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October 29, 2015

Pitt converts to single-stream recycling

In an effort to improve waste diversion by 35 percent over the next five years, the University is instituting single-stream recycling on the Pittsburgh campus.

That means there’s no need to separate non-hazardous recyclable glass, aluminum, paper and cardboard — they now can be placed in any recycling container. Batteries, electronics and other specialized recyclable waste continue to be handled separately.

“Our hope is that the simplified process will make the decision to recycle automatic among the Pitt community,” said Laura Zullo, Facilities Management’s senior manager of energy initiatives.

Under a new five-year agreement with its longtime contractor Republic Services, the University’s comingled recyclables will be hauled to a Neville Island sorting facility, said Zullo.

The University has been considering single-stream recycling for some time, and took advantage of the timing of a new contract to implement the changes, she said. The goal of a 7 percent improvement in waste diversion in each of the next five years is expected to cut hauling costs and landfill fees.

“Convenience is another benefit,” Zullo said. “We are striving to make the program easier to use and more accessible. Faculty, staff and students will no longer need to look for separate containers for their recyclable materials.”

To make the plan more visible, new labeling and more standardization of campus trash and recycling containers are in the works, she said. Posters have been developed to remind campus users that recyclables now can go all in one bin. Waste containers now will be labeled LANDFILL, “to better educate users of the ultimate destination for their waste,” Zullo said.

And Facilities Management is checking to see that all employees have easy access to waste and recycling containers near their workstations.

A prototype single-stream recycling container (made from recycled milk jugs) will be introduced in common areas across campus later this fall. In other areas, existing tall slim recycling containers will remain in use — black or brown for landfill waste, blue for recyclables.

Outdoor recycling also is being ramped up: “Big Belly” solar compactors and recycling units are in place outside Hillman Library and Litchfield Towers. Facilities Management also has plans to implement a standard exterior recycling container, Zullo said.

Zullo reiterated that there’s no need to wait for the new labels: effective immediately, paper, metal, plastic and glass can be put into any standard recycling container on campus.

—Kimberly K. Barlow  

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 5

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