School of Mines students tackle recycling challenge

School of Mines students tackle recycling challenge

In Their Own Words

Special Guest
Laura Levesque, Recycle Colorado

When students from the Colorado School of Mines offer fresh perspectives on solving complicated recycling challenges, we listen! This semester, I have the pleasure of working with ten students on the problem of separating plastic labels from aluminum cans. It is often difficult to tell if your favorite canned beverage has a plastic label. These plastic coverings (while great for branding) cause sorting difficulties at our recycling centers and damage equipment at the aluminum mills.

Sophomores and juniors are applying their studies in engineering physics and metallurgical and material engineering to address this real-world beverage can recycling challenge. I coached these students on the overall problem and shared a variety of perspectives from stakeholders who participated in previous Recycle Colorado round-table discussions.


Students present their potential solutions to the plastic-labeled-can recycling challenge October 7 at the Colorado School of Mines.

Each team analyzed the information and hypothesized three potential solutions. With the help of other Recycle Colorado members, I helped each team prioritize one solution to pursue as their Cornerstone project. These students are now in the process of designing a prototype that will be used for preliminary testing in November.

It is a joy seeing ingenuity in action. I am pleased to be helping these students throughout their semester project and to be an anchor for their engagement with the recycling community. Stay tuned for the end results.

Laura Levesque, Programs Director
Recycle Colorado
[email protected]

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