Recycling Gets Simpler as University Gears Up for RecycleMania

Recycle Crew from UT Dallas

Blue is the hue for all single-stream recycling bins across campus, including the office recycling bins that custodial recycling team members (from left) Alex Canas, John Appernoth, Eric Burley, Antonio Velasquez and Rodger Dunavin are holding.

The University of Texas at Dallas is continuing to make recycling a priority on campus. A new collection system makes recycling simpler — just in time for a nationwide recycling competition among colleges and universities.  

The University recently implemented a single-stream collection system for recyclables. Items such as aluminum cans, plastic bottles and paper no longer have to be separated into different recycling containers. All recyclables may be placed into any blue recycling bins on campus.

It is still necessary to separate recyclables from trash, such as food waste, food wrappers and Styrofoam, and removing confidential materials that require shredding before placing items into the blue bins.  

“It is very important to take the time to make sure items are thrown into the right containers,” said Bron Clayton, building services supervisor for UT Dallas Facilities Management. “If too many trash items are mixed into a blue recycling bin, the entire load of recyclables must be landfilled.”

The change comes just before the start of RecycleMania, an eight-week competition and benchmarking tool for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction and increase recycling. Each school records the amount of materials recycled on its campus each week and reports its data to competition organizers. UT Dallas will participate in the competition, which runs from Sunday to March 28, with a goal to increase its current recycling rate of 28 percent.

Recycle Bin

UT Dallas Trash and Recycling by the Numbers   

1,658,358 pounds
the amount of trash
produced in 2014

656,524 pounds
the amount of materials
recycled in 2014

“Our hope is that, with the new system in place, it will be easier for students, faculty and staff to participate in RecycleMania, and continue recycling beyond the completion dates,” Clayton said.

The new single-stream system also will make the collection process more efficient for the University and the custodial recycling team. Rather than having to sort through each bin to separate bottles and papers, they can simply remove recycling bags from the bins and deliver them to the collection area.

“Managing the large amount of waste is not an inconsequential part of the University’s operations,” said Dr. Calvin D. Jamison, vice president for administration. “With the tremendous growth of our campus population, we must continue to look for ways to improve our processes and increase our sustainability efforts. Recycling is an important part of our environmental goals, and we have been working with groups such as the Sustainability Committee, Student Government and others to advance these initiatives on campus.”

As part of the new single-stream program, several new recycling bins and signs have been placed throughout campus — outdoors, in buildings and in offices. Faculty and staff needing office recycling bins can request them by emailing [email protected].

Katie Truesdale, an emerging media and communication junior who serves as a Sustainability Committee member and Student Government’s committee chair for student affairs, said she is excited about the new recycling process on campus.

“This change is something we have been anticipating over the last year,” she said. “Students are looking for ways to recycle, and this transition to single stream is an incredible move for our University.”

Truesdale also encouraged fellow students to embrace recycling and pitch in during RecycleMania.

“If we continue to trash the Earth, we are the ones who are going to be affected in the coming years. We will face a much larger problem later in our lives if we don’t make changes now,” she said.

UT Dallas recycled 188,485 pounds of paper in 2014, in addition to collecting cardboard, aluminum, plastic, ink cartridges and other recyclable materials to minimize the amount of waste it sends to the landfill. Food scraps from the dining hall and landscaping debris are also repurposed to support the University’s internal composting program.

For more information about UT Dallas recycling and RecycleMania, visit the University’s sustainability website.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].