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Regular version of the site

Plastic Free July

Waste Sorting at HSE University

Image by Artur Konik from Pixabay

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.

30 kg
of caps were collected at HSE University in 2018

From Rags to Riches

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.

335 kg
of plastic was sent for recycling by volunteers of Green HSE in 2018

What to Use Instead of Your Usual Plastic Things

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

Maria Shurupova

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!

Author: Yulia Giatsintova, July 23, 2018