Environmental responsibility - recycling

I know this is topic that’s come up now and again, I’ve looked through the old threads, there doesn’t appear to be a current one.
VEX is awesome in so many ways. But one area I think they fall short is in their environmental responsibilities. It seems weird to teach our students important new life lessons like coding and engineering and team dynamics etc etc BUT do it with tons of non-reusable - and sometimes non-recyclable - field elements. I don’t remember seeing recycling codes on the pieces, although other threads have said some parts do, not many.

I hope someone from VEX reads these posts. Please, give us clear guidance on how to recycle the pieces, and only use plastics that can be easily recyclable. I really do feel you have this obligation, as an educational company. Hopefully I’m not alone in thinking this!


The problem is that only 9% of plastic is recycled and that quantity is typically downcycled - meaning ground up and repurposed into another product - because there isn’t a good process to melt it back down into something new.

The volume of plastic that a game generates, which is utilized for a whole year, is tiny compared to the average 110lbs (50kg ) per person the US uses annually. Everyone has to do their part to help but there are bigger opportunities to make an impact.

Some suggestions include making the game elements from another material or asking the GDC to design games from a library of shapes to reduce the need for production.

I suspect that the future generations will find a way to make a plastic-like material out of organic materials.


Looking at this year’s VIQC game elements, they’ve already taken your advice. Aside from the pipe, all the game-specific field elements were already in production, including the repurposed riser piece.


I’d like to think a company that deals in such future looking products and education would still be able to lead rather than follow. Yes I know overall recycling isn’t all it could be, but if made from the right materials, and if we are clearly indicated what those materials are, they could do their bit as good corporate citizens. And we as educators can help drive the message home to the next generation through their actions.

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That’s great news, I haven’t checked it out yet.

The thing is, you can use these pieces again. I plan on using last year’s wedge pieces under the low goal bar on my collection system. And VEX has many protocols that help regulate the use of plastic and do everything they can to help the environment.

Do you know where I would find those protocols? It’s great if they are considering it, but if the end consumer doesn’t know, it’s of limited use. Plus, regulations are going to be different all across the world.
In Australia at least, most plastics can be recycled but they need to be reasonably clean - not full of screws and other materials - and also identifiable. Every piece should be clearly labelled as to its composition. Luckily they seem to always use the same or similar screws, so we can get students help take them apart. Who doesn’t like taking things apart!?

As to reusing the game elements - there’s only so many year’s worth you can store! We stored them for a long time but after about 5 years there’s just too much.

I’ve heard that it takes more carbon to recycle something than to just make it again. Recycling is a sham created by plastic companies to sell more plastic. Usually, companies will only recycle things just for a PR campaign, and not out of genuine enviornmental concern. There’s much better ways to help the enviornment than recycling. They could invest in some kind of green energy competition for high schoolers/college students, with VEX being such a big engineering ground it could do very well. A good use of money, since it gives experience to people and actually does lead to good things.

I think my local subway perfectly encapsulates what recycling is: there’s two holes in this trash box thing. One for trash, the other for recycling. They lead to the same exact bin.


This information is all fake. The people who made recycling were a committee (The National Waste and Recycling Association) made to help battle the problem. Also, not all plastic is recyclable, only certain kinds. All recycling is done by separate programs then plastic manufactures. Also,

that is not true. The thing is, plastic loses quality every time it is used. After about 5 times, it is used for something else like the lining of a ski jacket. Maybe total it is bigger, but for each it is much less. And it takes much less energy. Plastic comes from oil. Oil. That has to be mined. Mined. From the middle of the ocean. Then transported, made into plastic, sent to producers, and then sent to wholesalers. That is a lot more energy than just making plastic. It also adds up really quickly. Where as recycled, you just melt it down. If you owned a company, would you buy hot, fresh off the line plastic for $1.20 a box or recycled for 30 cents? Keep in mind you have to pay employees and buy new equipment. Next time, research before you post, please.


Literally. MIT School of Engineering | » Why is it cheaper to make new plastic bottles than to recycle old ones? the third link in google mate. Come on now.

Also I have no clue why I said that companies made recycling to sell more plastic, I think for some reason I was thinking of single use plastics. That was factually true, im just dumb apparently lol.

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Questionable wording there with a bit of antagonization. Please take the time to make more quality posts. I also went onto google and did a bit of research. The amount of energy it takes to recycle plastic depends on each plastic and how much processing it needs to go through. Though your statement is half right, your source isn’t the most solid (written in 2009 with not the most neutral writing).


eh, I interpreted how he worded as more egotistical than it might have been. This IS the internet, hard to tell what people are saying by words on a screen only, especially since I’m bad at social cues irl. and I’ve been trying to get information about past turrets and x drive code, so I just didn’t give a five paragraph essay, have more important things to do. however yes, I do believe I have been proven relatively wrong. though i still wanna have that green energy engineering program >_>

I think the conclusion to this is that we should keep pushing for greener plastic parts from the GDC, and individually work with our teams to be greener. For example, I know this is IQ, but in my VRC team, we are reusing the tipping point MOGOs as stands. :grinning:


I can totally see why it might be cheaper and more reliable for companies to use oil to create new plastics rather than take recycled material - it kinda makes sense when you consider the roadblocks and labor involved in sorting it etc. But that’s exactly why we should all do better, and companies like VEX should lead, rather than follow. The more things are standardized, and the more systems are developed and demanded to deal with the issue, the better it will get. I’m sure an engineer could tell you why we have 50 different kinds of plastic that all do almost the same job but are incompatible with each other, but I can’t work it out! And parts can be designed to be more easily dismantled, better labelled, and standardized. Also, the big part that the article you linked doesn’t tackle is what happens to plastics if they aren’t recycled - the answer is not much happens to them, they just hang around for centuries, slowly poisoning soil and waterways and killing wildlife. So whether its economic or not, we have to get on board. Yes thanks for the support those who have posted, I hope VEX are watching and taking notes.

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Yeah, just hopefully they don’t do it solely for internet brownie points or money. We’re looking at you apple for not putting chargers in their shipped phones-


…And Samsung and others. That’s actually a good scheme if people don’t feel the need to go out and buy a new one so they can keep up with the Jones’s - but most people will do that, and hence it ends up being more expensive and more wasteful… but I digress…

Re-using is the best. We usually donate many elements to Head Start or other child care centers. They are very much appreciated.

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