This July, millions of people and companies are participating in Plastic Free July, a global initiative that calls upon people to abstain from using disposable plastics for at least a month. In the spirit of the initiative (will you join it?), HSE University Life gives us the rundown on waste sorting at HSE.
In 2016, the student organization, Green HSE, won a grant of 170,000 rubles in HSE’s Student Project Contest. Members of Green HSE were then able to install 15 containers for waste sorting across 10 HSE buildings and dormitories and buy a plastic bottle press.
The locations and accepted items of HSE’s collection points shown here. Collection points accept not only plastic, but also batteries, scrap metal, aluminum, waste paper, and clothes.
What Kinds of Plastic Can be Recycled
Collection points accept only HDPE and PET bottles (1 and 2 types) that are used for beverages, household chemicals, detergents and personal care products. Note that the bottles that you wish to recycle must be rinsed out and squeezed in order to save space during transportation.
Also note that food containers, disposable tableware, oil bottles, plastic with 3-7 markings, and plastic without markings are not recyclable. Green HSE volunteers carefully check the contents of the containers for compliance.
Before you throw away your bottle, don’t forget to remove the cap – they should be thrown into separate boxes. HSE works with the Good Caps project. All funds from plastic cap recycling will be sent to the charity fund Volunteers to Help Orphans.
To raise enough money for one wheelchair for a disabled child, it is necessary to send about 8 tons of caps to the recycling plant. The project has already helped purchase 19 wheelchairs.
When the containers are filled, a special machine takes them to the warehouse on Shabolovskaya Ulitsa, where the waste is pressed and sent to the Tver plant of secondary polymers, where they undergo three stages of recycling: sorting, crushing, and washing with chemicals. The Green HSE volunteers have visited the plant to see the process. Secondary polymers are used for the manufacturing of textile products, furniture and even cars.
First of all, it is important to remember that it’s not recycling plastic that is most effective, but rather not using it in the first place.
Here are a few things you can replace plastic with right now:
Use reusable bags instead of plastic ones
Use lunchboxes and reusable tableware instead of disposable tableware
Use reusable bottles or thermos instead of disposable bottles
Use cloths made of natural materials instead of dish sponges
Use pens with ink rods or pencils instead of disposable pens
Buy vegetable oil in a tin or glass jar instead of oil in plastic bottles
Use sanitizer or tissue handkerchiefs instead of disposable napkins
Head of Green HSE
Being eco-friendly is not as difficult as it seems at first glance. There are now a lot of ways you can lead an environmentally responsible lifestyle, even at our university. For example, we managed to convince several cafeterias to replace plastic tableware with reusable dishes and silverware – this is a big victory!