Since July, the University's single stream recycling effort has been running full speed.
The effort, among other things, has been to "maximize" diversion. This means that the emphasis has been on keeping as much out of the regular trash as possible and to encourage the campus community to embrace a common-heard mantra from John Sagebiel, assistant director of Environmental Health and Safety's Environmental Programs: Rethink; Reduce; Reuse; Recycle; Rebuy (buy recycled-content products to make a market for what is recycled).
So far, the effort is yielding impressive results.
According to Michael Averett, assistant director of Building Services, between 15 and 20 tons of recyclables are being diverted from waste on campus per month. The program's goal is to hit a total of about 200 tons of recyclable materials for its first year.
"We're hoping to educate people about the program, especially about recycling and why it's so important," Averett said. "We want people to understand, so they can help make it a success."
One of the early challenges with single stream recycling has been dealing with ink and toner cartridges and rechargeable batteries (alkaline batteries are considered waste).
The challenge, Averett said, is that people still aren't completely sure what to do with these materials. In the past, campus employees and students would often place ink and toner cartridges in recycling bins, and Sagebiel's team in EH&S would separate the materials from the waste. With the advent of single stream recycling, such universal waste can no longer be placed in recycling bins.
"They can contaminate the single stream," Averett explained, "so they can't go in (the recycling bins)."
Averett said that when ink and toner cartridges or rechargeable batteries become used, hold onto them and contact the EH&S Environmental Program at email@example.com, or call, 327-5041, for pickups. If the ink and toner cartridges are small, they can be place in campus mail and sent to Mail Stop 328.
Common recycling items that can be placed into the large blue bins around campus include all types of paper, cans, bottles, plastics Nos. 1-7, glass bottles, cardboard (flattened) and plastic Starbucks cups (no lids or straws and washed out).
"We have a mandate to recycle on the campus, and we're trying to be good stewards of the University," Averett said. "Our ultimate goal is to educate and inform and try to make the campus more well-informed and conscious about recycling."