Recycling improves on campus, but work remains to meet goal


So far, people are throwing away less and recycling a bit more on the Worcester campus. 

At the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2010, the campus posted an annual recycling rate of nearly 23 percent, as measured by tonnage of waste material leaving the campus. Four months later, the rate had jumped to 30 percent. 

“I think it’s a combination of some new programs and increased participation,” said Bill Tsaknopolous, director of auxiliary services, who oversees the recycling operation. “The trend is moving in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do.” 

To align with the goals of the state’s Leading by Example program and the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the Medical School is aiming to increase its recycling rate to 50 percent, so that half of what leaves the campus as waste is no longer destined for a landfill. 

Over the past several years, recycling rates have fluctuated, Tsaknopolous said. So if the school is to meet its long-term waste stream reduction goal, the community will have to increase its participation. 

“Over the coming year we’ll be working on placing additional bins and signage throughout the campus to further encourage recycling,” said Melissa Lucas, sustainability and energy manager. “We are encouraged by the increase in recycling, but the community has to stick with it and help us improve.” 

As for new programs, the biggest change since June is the school’s contracting with a new vendor, Northeast Material Handling from Chelmsford, to recycle large items. The company now removes unwanted furniture, fixtures and appliances, including refrigerators and freezers, and then recycles or reuses the material rather than trashing it. Increased recycling opportunities for batteries and printer toner cartridges have also helped boost the campus rate. 

“We still have a long way to go with our paper, can and plastics recycling,” Lucas noted. “The most important thing people can do is to think before they throw something away, and ask themselves if it can be recycled.” 

View a full list of paper, plastic and associated materials that can be recycled on campus here.

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