The Catholic University of America

August 22, 2014

University Introduces Improved Recycling Measures

In an effort to decrease landfill waste, the University’s Office of Facilities Operations has partnered with Waste Management, North America’s largest residential recycler, to improve recycling efforts on campus.

The program will focus first on waste collected in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, particularly in the dining facilities. New receptacles will be in place in September to encourage the community to sort compostable materials, recyclables, and landfill waste. New signage will be installed above the receptacles indicating what items belong in which category.

Compostable materials include any food waste and paper napkins. Materials that can be disposed of in recycling bins across campus include not only paper waste, but also aluminum, glass, and most plastics.

Recyclable items are collected through a single-stream (or comingled) system. Community members can deposit all recyclable materials into the same collection bin. Items made of different materials are sorted when they reach the off-campus recycling facility. (Click here for a list of items that are recyclable.)

Through the partnership with Waste Management and new signage and receptacles across campus, the facilities staff hopes to increase the awareness of sustainability at CUA.

“This effort is a part of what we have always been doing,” says Jerry Conrad, associate vice president for facilities operations. “Sustainability is practiced throughout the University and throughout facilities management. For example, we transitioned to greener cleaning products in custodial services, and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and materials in building maintenance and new construction. Grounds maintenance also has established sustainable practices incluing phasing out conventional toxin-intensive turf and pest control products.”

Through the recycling initiative, “We are hoping to make it very clear that in order be a sustainable university, every person has to do their part,” he says. “That is what Catholic University is about. We are a community who works together.”

Waste Management will provide the facilities office with a monthly report indicating how much waste is being diverted from the landfill through recycling and composting efforts. Last year, Waste Management managed over 15 million tons of recyclable material.

Additionally, the food service staff is investigating a more sustainable material for disposable plates and takeout containers in the dining halls. A new D.C. law prohibits the use of Styrofoam containers beginning in 2016. The University aims to find an affordable alternative ahead of that deadline.

A solar powered compactor was installed outside of the Pryzbyla Center for a trial period. By compacting trash, the bin saves energy used by facilities vehicles that gather trash on campus. When the bin is are full, it will send an email alerting a driver to empty it. The compactor also reduces the number of trash bags used.



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