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Plastic Film Specialty Recycling at Tufts

Ever wondered if there was a way you could recycle all those grocery bags building up under the sink? What about those plastic-padded envelopes you get from Amazon?

Soft filmy plastics like these are not recyclable in the conventional recycling bins at Tufts, but fear not! Starting in 2018, Tufts developed a partnership with Trex so that members of the Tufts community can specialty recycle plastic film on campus. Trex then recycles plastic film into wooden products such as decks and benches.  As Trex notes on their website, "The average 500-square foot composite Trex deck contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags!"

Where can I recycle plastic film at Tufts?

There are public plastic film specialty recycling bins (see picture below) located around campus, including the following locations:

  • Mayer Campus Center, 1st Floor
  • Hill Hall Mail Services
  • Sci Tech, 4 Colby St (one on each floor; 3 bins total)
  • Barnum Hall, 2nd Floor (Office of Sustainability)

View more information about bin locations, including pictures, on the Eco-Map. 

What can I put in the plastic film bins?

The following items can be placed in these specialty recycling bins (make sure they're clean and dry!):

  • Grocery bags
  • Zip-loc bags
  • Bubble wrap and air pillows
  • Blue and white plastic padded envelopes from Amazon
  • Cereal bags, bread bags, ice bags, salt bags, and produce bags
  • Newspaper sleeves
  • Case overwrap (e.g. for water bottle cases or paper towel stacks)
  • When in doubt, look for #2 or #4 within the recycling triangle

The following items are not accepted in the plastic film specialty recycling bins: grape bags, pre-washed salad mix bags, tan-colored plastic padded envelopes, re-sealable granola bags, re-sealable cold cuts and cheese containers. Please place these items in the trash.

Why is plastic film specialty recycling important?

When you specialty recycle plastic film items at Tufts, they are recycled into composite wooden products such as decks and benches.

It is important that soft filmy plastics like these are not placed in the normal recycling bins at Tufts because when this happens, they get caught in the machinery at the recycling facility. This can damage the equipment, shut things down costing time and money, and pose a safety hazard to the people working at the facility. If you are unable to put plastic film items into a specialty recycling bin, please place these items in the trash.

What if I cannot access any of the plastic film specialty recycling bins on campus?

If you cannot access a specialty recycling bin on campus, you can also recycle plastic film at many local grocery stores. You can find a participating store in your area by searching for your zip code here.

Trex Plastic Film Specialty Recycling Bin

Plastic Film Sign (Click to Download)