Fairfield University's "Gimme 5" program to rid #5 plastics from University's waste stream


Fairfield University is on the leading edge of recycling Number 5 plastics. The University's Earth House and Student Environmental Association launched today the "Gimme 5" program to take Number 5 plastics out of the campus waste stream. Number 5 plastics are rarely recycled, and products packaged with #5 plastics are commonplace, such as hummus, margarine and take-out food containers, as well as yogurt-like cups.

Alexandra Gross, a resident of Earth House, where four seniors have been living an eco-friendly and sustainable life as part of the University's "Living and Learning" initiative, said the program is a student-driven project. "Fairfield is one of the first universities in the country to have this program, so it's an exciting opportunity."

Four "Gimme 5" collection bins have been placed in the Barone Campus Center for the campus community to recycle their clean Number 5 plastics. Two other bins are located next to the Earth House in the Apartments and in Loyola Hall. The recycled items will be sent to Preserve, a company that turns recyclables into stylish toothbrushes, razors, cutting boards and other everyday items. When Number 5 plastics are deemed past their use, they are also "upcycled" into plastic wood for use in playgrounds, park benches and deck construction.

The thirteen-year-old company was founded by people who saw that the plastic recycling market presented an opportunity to reuse the earth's resources; plastics are made from oil and natural gas - making up roughly 9% of the world's petroleum usage.

The "Gimme 5" program comes on the heels of other significant green measures at Fairfield. This week, the University permanently removed disposable paper cups from the dining hall. Students will be given reusable thermoses in an effort to reduce waste. Last fall, trays were eliminated from the dining hall to cut down on food and beverage waste.

As part of Earth Week, taking place through Sunday, April 26, University students are also hosting "Denim Drive," a recycling event underway in conjunction with the Center for Green Building in Bridgeport. Students are collecting blue jeans, and ask people to drop their old jeans off in the blue bin next to the Barone Campus Center Information Desk. "Your jeans will become housing insulation, which is pretty cool," said Gross.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 22, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 316