Take part in America Recycles Day today; learn how, what to recycle at CWRU

Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day, a day to come together to celebrate and promote recycling. Get involved, and be armed with information on Case Western Reserve University’s recycling program.

Currently the university recycles about 25-30 tons of material per month. However, we still send about 250 tons of trash to the landfill each month. The Weatherhead Green Team recently conducted a waste audit in the Peter B. Lewis building and concluded that at least one-third of the material placed in trash cans could have been recycled but was simply put in the wrong bin. The university community can do more to make recycling an automatic habit, said Greg Paradis, assistant director for housing custodial. “The power to change is in our hands, to be good stewards of the environment, to provide community leadership and to create healthier habitats for a better today and tomorrow,” he said.

Joe Cooper, director of custodial services, pointed out that the recycling program not only keeps material from “being placed into landfills, thus saving valuable university dollars in avoided tipping fees, but that recycling also reduces our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Gene Matthews, director of facilities added: “While we do recover a small amount of money from our recycling vendor and every ton we recycle reduces our operating costs, more importantly, trash generates methane as it decomposes in landfills. Methane, as a greenhouse gas, is more powerful than CO2. Every ton of waste that gets diverted from the landfill to recycling reduces the amount of methane generated.”

What you need to know:

Case Western Reserve University recycles:

  • Paper Bins: All paper can be co-mingled. There are still bins on campus that are labeled office paper or colored paper, but these labels are simply out of date. All paper can be mixed into any paper recycling container.
  • Bottle Bins: Co-mingled food containers including plastics numbered 1-7, aluminum or metal cans, glass all go in the same container. Please rinse out food and leave the lids off.
  • Cardboard: Cardboard from office and the academic campus should be broken down and placed behind or between recycling bins.
  • Lab plastic and glass containers: Lab containers that are non-hazardous should be thoroughly washed out, the labels should be removed, and then the material can be placed in the co-mingled bottle recycling containers.
  • E-Waste: Through an enhanced partnership with RET3, fill out the online e-waste recycling request form, and a staff member from RET3 will contact the designee and schedule a door-side material pickup.
  • Composting: Bon Appetit collects food waste during the food preparation process, and this material is composted by the University Farm. The grounds department captures landscaping material and composts it to be used back on university property.
  • Toner & Batteries: We are refining our system to recycle toner and print cartridges and batteries and evaluating new vendors.
  • Office recycling: Please note, all faculty and staff should have small blue, under the desk recycling bins. These are for your convenience, but staff and faculty must empty these bins themselves into the centralized, larger hallway recycling bins. The custodial workers do not empty the under the desk recycling bins when your trash is collected.

Where does our recycling go?

  • Custodial staff collects all blue and clear plastic bag recyclables and brings them back to the Cedar Avenue Service Center. A company called Recycle Midwest takes all paper, co-mingled food containers and cardboard material. Their Cleveland facility staff further sorts and refines the materials and sells them to companies that turn the material into new product.
  • E-Waste is being collected by an outside vendor RET3, a local non-profit. Bob Sopko, VP of Information Technology Services, noted “recycling e-waste puts used computers from CWRU back to productive use in Cleveland Public Schools and other local non-profits.”

Current initiatives

  • The Student Sustainability Council and SAC Climate and Work Environment Committee are helping the Office of Sustainability to audit the recycling bins on campus for placement and signage.
  • The Student Sustainability Council, facilities department and office of sustainability are gearing up for the annual, national Recyclemania competition, which begins the second week in February. The Recyclemania committee is meeting Nov. 16, 3-4 p.m., in the Spartan Room of Thwing Center.
  • A new recycling manager is also being hired to expand the university’s programs.

Have a recycling idea or comment? Email Stephanie Corbett, director of sustainability, at Stephanie.corbett@case.edu.