Single-stream recycling program keeps extra 12 tons of materials out of landfill so far
The single-stream recycling pilot program the University of Louisville launched in early February has captured an extra 12 tons of material that otherwise would have gone to a landfill.
Employees taking part in the program have been asked to discard used paper, cardboard, plastic aluminum and glass in a personal recycling bin in their offices and to use small green "mini-bins" for food waste, Styrofoam, used tissues and other non-recyclable garbage.
Single-stream recycling allows people to discard all of their recyclable items into a single bin. At UofL, Physical Plant workers collect the mixed recyclable material from individual offices and send it to a private company off-site for sorting and recycling.
Employees empty their own small green mini-bins into containers that are marked "TRASH…This is all the garbage we make" which are located in break areas and restrooms.
So far, around 1,500 UofL employees in 34 buildings on Belknap Campus have received mini-bins, said recycling coordinator Aaron Boggs. The university expects to extend the program to all campus buildings by the end of the year.
"We'd like to have a year under our belt before we do a full evaluation, but the initial numbers show that it seems to be working," Boggs said.
Most employees have received single-stream recycling well, said Boggs, who has visited people in all participating buildings to explain the program.
"The program makes it easier for people to recycle," he said. "They don't have to stop and think, 'Now where am I supposed to put this aluminum can?' They can just throw all of their recyclables in the same bin, and their custodian comes and empties the bin for them."
Some employees were skeptical that the mini-bin would truly hold all of the garbage they make in a day, but they have found that it does.
"I don't wait until mine's full. I empty it every Friday," said Alice Wissel, administrative assistant in the Office of University Advancement, who admitted to having doubts about the mini-bin's size when the program began.
Physical Plant has led UofL's recycling efforts since 1991, dealing with waste ranging from cardboard to construction debris. In 2009, UofL diverted nearly 45 percent of its waste from landfills - a figure that would have been higher had it not been for items that had to be thrown away due to damage from the Aug. 4 flood.
Units or individuals who want to work with Physical Plant to bring the program to their buildings can contact Boggs at 852-8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.