The Recycling Program – which is overseen by the Department’s Stockroom – has existed since the early 1990’s. At that time, in response to requests from students, and in order to meet new statute requirements, Facilities Management created a new recycling program without increasing the existing trash removal budget and resources.
For that reason – and because any successful recycling program requires the participation of the entire community it serves – the recycling effort was designed to require a small measure of volunteerism from each member of the campus. Cleaning personnel relied on faculty, staff, and students, to bring their recyclable paper, cardboard, and mixed containers to a central location on each floor.
For practical reasons, the truck that had transported trash five days a week was cleaned at the end of each day and was used to transport paper on Tuesday’s and Cardboard on Thursday’s. The increase in recycling meant a decrease in trash – so trash was handled in three days each week, rather than five. At the outset the recycling program was able to achieve recycling percentages in the mid twenties, and received national recognition.
Over the years the recycling program has gained terrific support – not just from the campus in general, but from the Five College Recycling Coordinator and from the campus wide Environmental Stewardship program, established by the College’s Plan for 2010 to reduce the environmental footprint of campus operations. With such critical support and an ever growing awareness of the importance of safeguarding our environment, the recycling on our Campus has now grown to include: composting food waste; recycling batteries and light bulbs; electronics, salvaging steel, wood, masonry, and other building materials; and collecting and donating clothing and furnishings. Additionally, nearly all construction debris from major and minor renovations is recycled – including wire, masonry, lumber, plaster, pipes, etc. Today the program recycles an average of 47% each month – and has recently exceeded 50% for several months.
The success of the program should not be measured simply in percentages. Because the College approach has been multi-dimensional it has succeeded in reducing the amount of waste and recyclable materials by sustainable purchasing and other waste reduction measures, which slows down the rate at which recycling percentages increase. Perhaps the two most important measurements of the program’s success are: the budget for recycling and trash is the same size it was when it was simply a trash budget – the resources consumed have not expanded, even while the program has; and before our Campus recycled it generated 1,000 tons of trash for the local landfill annually – today that figure is about 500 tons annually. For a complete collection of recycling statistics and procedures be sure to visit the Environmental Stewardship Recycling and Waste Reduction.