Purdue recycling efforts improve
Alan Farrester (left) and Mark Houser, refuse and recycling equipment operators, collect office recycling on campus. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
During a building deputy meeting in November, Gary Evans, director of Grounds, and Terry Ashlock, director of Building Services, presented a recycling update showing that Purdue is reducing, reusing and recycling its way to decreasing the University's presence in landfills and damage to the environment.
Purdue's overall recycling rates have increased from 48 percent in 2008-09 to 65 percent in 2009-10. These rates include personal recyclables such as aluminum cans, plastic bottles and used paper, as well as institutional recyclables -- those items that can be recycled by Surplus and Salvage, Radiological and Environmental Management, Wade Utility Plant and Soilmaker, a recycling operation that leases University-owned land to turn waste into compost.
Since 2008, Purdue has reduced its contribution to landfill tonnage by 725 tons, saving the University $27,000 in landfill fees. Personal recycling has increased from 24 percent in 2006-07 to 40 percent in 2009-10.
To aid in personal recycling efforts, Purdue implemented dual stream desk-side recycling by providing recycling containers with small saddle baskets. The gradual conversion of this new program was completed in all academic buildings and University Residences administrative buildings on Sept. 1.
"Staff members can help by placing all white office paper in the saddle and placing newspaper, magazines and other items in the larger portion of the container," Evans says. "Those who generate more office paper than mixed recyclables should feel free to switch the saddle and larger portion on their desk-side container to fit their individual needs."
Custodial staff empty desk-side containers twice per week and use clear plastic bags to denote recyclables and black opaque bags to denote trash. Although trash and mixed recyclable bags are both placed in exterior waste receptacles, mixed recyclables are taken to a materials reclamations facility in Muncie, Ind., after processing.
"There have been a few cases where people assume that since a bag was going into a Dumpster or compactor truck, that it was not being recycled. The same truck used for trash pick up one day may be used to pick up mixed recyclables the next," Evans says. "We want to help eliminate any confusion."
Evans and Ashlock encourage Purdue faculty and staff to continue recycling and helping to reduce the University's waste in landfills.
"Employees can help by using refillable water and drink containers and just by thinking about recycling items before putting them in the trash," Evans says. "The simplest way to decide what can be recycled is to think about what cannot be recycled -- used facial tissue and paper towels, food, liquids and snack wrappers. Everything else can be recycled."
Ongoing recycling efforts include meeting with University Residences to incorporate recycling containers at residence halls and adding a grinder to the West Lafayette bio-digester. With the increase in recycling volume, Purdue is working also to increase collection efficiency.
"One of our goals in Physical Facilities is to be a national leader in promoting sustainability, and our award winning recycling program generates a lot of interest from peer institutions,” Evans says. Ashlock adds, "Recycling is something everyone can do and we should all be proud of our innovative program."
For more information about recycling at Purdue, visit www.purdue.edu/sustainability/pages/recycling_programs.html.