A new approach to recycling at UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care began this summer with the launch of the “all-in” system, with paper, cardboard, cans, bottles and other recyclable materials all being placed in the same bins.
UMMS and UMass Memorial also decided to partner for the first time on recycling, using one set of rules and one vendor for recycling and waste hauling services across both institutions. The goal is to double the volume of material recycled in a year.
“Increasing recycling is one of the most important things we can do to achieve our sustainability goals,” said Melissa Lucas, sustainability and energy manager at UMMS. “Working together with our partners in the clinical system really takes this effort to a new level.”
Planning for the new program took nearly a year. This spring, after a rigorous procurement process, UMMS and UMass Memorial selected E.L. Harvey & Sons Inc. of Westborough as the new materials handler for the institutions’ 65 locations across Central Massachusetts. The former recycling system required separating materials into different bins, which was less than ideal. Too often, because of a lack of proper receptacles nearby, or confusion about what materials should be recycled, people simply threw all refuse into the trash can. The new all-in-one-bin approach is considered a best practice.
“In our experience, by making it easier for people to recycle, we can keep those paper and plastic items that might otherwise be thrown out from ending up in landfills,” said Nicole Moreau, resource manager at E.L. Harvey & Sons. “We’ll work closely with UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care to find ways to make recycling easy and efficient across their many locations. Ultimately, every pound we’re able to divert out of the waste stream and recycle is going to have a profound impact on the environment and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.”
The all-in recycling program began first in the newly opened Albert Sherman Center. So far, it has been launched at the University Campus in the main hospital and medical school buildings, the Benedict Building, the Lazare Research Building and the power plant. In the fall, the new recycling program will spread across the rest of the school’s buildings in and beyond Worcester and throughout UMass Memorial hospitals, clinics, office buildings and primary care locations. People who work or study at the institutions should be on the look-out for new signage and other communications in the coming months to help them adjust to the new recycling program. (A full list of materials the can be recycled in the single bin is available here: http://www.umassmed.edu/growinggreen/recycling.aspx)
Harvey will collect all recyclables—whether paper, plastic, glass or aluminum—in a single container and processes them at their 43-acre recycling center in Westborough. Additionally, Harvey staff will provide best practices training and educational programs to departments and employees to help increase recycling.