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Recycling Archives Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘Recycling’

Waste Diversion Rate Peaks at 55%

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Over the past fifteen years the effort to reduce solid waste on campus has expanded from its humble origins as a simple recycling program to the holistic campus-wide waste reduction initiative it is today.

Before 1998 the campus’s overall waste diversion rate was negligible; by 2010 it had jumped to 45% and in 2012 it had grown to 55%. Achievements in the waste reduction campaign have been made on diverse frontiers: waste diversion includes diversion of materials from the landfill for basic recycling, reuse, upcycling, downcycling, and composting.

One of the major contributors to the success of the waste reduction campaign is Megan Anderson, Wake Forest’s Manager of Waste Reduction and Surplus Property. Although she emphasizes the collective nature of the achievements, she has worked tirelessly on several initiatives over the past few years that have reduced the environmental footprint the campus leaves behind.

Reflecting on the diversity of waste reduction strategies made by the university, Anderson said that, “Focusing on process change, increasing efficiency, and more thoughtful purchasing are just a few examples of how we have been able to set the bar higher to reduce our waste.”

Accomplishments in the waste campaign have been made on assorted fronts. So far this year, the surplus property program allowed the university to repurpose 319 pieces of furniture, resulting in 8.44 tons of material being diverted from the landfill. In the 2011-2012 school year, the same program allowed over 1000 individual items to be repurposed and reused within WFU departments. Also, for more than two years now, Aramark has been composting pre-consumer food waste in the Fresh Food Co., Starbucks, and catering and continues to investigate options to expand the program to post-consumer food scraps.

“As the Wake Forest University community continues to grow: with more programs, more buildings, and more students living on campus,” Anderson said, “we need to continue this forward momentum.” Collective effort, she stresses, is also the way forward: “All of us have to be cognizant of how we can work together to reduce our waste.”

Read some of our stories about successful waste reduction efforts over the past few years:

Compost in action

Sustainable features of the North Campus construction project

Two departments receive awards

Surplus property program

By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern

FAQ – A Sustainable Start

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Q. The new school year is starting and I want to give sustainability a try – do you have any materials to get me started?

A. You are in luck! From recycling to dining, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn how you can receive your personal recycling bin, Green Guide, reusable to-go container, reusable water bottle and Zipcar membership.

Personal Recycling Bin

Who: Returning students

Where: The Magnolia Patio

When: Thursday, September 8 and Thursday, September 22, from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

What: Test your recycling IQ at one of our Think Green Thursday events and walk away with a green recycling tote of your very own. The bins stack, so bring your roommate and you can create a comprehensive recycling collection system in your residence hall room. Supplies are limited and bins are awarded on a first-come, first served basis.

Green Guide: A Deacon’s Guide to Sustainable Living

Who: Everyone

Where: The Magnolia Patio

When: Thursdays, from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

What: Have a question about alternative transportation at Wake? Want to sample some locally sourced cuisine at a downtown restaurant, but don’t know where to go? Interested in getting involved with sustainability at Wake Forest? The 25-page second edition of the WFU Green Guide answers all your sustainability questions. Though the first edition was written for students, by students, the second edition also includes resources requested by faculty and staff.

Reusable To-Go Container

Who: Anyone who eats at the Fresh Food Company

Where: In front of the Reynolda Fresh Food Company (aka The Pit)

When: August 26 – September 7, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

What: If you eat at the Pit, you are eligible to receive one free green reusable to-go container. Don’t throw away or lose this container. When you are finished with your meal, return the bin to the North Campus store or the Fresh Food Co. Green Scene Express, so that it can be washed and reused. In exchange, you will receive a clean container or a plastic key-tag. After this 2 week free distribution period, any replacement containers will cost you $5, so be sure to pick up your container or tag between August 26 and September 7.

In addition, Faculty and staff may purchase blocks of meals from the Fresh Food Co. accounting office at a discount. They will receive one free to-go container with purchase even after the 2 week free period.

Learn more about changes to the to-go program and other exciting dining initiatives here. (Hint – the to-go process has been improved and streamlined.)

“Choose to Reuse” Reusable Water Bottles

Who: Everyone

Where: The Magnolia Patio

When: Thursday, September 15, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

What: Earn a colorful re-usable water bottle during our “Choose to Reuse” Think Green Thursday event. Learn about the positive impact you can make by choosing a reusable bottle over single-serve bottled water and take the water taste test. Can you tell the difference between tap and bottled water?

Zipcar Membership

Who: Any individual over the age of 18 with a valid driver’s license or any university office/department

Where: Zipcar.com/wfu

When: Anytime

What: No car? No problem. For just $35/year, you become part of a car sharing program that supplies a car, gas, insurance and roadside assistant for a low hourly rate. Take the car to your meeting off-campus, to Target for supplies, or on a weekend trip. The best part? University students, faculty and staff receive $35 in driving credit to be used in the first month of membership – it’s like getting the membership for free. Visit the WFU Zipcar web site to register or stop by our office (Reynolda Hall 101) if you have any questions.

By Caitlin Brooks, Wake Forest Fellow

A Sorted Affair

Monday, March 14th, 2011

PSA Video for the Wake Forest Office of Sustainability advocating the proper sorting of recyclables from waste. Produced by students of the Wake Forest Documentary Film Program.

Displaced recycling bins find Homes for the Holidays

Saturday, February 5th, 2011
Photo by De'Noia Wood, Photography Intern

By De'Noia Woods, Photography Intern

Mismatched recycling bins from across campus found new homes just in time for the holidays. The displaced bins — a result of the transition to a new recycling bin standard on campus — were donated to schools across the county, as well as to local churches and homeless shelters.

After a successful pilot program in Greene Hall last spring, university staff members have embarked on a process of switching the bins over to the new standard in several buildings, including ZSR Library and Benson University Center.

The various mismatched bins placed around campus throughout the university’s 15 year recycling program are being phased out in favor of consistency and functionality. The new recycling standard is color-coded and designed for ease of use. Green bins with round holes in the top indicate cans and bottles, grey-beige bins with slits at the top are for mixed paper and black bins with wide openings are designed for landfill waste.

“The old black pushcarts looked too much like trash carts. The new design makes it clear to the user which waste streams go into which bins,” said Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, director of sustainability.

The transition to the new bins follows for the roll-out of the OS1 cleaning program. As custodial teams are trained in the new system and cleaning closets are renovated into supply pantries, the buildings also receive the new recycling bins.

This standardization has already resulted in the displacement of well over 100 recycling containers according to Megan Anderson, the university’s new Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager. All of the old black pushcarts, which made up a majority of the displaced bins, have been or are being retrofitted to serve a new purpose – can and bottle recycling collection at athletic events. Rather than disposing of the remainder of the stationary bins, the Office of Sustainability issued a call for new homes in December and received an overwhelmingly positive response.

.“Our mission is to reuse and recycle and we need to perpetuate that mentality. It would be a tragedy to waste the recycling containers,” Anderson said. “These bins are helping community groups get their feet wet with recycling when they might not have had the resources otherwise.”

“We still have requests we have not been able to fill, but we expect more bins from future building transitions,” she said. Organizations interested in starting their own recycling programs should contact Anderson at or 336.758.4255 to be placed on the waiting list for bins.

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

New Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager hired

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Megan Anderson, nicknamed “Captain Planet” by her friends, unabashedly loves trash. In almost any other profession, this trait would be considered a little bizarre, but as the university’s new Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager, Anderson’s affinity for garbage is a great asset.

“The average American disposes of 4.5 pounds of trash a day. Trashing things has always been convenient, people just don’t have to think about it,” Anderson said. “There needs to be more education about trash. When you get rid of it, it doesn’t just disappear.”

The educational component of her work is a passion of Anderson’s. Before taking up the post at the university at the beginning of the semester, she spent several years traveling throughout Asia and Africa. In all the places she traveled, she made it a point to give back to the community through education appropriate to each locale – from teaching English in Japan to helping to educate locals about microfinance in Burma.

Anderson hopes to work through her new post to continue to educate those around her. She will work closely with the interns in the Office of Sustainability to promote and ensure the success of RecycleMania, an eight-week nationwide waste reduction and recycling competition that launches in February. Last year Wake Forest led the ACC in waste reduction – an honor Anderson will work to keep intact this year.

Anderson will also work to increase transparency of waste diversion and reduction efforts on campus. Anderson and the rest of the Facilities & Campus Services Staff work to reduce all sorts of waste by recycling basics like glass, plastic, paper and aluminum to recycling and repurposing light bulbs, batteries, furniture and yard waste.

“We are already doing a really great job, we want the university community to feel proud of what we’ve all accomplished,” Anderson said.

By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

Students divert 4.4 tons of waste

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, RecycleFrom unwanted textbooks to used furniture to notebook paper, university students together diverted more than 8,725 pounds of waste from dumpsters and landfills during 2010 move out, the most waste intensive part of the academic year.

For the 3rd semester in a row, the university partnered with Better World Books to give students a way to dispose of unwanted textbooks that the bookstore cannot buy back. Huge cardboard boxes sat waiting near the book store registers. By the end of move out, they had collected 2500 pounds of books, a 40 percent increase over last year’s poundage.

Better World Books was founded in 2002 to collect and resell textbooks to fund literacy initiative at home and abroad. To date, the company has donated 2.3 million books to partner programs around the world. In doing so, they have diverted more than 13,000 books from landfills.

Residence Life and Housing played a major role in reducing waste and promoting reuse again this year. The university’s move out program, formerly “Stop, Drop and Go” was renamed “Deacs Donate” to huge success. Through this program, students donated more than 5,225 pounds of clothing, small appliances, and household goods to the Salvation Army. This amount alone was a huge increase over last year’s donation. In addition to the boxed house wares, students also donated 138 area rugs, 47 shelving units, 44 full length mirrors, 12 couches, a 16 foot ladder and an exercise bike.

In a new initiative called “Recycle Your Notes,” the Office of Sustainability interns collected 1000 pounds of notepaper from the semester in only a couple hours. This collection prevented the paper from being thrown in trash bins and dumpsters. Half-filled notebooks, with the original owner’s notes recycled, can now be reused.

Caitlin Brooks, Outreach and Communications Intern

FAQ: Recycling Myth

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Q. Why should I bother to recycle at Wake? Doesn’t the university just throw away all the recyclable waste?

A. A significant percentage of university waste is diverted to be recycled including several dozen tons of cardboard each year. It is true that around 40 percent of recycling bins are contaminated by non-recyclables, like food waste, causing the contents of those bins to go to the landfill. The contents of the remaining 60 percent are diverted to a recycling center. Each marked recycling bin is lined with a clear bag so that Facilities staff members can easily determine if the contents are contaminated. All bins designated for trash contain opaque black trash bags.

For a quick list of recyclable materials, download our “What to Recycle” table, and remember – sorting matters!

FAQ: Recycling Do’s and Don’ts

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Q. I know that aluminum cans and plastic bottles are banned from landfills in North Carolina. What else should I recycle on campus?

A. You can find guidelines detailing what can and can’t be recycled on campus on our Waste Reduction and Recycling page.  For a printable visual reference, click here.

America Recycles Day

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

11/15: America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products. Check out events in the surrounding area at the America Recycles Day event calendar for North Carolina, and of course remember to recycle everyday!