Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

August 31, 1995

Recycling program expanded

Stop throwing yesterday's newspapers into the trash. And save those magazines, old telephone books, used-up campus mail envelopes and outdated textbooks, too.

Most paper items now can be recycled thanks to a program started this summer by the Office of Facilities Management.

Made possible by an upsurge in the market for paper and the hiring by Pitt of a new paper hauler, All Safe Document Destruction Services Inc. of Turtle Creek, the program is expected to save the University $50,000 to $100,000 this year. According to Dale Jones, facilities manager in charge of recycling, the savings will come through a combination of rebates and cuts in hauling costs.

"It is very silly, even asinine, to waste such a valuable product as paper when all of the large mills have retro-fitted their operations to accommodate a portion of recycled paper into their new paper products," said Jones.

For the recycling program to fulfill its potential, however, the entire University community will have to cooperate, according to Greg Garvin, an electrical engineering student who helped develop the new recycling program. Taking part in the program is easy. Instead of throwing waste paper into the trash, faculty, staff and students should now place it in the recyclable containers located in their offices and in the hallways of all University buildings.

According to Garvin, the only paper items that should be thrown into the trash are those that have come in contact with food, bathroom and facial tissue, carbon paper and brown wrapping paper. (See accompanying list of recyclable and nonrecyclable paper items.) "One of the advantages of the whole program is that it is easy," said Regis Koslof, assistant facilities manager in the recycling program. "It requires no separation. Whatever paper is generated in an office can be put in the recyclable can." Acknowledging that there had been problems in the past with people picking through office paper and with recyclable paper being dumped into trash bins, Jones said that under the new program all paper placed in a recycling container will be recycled.

All Safe is a reputable company, according to Jones, with its own containers for paper. He said containers can be locked to prevent people from tampering with the contents and that all of the company's employees are bonded.

Precautions taken by All Safe means that confidential papers now can be recycled. Garvin said the company shreds everything it collects, and then packages the shredded material and ships it directly to its own mills, so intact documents never leave its possession.

According to Jones, the Office of Student Financial Aid already has begun to utilize the recycling program and, as a result, has freed for other work a staff member whose job it had been to shred documents.

The idea for expanding the University's recycling program arose in January when a study by Facilities Management found that only about 12 percent of Pitt's solid waste was being recycled. Under guidelines set by the state, municipalities and large institutions are supposed to recycle 25 percent of their solid waste.

"We found it was silly for the University to be spending money to have products hauled off campus that we could be getting some type of rebate on," said Jones.

Because Pitt did not have a contract with an aluminum recycler, Facilities Management decided to launch its own aluminum recycling program. Since January, that program has saved the University $210 per month in hauling fees for aluminum cans and brought in an average rebate of $167 per month. Inspired by the success of the can program, Jones and his colleagues began studying the University's paper recycling program. What they found was that 806 tons of paper had been hauled off campus in 1994 at a cost to the University of $37,000, while recyclers were paying $80 per ton for paper.

When All Safe was contacted by Facilities Management about disposal of the University's confidential papers, the company proposed instead an agreement that would allow it to handle all of Pitt's paper waste. Under that agreement, signed in June, All Safe not only is paying Pitt a rebate for its paper waste, but is hauling it off campus free of charge. The agreement is expected to earn the University $40,000 to $50,000 in rebates this year and save it $18,000 in hauling fees, Jones said.

Pitt produced 4,300 tons of trash last year, according to Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management Tom Hussey, for which it paid about $270,000 in hauling costs, figures that will be cut substantially over the next year because of the new paper recycling program.

"Our goal is to continue to improve the recycling program by investigating other markets," Garvin added. "We're expecting, with the popularity of juice and tea products in glass containers, that we are going to have to investigate glass and plastic recycling much more seriously in the near future."

–Mike Sajna

Filed under: Feature,Volume 28 Issue 1

Leave a Reply