Program takes off

By By Arthur Raymond

By Arthur Raymond

About 10,000 recycling containers ranging from curbside bins to office-sized waste cans have been placed around campus as part of a new recycling effort.

Plant Operations employee Will Chatwin said recycling on campus isn’t revolutionary, but that Plant Operations is coordinating it on a campus-wide scale for the first time.

“Recycling has been happening on campus for a long time, but in a disjointed fashion,” Chatwin said. “The new program strives to create a single, focused effort.”

The new bins were added following a campus waste analysis conducted by the Cascadia Consulting Group, a Seattle, Wash.-based firm that specializes in environmental management issues.

The Cascadia study found that a large part of campus-generated waste comes from recyclable paper products.

In response, plant operations employees have placed new containers to accommodate paper waste.

These include “office pack” bins for waste typically generated in office settings, “mixed paper” bins for areas that generate a variety of paper waste and cardboard collection containers for areas that accumulate mostly cardboard waste.

Chatwin said the expansion came about as a result of a close collaboration between U administrators and student advocates.

“The real success of the program hinges on each person (on campus) taking personal responsibility to make the effort,” he said.

Chatwin said there are still kinks in the way recyclables are collected, mostly due to waste disposal contracts that are specific to certain areas of campus, such as the Residence Halls and the Union.

These logistical challenges are not impeding the whole effort, however. The expansion of the new program is already being implemented as areas “max out” their current containers, Chatwin said.

He said they have already added extra bins in locations which exceed their available recycling capacity, and will continue to monitor volumes and make adjustments as necessary.

Cory Higgins, the U’s director of plant operations, said that most of the non-academic facilities on campus will be participating in the program. Residence Halls will be recycling this fall, as well as the University Bookstore, Union, Rice-Eccles Stadium and Huntsman Center.

Higgins noted that at current market rates for recyclable waste, the program will function at a “break-even” status. If fluctuations in the market create a profit margin for the program, those revenues would be re-invested in expansion efforts.

Both Higgins and Chatwin said the program will be relying on students and faculty to recognize recycling labels, and avoiding contaminating containers with non-recyclables or incorrectly separated recyclables.

While the initial recycling focus is on paper waste, future expansions will increase the availability of containers for cans, glass and plastics.

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