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Waste Disposal Area

 

 

November 2006
UNC's campus is recycling more
Guest column
B.J. Tipton

 

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 impact.

Here are more of the numbers associated with recycling at Carolina:

* 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.

Carolina is committed to recycling and reducing the waste burden in our community. Visit Carolina's waste reduction Web site at www.fac.unc.edu/WasteReduction and learn more about Orange County's recycling program at www.co.orange.nc.us/recycling/community.asp.

B.J. Tipton is Carolina's Solid Waste Program manager and serves as a liaison to Orange County's Solid Waste Advisory Board.





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