Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Recycling: How Are We Doing and How Can We Improve?

Chittenden Solid Waste District requires that every resident, business and institution in the county separates recyclables from their trash (Solid Waste Management Ordinance).   On campus, we’ve been working hard over the past few years to make Recycling SUPER EASY!

In the Office of Sustainability, we have been working over the years to create a Recycling/Trash system that requires the same amount of effort (even less!) to recycle items as it does to send items to the landfill.  It’s up to you to send the item to its appropriate destination.

With that said, how have we been doing over the years?
Overall, since 2007 the tonnage of items we send to the landfill has been trending downward while tonnage of recyclable items has been increasing.   Our recycling rate has also more than doubled since 2007.

Sounds good right?  Yes, but there’s more to it than that.  While recycling tonnage has steadily been increasing, it concerns me that from 2010-2011 our trash tonnage is on the rise again.  In a “perfect” world, our trash would continue to decrease and recycling continue to increase while eventually both leveling off (when we would essentially be recycling 100% of what could be recycled on campus) and consuming very very little of what has to be sent to the landfill when no longer serving its intended purpose.  

The easy part now is making sure what can be recycled is recycled (if anyone looks in the trash and recycling containers scattered about campus it is clear that we aren’t doing an A+ job on this).  So let’s roll up our sleeves and be a bit more conscientious about how we dispose of items.

Everyone should be A+ recyclers!  Here’s a snapshot of our easy on-campus system to make this possible: 
  • BLUE bins are for recycling ; Black bins for Trash
  • All-in-one system: you don’t have to sort the different recyclables, they can all go together in a recycling bin (paper, cardboard, glass, plastic 1-7 etc…)
  • Recycling bins/receptacles are everywhere!:
     ---every building, every floor in the hallways (several on each floor), in your offices, next to trash bins, every class room  [recycling bins have been known to walk away from their location, so if there’s a spot that needs a recycling container let me know!]
    ---Residence Halls/Townhouses: in your dorm room, on each floor in the Trash/Recycling rooms
    ---Outside – Green Up SMC over the years has purchased 6 outdoor recycling receptacles
  • **NO Styrofoam-- NO plastic bags-- NO plastic wrapping—NO paper coffee cups**
    --Detailed list:

    Posters that have pictures of what can be recycled are posted in Residence Halls and above
    most hallway recycling bins.  Here’s a quick run-down of what goes in your BLUE bin:
          --- Glass Bottles & Jars

          --- plastic containers, emptied of contents (must be labeled #1-7)
          --- metal food & beverage cans & aluminum
          --- mixed paper
  • Think about what you purchase, part of being better recyclers is also being better consumers.  Do you really need all that stuff??  For example, if you print a lot of brochures and you find yourself having boxes and boxes left unopened when it’s time to update that brochure, stop and think if perhaps you can reduce the number you print (save paper and money!--- both on the cost of printing it but also on the cost of disposal)
  • Remember the 3 R’s: first REDUCE, then REUSE, and then RECYCLE

And finally, we can all increase the college’s recycling rate by reminding each other to properly recycle on campus and being the wonderful role models we are for another.

Pictured: Facilities Director, Dave Cutler, telling Vice President of Finance & Administration, Neal Robinson, that newspapers do not go in trash bins, they go in the blue recycling bins.  Recycling mishap averted thanks to one colleague looking out for the other!

(Please note that it is highly possible this picture was staged and Neal does in fact know how to recycle)

-If you need a recycling bin,
-if you want a recycling bin decal sticker
-if you want a Recycling picture poster for your office/building
-if you have questions regarding recycling
Contact Heather Lynch, Sustainability Coordinator,

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