CSU awarded Outstanding Government Recycling/Diversion award
May 16, 2008
The Colorado Association For Recycling, or CAFR, has awarded Colorado State University the Outstanding Government Recycling/Waste Diversion Program Award. The award will be presented to Sheela Backen, manager of the CSU Integrated Solid Waste Program, during the CAFR annual summit in Aspen, Colo., on Tuesday, May 20.
History of recycling on campus
Before 1990, Colorado State University landfilled nearly all of its trash. A small student club, "Campus Recycle," collected recyclable material, but diverted less than 50 cubic yards of material each year. At less than two full trash trucks, it was not an appreciable amount compared to the over 26,000 cubic yards of waste produced annually by the University at that time.
In 1990, Facilities Management began a pilot recycling project with a $26,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Energy Conservation. Recycle Colorado State, or RCS, was established with this grant. Initial success was slow as no changes were made to the processes of trash collection, from the custodial or trash side. Custodians were expected to collect recyclable materials from separate recycling containers, in addition to their current duties, and no provisions were made to reduce trash service in response to less material in the dumpsters.
Waste collection and disposal processes overhauled in 1995
In an effort to address these concerns, the waste collection and disposal processes were changed in FY95. The previous program of 8-yard dumpster collection with over 234 dumpsters was reduced to approximately 100 dumpsters placed across Main Campus, South Campus, West Campus, Foothills Campus and outlying areas. A curbside collection system at most academic buildings on Main Campus has replaced dumpsters. Custodial staff puts bags of trash on the curb for timed pick-up. These efforts have lead to a combined reduction of trash and efficiency of its removal.
Streamlining the trash process allowed for growing efficiency of the campus recycling operations. Recycling is collected using a 24-yard side load packer truck. Collection has changed from multi-stream to single-stream paper and container collection (cardboard collection is still separate). Since recycling was introduced, the trash volume sent to the landfill has been decreased by approximately 1,545 cubic yards over the past 5 years and during that time recycling has increased by approximately 5.3%.
Changing perceptions was critical
Changing perceptions was a critical component to establishing a successful Integrated Solid Waste, or ISW, program. Custodial staff initially resisted when recycling bins were placed in classrooms from concern that a recycling program would add to their busy schedule. ISW staff anticipated that recycling bin placement would actually encourage students to clean up their own newspapers and plastic bottles. After the first month, custodians were asking for more bins because the first set were filling up too quickly.
The primary obstacle for ISW is obtaining funding for new recycle equipment. Being a State agency means it is difficult to replace equipment when you have simply outgrown the old equipment. To justify the cost of new equipment, we have to continually show monetary savings from diverting material from the landfill and also the demonstrate labor savings, before purchasing all new equipment. In FY07, the ISW program saw a cost avoidance of approximately $77,866 by diverting 12,807 cubic yards of material from the landfill.
Existing recycling program diverts over 55 percent of CSU solid waste
At present, it's difficult to find a building on-campus without a recycling bin - environmental responsibility and efficient operation are important considerations for ISW. Currently, CSU landfills about 44.9% of solid waste, with the existing recycling program diverting the other 55.1%. Those figures do not include the (literal) tons of items collected through the Leave-It Behind and Surplus Property programs that are recycled, donated to local charities, or sold for reuse to the local community.
Colorado State Recycling History and Milestones
* 1970s - A grassroots recycling program was initiated.
* 1990 - Facilities Management began a pilot-recycling program - Recycle Colorado State - with a grant.
* 1999-2000 - Integrated Solid Waste (ISW) introduced recycling bins into the residence halls and piloted a vermin-composting project for food waste.
* 2001, Fall - National Wildlife Federation recognized Colorado State in the Campus Ecology Yearbook as a leading school in energy efficiency and recycling.
* 2001-2002 - The Great Sofa Round-Up and Leave-It Behind programs were initiated.
* 2005 - Colorado State received the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce Environmental Leader award, recognizing environmental leadership in the areas of energy, water, transportation, recycling, and materials.
* 2005 - ISW introduced recycling bins inside every classroom.
* 2005 - ISW introduced paperboard recycling on campus.
* 2005 - Colorado State placed 7th in the national RecycleMania competition.
* 2006 - Colorado State placed 4th in the RecycleMania competition.
* 2006 - Single-stream paper and container collections started on campus.
* 2006 - Recycle bins were tested in the hallways of Summit Hall to improve recycling. Rates increased 8%.
* 2007 - Housing & Dining Services committed to placing recycling bins in the residence halls (budget permitting). 4 of 10 halls have recycle bins in the hallways.
* 2007 - ISW introduced the 1st zero waste Presidents Address Picnic trash sent to the landfill was reduce by 96%
* 2007 - Colorado State placed 3rd in Waste Minimization for RecycleMania and 9th overall.
* 2008 - Colorado State placed 2nd for RecycleMania Grand Champion and 5th in Waste Minimization.
Learn more about CSU's Recycling and Integrated Solid Waste program at http://www.facilities.colostate.edu/index.asp?url=buildings/recycle.
Contact: Sheela Backen
Phone Number: (970) 491-0122