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UT revamps Rocket Recycling program

The University of Toledo is bolstering its sustainability efforts by revamping its Rocket Recycling program.

“We’re really trying to revitalize the recycling program by bringing excitement back to show that it’s important and a focus and priority of the University,” said Brooke Mason, interim sustainability specialist.

Rocket Recycling is using new containers to help sort materials.

Rocket Recycling is using new containers to help sort materials.

A grant awarded to UT in May 2012 by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency made the improvements possible by providing the University with funds to purchase 400 recycling stations, which amounted to about 2,000 new bins across Main and Health Science campuses.

To determine the most economical solution for handling recycling at UT, Mason conducted a feasibility study in collaboration with the College of Engineering prior to the allotment of the funds.

“The study showed that it made the most sense for us to collect the material and process it ourselves,” Mason said. “It’s way cheaper than paying for someone else to come in and do the program.”

Recycling stations consist of five separate bins: one for office paper, one for newspapers and magazines, one for metal cans, one for plastic, and one for landfill waste. They are the key to successful in-house recycling because they cut down on the time and costs associated with sorting recyclables, Mason said.

“You either have to decide to source separate it like we’re doing and rely on your community to help with that by taking a tiny bit of the burden one can, bottle or piece of paper at a time, or you just have to fork up the money to pay someone to take it all single stream,” Mason said. “We could have done something like the city of Toledo does where you have a curbside, everything goes in one bin, but that comes at a cost.”

Unlike the old containers, which were not user-friendly, the new stations follow best practices.

Bins are labeled on the sides; lids are color-coded, contain a picture of appropriate recyclables, and list the types of products allowed and not allowed; and restrictive slots in the lids encourage accurate disposal.

The stations are replacing most of the rolling carts.

The way recycling is stored also is undergoing change. Now it will be kept near or in the dumpster areas at most locations.

“It will allow the buildings to look nicer; we’re trying to pull it out,” Mason said. “If there ever was a smell, there won’t be now because the custodians will be moving it directly outside. Not only will people see the new clean, fancy bins, but they’ll also notice that the previous staging area is no longer being used.”

Implementation began June 23 and the system will be in full effect the second week of July.

“I see it as a community program; we can’t be successful without the UT community members recycling properly and giving us feedback on how we’re doing,” Mason said. “It’s about UT pride in the community — everyone doing his and her part and seeing that recycling is real, here to stay, and that it’s a big part of what UT is doing.”

For more information, questions or concerns or to request a presentation about the recycling program, contact Mason at 419.530.1042 or brooke.mason@utoledo.edu.

Additional information about Rocket Recycling can be found here.

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