The University of Rochester has calculated the amount of material reused and recycled on all of its campuses, and there is a reason to celebrate. From 2009 to 2010, the recycling/reuse percent has risen 3.3%, to a total recycling percentage of 32.2%. Recycling rate is calculated by comparing the weight of recycled and reused material to the weight of University’s total waste and recycling combined. In 2010, we recycled and reused 3,692 tons of material avoiding a cost of over $140,000, which would have been paid in tipping fees to send the material to a landfill.
The total recycling percent has steadily been growing since 2006 when it was only 12.7%, 17.5% in 2007, 21.9% in 2008, and climbed to 28.6% in 2009. When you consider how that number has almost tripled in five short years, you can see the long-term effect of these small increases in recycling.
The University’s recycled materials includes a whole host of items, including paper/cardboard, construction material, confidential documents, metal, plastic, glass, used electronics, hazardous waste, and several miscellaneous items.
While the miscellaneous items on the list do not make up a large percentage of the total recycling percentage, they still serve an important purpose. The cooking grease from campus dining locations is combined with methanol, to create biodiesel fuel, which is used to fuel the UR’s biodiesel bus. Each year during student move out, food and clothing are collected and then donated to local charities so that they reach people in need, instead of ending up in the trash. The inkjet recycling program receives rebates, which are then used to fund the planting of trees in the University’s arboretum. Furniture from the Medical Center is offered for reuse or sold. Even old sneakers at the University are recycled into athletic tracks and fields through Nike’s Reuse a Shoe program.
The miscellaneous materials recycled/reused account for many different items.
Construction project recycled materials and paper and cardboard, each account for almost one-third of the University’s recycling. Construction projects are one area of recycling that heavily impact the University’s total recycled percentage because of the weight of the materials being recycled. In fact, without construction projects the 2010 rate would have only been 26%. The Medical Center’s recent construction project of the Clinical and Translational Science Building (CTSB), which began in October 2008 and is expected to be completed by April 2011, has an overall recycling percentage of 60.3%, so far. The majority of these recycled materials include 371 tons of asphalt and almost 50 tons of concrete, which were successfully diverted away from landfills. When University Health Service (UHS) was built it also made a big impact on recycling rate by recycling 76% of its construction materials.
As the year continues, let’s strive to bring our recycling/reuse rate even higher. While the major construction projects make a huge contribution to the recycling/reuse rate, we can only accomplish our goals with the help of the entire University community. With your consistent effort to recycle or reuse whenever possible, perhaps someday we might even achieve the ultimate goal of zero waste.