2006 UNC's campus is recycling
more Guest column
For most of us in Orange County, recycling has become part
of our routine. We expect it and think nothing of it. At work,
we put our cans, bottles and papers in a bin. At home, we
take recycling to the curb once a week, or we make the trip
out to one of the area's recycling centers.
It's a simple habit, but it's a significant, civic-minded
action. Choosing to collect recyclable materials so they can
be used as raw materials in new products and not take up valuable
landfill space is an important part of our community's approach
to stretching natural resources and minimizing our impact
on the environment.
Both UNC-Chapel Hill and Orange County are leaders in waste
management practices and outreach. The university has been
recognized by the Carolina Recycling Association for its recycled
paper purchasing program and was the outstanding university
program of the year in 2003. Orange County is the first of
North Carolina's 100 counties to reach the state's 41 percent
waste reduction goal. The county's long-term plan is to reach
61 percent, and it is at 46 percent.
A shared interest and cooperation among the people of Chapel
Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, Orange County and Carolina contributes
to the community's successful waste management. And it will
require all of us continuing to work together to meet more
ambitious goals in the future.
It's sometimes hard for most of us to tell where the university
ends and the local community begins with regard to recycling
and solid waste management -- and that's a good thing. While
the university is responsible for managing its own waste stream,
we are active in a long-range waste planning advisory board
for the county. We hope to continue our cooperation to provide
community-wide recycling and waste management programs that
are consistent, efficient and user-friendly.
Carolina recycled more than 3,600 tons of would-be waste
last fiscal year -- almost 40 percent of all the waste produced
by the more than 38,000 people who live, study and work on
campus. The campus population increased last year, but our
total waste decreased.
The university makes up about 32 percent of the county's
total population, and it produces 10 percent of the waste
sent to the landfill. (These numbers do not include recycling
of more than 24,000 tons of coal ash from the cogeneration
plant and almost 5,000 additional tons of waste recycled by
construction projects on campus in the last year.)
We are proud of Carolina's recycling and waste management
efforts and pleased to help decrease the solid waste burden
in our community. The university provides and promotes integrated
waste reduction practices. Our services include recycling,
composting and trash disposal. We are committed to a comprehensive
construction and demolition recycling program to complement
our capital construction program. We view waste as both a
resource and a liability, and we work to give the campus community
the knowledge and resources needed to avoid waste where possible
and manage necessary waste to create the least environmental
Here are more of the numbers associated with recycling at
* 468.4 tons of food waste collected and composted from
campus dining facilities;
* 8.37 tons of material recycled from Kenan Stadium during
the 2005 football season;
* 2,362 indoor recycling bins;
* 115 outdoor recycling sites;
* 181 trash dumpsters and compactors; and
* 154 cardboard dumpsters and compactors.
An important aspect of our work is instilling an expectation
for and understanding of recycling in Carolina students as
they prepare for their next phase in life. Many of our students
remain in the area after graduation and reinforce this community's
commitment to recycling.
A key component to recycling education on campus continues
to be the Green Games. Campus residential communities compete
to reduce waste and the use of energy and water. Green Games
has evolved to an outreach program with a tremendous increase
in interest, including 104 student-hosted programs, up from
23 programs last year. Students are given the tools to educate
their peers, and they report back on their accomplishments.
We are developing a similar program for faculty, staff and
campus departments. Many departments are already making strong
recycling efforts. The expanded program will support them,
determine needs and reward the commitment.
We implemented new recycling programs on campus this year
for used inkjet printer cartridges and unwanted cell phones.
We are continuing seasonal programs that include setting up
donation stations during student move-out periods, staffing
the cardboard recycling sites during move-in periods, participating
in recycling efforts at special events including Fall Fest,
Carolina athletics and other outdoor events.