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Rutgers Introduces Single Stream Recycling in Bid to Retain RecycleMania's Gorilla Prize
Several new programs designed to increase participation, save university money
ATTENTION NEWS, EDUCATION, ENVIRONMENTAL EDITORS, for more information, contact Dianne Gravatt at 848-445-3707 or email@example.com.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Though it’s never easy to become a champion, it’s even harder to stay on top. That’s why Rutgers is implementing several creative programs to increase community participation – and also save money – as it begins its quest for a fifth consecutive Gorilla Prize for overall recycling in RecycleMania 2011.
The friendly, international competition for environmentally conscious colleges and universities kicks off Feb.6 and runs through April 2, following a two-week test period. Participants will report their recycling and trash weights weekly as they compete in the Grand Champion, Gorilla Prize, Waste Minimization, Per Capita and Targeted Materials categories. Rutgers consistently is a Top 10 finisher in most categories and already diverts more than two-thirds of its trash from landfills.
The most important change is the introduction of single stream recycling, says Dianne Gravatt, director of Environmental Services and Grounds, whose team at University Facilities has been instrumental in Rutgers’ recycling and waste management successes. Rutgers and its partner, Waste Management of New Jersey Inc., have placed nine pair of smart, solar-powered trash compactors and, in conjunction with PepsiCo., recycling kiosks around the New Brunswick and Piscataway campuses, and a 10th on the Camden Campus.
The compactors employ electric eye sensors, triggering a mechanical signal for compaction to produce cubes of trash – Rutgers’ will weigh 35 to 40 pounds – while simultaneously sending a status update to a computer at Facilities’ offices on each campus, alerting staffers that the compactor is filled. “We’ll save on man-hour costs because we’ll send grounds workers to empty the compactors only when it’s required, which will free them for other duties,” Gravatt said. “Due to compaction, we can handle five times as much trash as previously.”
Additionally, employees will begin to see new desk side recycling containers that accept and co-mingle plastic bottles, steel and aluminum cans, and paper and cardboard products, including newspapers, office paper, pizza boxes, mail, magazines and used paper bags, among others. Their trash-collecting “Side Caddies” will collect such items as food, dirty paper towels, napkins and tissues, and lab glass.
Custodial and grounds personnel will collect and properly place all recyclables into the appropriate larger single stream containers for Waste Management’s transfer to a single stream waste-handling facility. Following largely mechanical sorting, using such technologies as magnets, blowers and optical scanners, the materials will be disbursed to facilities that convert the items into new products containing recycled material.
“We’ve needed three separate pick-ups: one for cardboard and paper, a second for bottles and cans, and a third for trash,” Gravatt said. “Now everything, except trash, can go in a single truck, so we’ve eliminated one truck from the routes with its associated fuel costs, decreasing pollution at the same time.”
Gravatt said that last football season, the university implemented a pilot single stream recycling program at Rutgers Stadium and its user friendliness increased the recycling rate by 117 percent. Its popularity also enabled Rutgers to win the Big East Division of the Game Day (Recycling) Challenge.
A second, new highly visible recycling program involves the introduction of PepsiCo’s Dream Machines at the Rutgers and Livingston Student centers and the Busch Campus Center. Participants register at these “reverse” vending intelligent kiosks, where they deposit empty bottles and cans and receive points for rewards redemption through the Greenopolis.com web site. Eventually, a local couponing capability will allow users to redeem their points at food courts and other local merchants. The kiosks are programmed to telephone Facilities when they are filled to capacity and need servicing. Gravatt said that plans are underway to produce a 40-second video about Rutgers’ recycling activities and programs for viewing via the Dream Machines’ touch screens.
PepsiCo leads the beverage industry by incorporating 10 percent recycled PET plastic in its primary U.S. soft drink containers and is working toward a goal to increase the country’s beverage container recycling rate from 34 percent to 50 percent by 2018. To encourage more on-the-go recycling, the more people recycle in a Dream Machine, the more funding the company will provide funding to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, a national program offering free entrepreneurial training and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities.
For more information on Rutgers' recycling programs, click here.
Media Contact: Steve Manas
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