do I need to wash my recyclables before placing in a bin? In short, no. Beverage containers need to have the liquids emptied, but they don’t need to be rinsed/washed. Food needs to be removed and soiled items (greasy pizza box, etc.) should be placed in the trash. Containers don’t need to be washed, just get the bulk of the food/sauce out. E.g. eat all the yogurt, no need to clean, or use your napkin to dump the lasagna you didn’t eat into the trash, no reason to wash it.
We’ve made good progress, but have work to do.
Remember the basics:
Other items can be recycled at the Med Center; including aerosol cans, furniture, electronics and toner cartridges. For more information see the LiveGreen Recycling page.
Thank you for helping us get to our Zero Waste goal!