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Information for Students > Sustainability at Rush > Frequently Asked Questions About Recycling at Rush
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1) What goes in each bin?
2) Why do I have to empty my bottle or can?
3) Why can't napkins go in the paper recycling bin?
4) How do I know if my plastic container is recyclable?
5) When will there be recycling in my area?
6) Why are we using biodegradable containers instead of Styrofoam in the cafeteria?
7) Are the cafeteria disposable plates, cups and to-go containers recyclable?
8) What other things will Rush be doing to become more sustainable?
9) Why can't I recycle batteries at Rush?
10) Where can I recycle my old cell phone?
11) How can I recycle paper from individual offices?
12) Are there recycling containers at the Au Bon Pain locations throughout the Medical Center?
13) Where can I recycle the empty ink cartridge from my office?
14) Do the documents in the protected health information shredding boxes get recycled?
15) Does Rush recycle medical waste?
16) Is the recycling from the TOB separated from the trash even though the items are placed in the same bin?
17) Can I recycle cardboard at Rush?
18) Is recycling available at Center Court Gardens?
19) Do employees who drive energy-efficient cars to Rush receive any special advantages in the new parking garage?
20) Can biking to Rush save me money?
21) If I do cycle to Rush, where can I safely park my bicycle?
22) How can I recycle floppy discs and computer accessories?


1) What goes in each bin?

  • Green bin or bin labeled Glass-Plastic-Aluminum: empty plastic bottles and other plastics [except plastic bags, #6 plastics and corn-based plastics (marked PE)]; empty aluminum and tin cans; clean aluminum foil; and glass
  • Blue bin or bin labeled Mixed Paper: Colored paper, white paper, newspaper and magazines
  • Grey bin or bin labeled Landfill: All other products such as food waste, napkins, coffee cups, plastic bags and non-recyclable plastic (#6 and containers marked PE).

*Note: Please make sure each bottle or can is empty (preferably rinsed) when placing in the recycling container. Cardboard boxes can be placed by paper recycling bins and will be recycled as well.

2) Why do I have to empty my bottle or can?

In order for Rush to be able to recycle bottles and cans, the items have to be clean. The recycling company is less able to process recyclable materials when they are contaminated with food and/or drink waste. The recycled materials may become trash if they are not properly emptied and ideally rinsed out. In addition, we risk fruit flies colonizing our trash cans if food or drink waste provides a food source for them in the recycling bins. That will endanger our ability to continue this program.

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3) Why can't napkins go in the paper recycling bin?

Paper napkins are typically contaminated with food waste. This would degrade the quality of any paper made from this source. The quality of paper in napkins is also below the grade that manufacturers of recycled paper products want, so paper napkins need to be put in the trash bin.

4) How do I know if my plastic container is recyclable?
If you look on the bottom of the container there will be a triangle with a number in it. If the number is anything except six (styrofoam) or contains a PE, it can be recycled here at Rush. If the number is six (styrofoam) or contains a PE, it cannot be recycled at Rush. If the number is not listed on the bottom of the bottle, check the sides or near the top. If there is no number, it cannot be recycled. We expect #1 and #2 plastics to be the most common types recycled at Rush.

#1: Soda bottles, water bottles, vinegar bottles, medicine containers, backing for photography film.

#2

#2: Containers for milk, laundry/dish detergent, fabric softeners, bleach, shampoo, conditioner, and motor oil.

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5) When will there be recycling in my area?

Eventually, we expect to have recycling in all areas of the Medical Center campus. Currently, there is recycling in the Triangle Office Building (TOB), the Armour Academic Center, the cafeteria, the central kitchen and Room 500, and there are recycling kiosks in the lobbies of the Cohn, Professional, Jelke and Atrium buildings. The next phase of the recycling rollout will include other buildings on campus and will start during the fall of 2009 and winter of 2010. Recycling in the Professional Office Building is conditional on getting a recycling dumpster. Each building has different regulations about where recycling containers can be placed. The new hospital has recycling stations being designed into the floorplans. More information will be available prior to specific building implementation.

6) Why are we using biodegradable containers instead of Styrofoam in the cafeteria?

Currently all disposable cups, plates and to-go containers used in the cafeteria are biodegradable. These biodegradable items break down in the landfill within 30 days. They are more costly than Styrofoam (#6), so there is an extra charge when requesting a to-go container in the cafeteria to help cover this cost.

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7) Are the cafeteria disposable plates, cups and to-go containers recyclable?

All the cafeteria products are biodegradable, not recyclable, and need to be placed in trash bins or on the cafeteria tray return belt. These products are made from corn starch and will break down in a landfill within 30 days. The staff in the dish room retrieve all recyclable materials from the trays placed on the belt in the cafeteria.

8) What other things will Rush be doing to become more sustainable?

Currently, Rush's Green Team is exploring many options on how the Medical Center can become more sustainable and for ways to better conserve energy and water. Many components of the new East Tower and student/staff parking garage will be environmentally friendly. Additionally, the Food and Nutrition Services Department uses a pulper machine to reduce its trash volume by 80 percent. We are exploring options for reducing the amount of trash by use of more permanent ware such as reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, etc. The vendor that provides shredding services for the medical center reports that they recycle 98% of the paper that they receive. We are pleased that our vendor has been able to expand the types of plastics they can recycle -- basically everything that is marked with a recycling code except #6 (styrofoam), corn-plastics (marked PE),??and plastic bags. Bags are technically recyclable but they gum up the works at our sorting plant. Supermarkets often have bins to collect plastic bags for recycling.

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9) Why can't I recycle batteries at Rush?

The Rush battery recycling program was expanded a few years ago to include unregulated alkaline batteries. With recent changes in the Department of Transportation's shipping regulations, all batteries are now required to be packaged individually before shipping to a recycling facility. Due to the time, considerable costs and additional waste generation associated with complying with this new regulation, Rush will no longer be collecting alkaline batteries for recycling.


If you have regulated batteries (e.g. lead acid, nickel cadmium, lithium) for disposal that originated from Rush equipment, contact the Occupational Safety Office at ext. 2-7233 for pick-up or drop-off instructions. As alkaline batteries are not regulated, they can be disposed of in the regular trash. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you dispose them a couple at a time.


Many of you have service contracts with vendors for equipment that either runs on batteries or has battery backup. Always keep in mind when discussing a service contract with a vendor to inquire whether they have a battery-recycling program as part of their service.


For those of you interested in recycling batteries from your homes you can participate in the City's household battery recycling program at all Chicago Public Libraries and Walgreen's stores. All common dry-cell batteries can be recycled, including alkaline, rechargeable, and other common types with the exception of wet-cell batteries, like car batteries.

These long-term facilities are available for disposal of Household Hazardous Waste, including batteries. Please phone ahead to determine availability and hours of operation. A few locations are listed below.

a) City of Chicago:

The Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility is located at 1150 N. North Branch on Goose Island. For more info contact the City of Chicago by dialing 311, or for general info, 312-744-7672.

b) Lake County:

The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) currently operates a long-term household chemical waste collection program. Information and a collection schedule can be found on the SWALCO Web site, or by calling 847-336-9340.

c) Naperville:

Fire Station #4 is located at 1971 Brookdale Rd. For information call 630-420-4190.

d) Rockford:

The Rock River Reclamation District is located at 3333 Kishwaukee. For information call 815-987-5570.)

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10) Where can I recycle my old cell phone?

It is easy to recycle your cell phone at Rush. Raquel Carrasco and Sandy Hasson, nurses in the ambulatory surgery unit, Atrium Building, fourth floor, collect cell phones (in any condition) and donate them to Shalva, a local agency for battered women. Shalva upgrades the phones, with direct 9-1-1 access and distributes them free to women in potentially threatening situations. The agency may also send extra cell phones to the Shelter Alliance Co. of Florida, which pays between $1 and $20 per phone, depending on the model. The agency uses these proceeds to support its clients. For more information, please contact the nurses at ext. 2-8714.

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11) How can I recycle paper from individual offices?

As this time, we do not have a program specifically for each individual office. You can, however, take paper to the nearest recycling container in hallways of the Medical Center for recycling. Cardboard boxes can be broken down (flattened) and left behind or next to the recycling bins for pickup by Environmental Services staff. Paper put in containers for shredding is also recycled.

12) Are there recycling containers at the Au Bon Pain locations throughout the Medical Center?

Yes. Au Bon Pain does recycle. Currently, all of its locations have a co-mingled container for plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminum cans.

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13) Where can I recycle the empty ink cartridge from my office?

Office Max, the supplier of the laser ink cartridges throughout the Medical Center, will recycle the used cartridge and either reuse it or send it off to be recycled. If you have an empty cartridge, return it to the Office Max representative who delivers your supplies or place it in the shipping container that is given to you when you receive your cartridge the first time.

14) Do the documents in the protected health information shredding boxes get recycled?
Yes. All the paper shredded in the protected health information collection bins is recycled after it has been shredded.FERPA-protected and material which should be considered confidential for business reasons should also be put in the shredding boxes for recycling.

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15) Does Rush recycle medical waste?
No. Technically after the waste is treated, you could probably recycle the plastics, which our waste vendor has attempted. There currently is not a market for the plastics, however, as people are concerned about product liabilities and using medical waste to manufacture new goods.

16) Is the recycling from the Triangle Office Building (TOB) separated from the trash even though the items are placed in the same bin?
Yes. Recycling in the TOB is separated when it is taken to the Allied Waste reclamation facility. The vast majority of the trash created in the TOB is paper and therefore creates a greater amount of recyclable material.

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17) Can I recycle cardboard at Rush?
Yes. Corrugated cardboard at the Medical Center is recyclable as long as it does not have a waxed coating. Cardboard boxes should be broken down (flattened) and placed in or next to one of the blue or mixed-paper containers.

18) Is recycling available at Center Court Gardens?
Yes. Every apartment has been provided a blue collection bin. This will be used for mixed paper, all numbered plastics except #6 and PE containers, and cans. There are large bins near the dumpsters where these can be emptied.

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19) Do employees who drive energy-efficient cars to Rush receive any special advantages in the new parking garage?
Employees who drive hybrid or energy-efficient cars will have the opportunity to take advantage of preferred parking in the new staff and student garage. Twenty-five parking spots have been reserved for energy-efficient vehicles on a first-come, first-serve basis next to the elevator on the second floor. All hybrid cars are eligible to park in this section, as well as other energy-efficient cars recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy as LEED-certified. You can view a list of these LEED-certified cars on the Rush intranet.

Additionally, a placard for your dashboard is required to park a LEED-certified car in one of these spaces, and the spaces will be monitored. A printable copy also is available on the intranet. You can also stop by the parking office on the ground floor of the main parking garage, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. for a free copy.

20) Can biking to Rush save me money?
Add up how much you now have to pay in gas, tolls, parking fees and vehicle maintenance. Clearly, you can save a substantial amount by riding your bike to the Medical Center campus.

Visit Kiplinger.com to use their "How Much Can I Save Bicycling to Work?" calculator.

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21) If I do cycle to Rush, where can I safely park my bicycle?
Three bike storage options are available to Rush employees and students who cycle to our campus.

Storage Room: The main parking garage on the ground level of section C offers a storage room for riders with space for 40 to 50 bikes. This room features electronic keys and security cameras and requires a refundable deposit of $10 for the key. For more information, please contact the parking office at ext. 2-6594.

Covered Racks: The main parking garage offers free access to covered bicycle racks near the employee entrance. This highly visible, covered area includes security cameras and is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Sidewalk Racks: There are several locations around the campus equipped with bike racks, including the Woman's Board Center for Radiation Therapy, just west of the Atrium Building, and free-standing racks on Paulina Street. At the time this was written, the covered racks south of the Professional Office Buildings were temporarily unavailable while work was being done to the ceiling.

22) How can I recycle floppy discs and computer accessories?

Most desktop and many laptop computers at Rush can no longer read microfloppy (3.5") discs. Perhaps you have a cache of them in your office or at home and want to recycle them.

First, if there is sensitive data about Rush or personal information that should not be circulated on these discs, they should be erased here before recycling.

Floppydisc.com's recycling program has been extended to run through December 31, 2011. Send them your old diskettes and they recycle them for use. It is not necessary to erase or reformat the disks. They will erase the data and reformat the diskettes on their end. Just ship your discs to:

Floppydisk Recycle Program
2620 Walnut Ave Unit D
Tustin, CA 92780-7028

If you have 500 or more disks to recycle, they will pay 2 cents each for discs (which may cover the shipping cost to get them to California). If you send fewer than 500 discs, there is no payment made. They also buy new unused floppy disks. For more information, you can email them at info@floppydisk.com

The GreenDisk Technotrash Pack-IT Service is designed to address the problem of how to recycle small amounts of technotrash. Concerns about data security and environmental responsibility are met by their well-defined recycling procedures and comprehensive audit trail. You can have them process 20 pounds of waste for $6.95 (and $0.30 more for each additional pound). You can dispose of most computer-related waste that fits into your box. That includes anything from a floppy disc, zip disc, and CD to cords, printer cartridges, mice, as well as broken digital cameras, MP3 players, or cell phones. You can also send them rechargeable batteries.

Simply put your technotrash into a box, estimate the weight of your box, order the Pack-IT Service off their website, print out the shipping label, and send the box off to GreenDisk using your preferred shipper at your convenience. All content on media is destroyed and all of the physical materials are disposed of in an environmentally-responsible manner.

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Have questions, or want to share your story about why recycling is important to you? Send an e-mail to rush_recycles@rush.edu.



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