2008-09 FY Annual Recycling Report

Radford University started recycling operations in the early 1990s. In an effort to place greater emphasis on Sustainability at Radford University, President Penelope Kyle dedicated three positions in the fall of 2008; sustainability coordinator, recycling coordinator and recycling technician.

In recent years an increase in construction waste has directly contributed to a rise in recycling rates. Another area affecting higher rates is the increased media support provided by the University Relations Department. This department worked closely with the Recycling Department this year to enhance and promote recycling. Their role has proved to be a very valuable asset to the Recycling
Department, directly impacting the recycling efforts put forth by the campus and local communities. Some of their mechanisms to promote recycling included the RU Today and the RU website. RU’s recycling efforts were also showcased in local and student newspapers and also the RU Magazine. Their support is extremely valuable to our overall efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

New buildings and building renovations on campus include the new Covington Fine Arts Center, Young Hall renovation, and the Heth Hall renovation. New recycling receptacles have been set-up in these sites. Below is the Radford University final recycling statistics for fiscal year 2009:

Annual Recycling Rate: 26.46%Total Recyclables: 568.24 tonsTotal Solid Waste: 1,579.14 tons
Containers: 10.67 tonsMixed Paper: 68.91 tonsCorrugated Cardboard: 71.41 tons

The following snapshot derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WAste Reduction Model (WARM) Calculator reflects figures specifically from RU’s three main recycling categories (Containers, Mixed Paper, and Corrugated Cardboard):

  • Total Change in Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions: -471 MTCO2E
    (Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent)**
  • Total Change in Energy Use: -2,369 million BTU**
    (This is equivalent to 22 households’ Annual Energy Consumption; 409 Barrels of Oil; or 19,065 Gallons of Gasoline)

*Note: Recyclable construction waste may cause the overall annual recycling percentage rate to significantly fluctuate from year to year based on high tonnages recorded.
**Note: A negative value indicates an emission reduction; a positive value indicates an emission increase.

Waste Minimization - Why is it important?
Waste minimization is defined as a means of reduction of any solid or hazardous waste that is generated or subsequently treated, stored, or disposed of. The first priority should be to reduce waste on the front end, basically alleviate the need to recycle in the first place. The next priority should be to reuse material, and last,
to recycle materials and keep them from ending up in the landfill.

Recycling - Why is it important?
Before you know about the importance and benefits of recycling and its relationship to a better environmental condition, it is essential to understand what recycling is. Recycling refers to the process of collecting used materials which is usually considered as ‘waste’ and reprocessing them. In this process these used materials are sorted and processed to be used as ‘raw materials’ for the production of new products. Recycling varies from ‘re-use’ in the sense that while re-use just means using old products repeatedly, recycling means using the core
elements of an old product as raw material to manufacture new goods. Recycling is good for the environment, saves energy, and creates jobs.

Current Accomplishments and Improvements
With the new recycling positions created and an effort to increase awareness across campus, many updates and new initiatives were created. Many of the accomplishments and process improvements are discussed below:

Recycling Stream Conversion
RU converted from individually categorized recycling streams (e.g. newspaper, colored paper, magazines, etc.) into one co-mingled (consolidated) recycling stream which is referred to as mixed paper recycling. Another co-mingled stream is the container (glass, aluminum/metal cans, and plastic resin codes #1 & #2) recycling category. These new recycling formats streamline the entire process and take much of the guess work out of the recycling process, thus enhancing recycling opportunities for staff and students alike. Recycling at RU is accomplished in all facilities, in administrative buildings, dining halls, and residential halls.

Recycling Website
New improvements were made this year to the RU Recycling website. Additional front page headers and categories were added. New recycling guidelines are
now available for download and printing from the website as well. A newly revised recycling percentage rate tracker was also developed. This new recycling rate tracker was converted from a calendar year to a fiscal year tracker
to become more inline with academic operations. This new tracker was also built to automatically calculate recycling figures, thus saving administrative time.

New Student Move-In
During the Fall 2008 student move-in, new improvements were implemented to capture and recycle cardboard on a much larger scale. Various cardboard drop sites were designated outside all residence halls; each site was identified with a new banner type sign. Hauling trailers were used to move the cardboard to the compactors for recycling. This improvement at this year’s move-in yielded an approximate 29 percent rise in cardboard recycling over the previous year. Additionally, new mobile outdoor recycling bins were provided at move-in to recycle drink containers.

  • 2007 - Cardboard recycled: 5.22 Tons Landfill waste: 9.62 Tons
  • 2008 - Cardboard recycled: 6.74 Tons Landfill waste: 6.64 Tons

Recyclemania 2009
Radford University competed in Recyclemania for the first time ever. Recyclemania is a friendly competition between colleges and universities nationwide (and Canada) designed to promote waste reduction and recycling habits. The competition spanned a 10-week period from January 18th through March 28th. The main goal is to reduce waste generated on campus, reuse, and recycle. Another area of focus is to gain increased participation among faculty, staff, and the student body, ultimately resulting in a life-style change toward sustainability. Schools report waste and recycling data on a weekly basis and are then ranked nationally. This year, 510 colleges and universities participated in Recyclemania. Radford University competed against 15 other schools within the state of Virginia. Overall, the total amount of recyclables for this year’s competition by all schools equaled 69.4 million pounds. Below are the specific statistics for RU:

  • Grand Champion Competition (which is the combined total of waste reduction and recycling weight) – RU ranked 12th out of 13 schools in Virginia (at 11.62% cumulative recycling rate)
  • Per Capita Classic Competition (Largest amount of recyclables per person) – RU ranked 14th out of 18 (cumulative rate of 6.49 lbs. per person)
  • Gorilla Prize Competition (Highest gross tonnage of recyclables) – RU ranked 9th out of 18 schools (with a cumulative recyclable weight of 65,900 lbs.)
  • Waste Minimization Category – RU ranked 4th out of 8 schools in Virginia (Cumulative waste reduction rate of 55.89 lbs. per person)
  • Targeted Paper Category – RU ranked 12th out of 18 schools in Virginia (Cumulative rate of 2.36 lbs. per person)
  • Corrugated Cardboard – RU ranked 11th out of 18 schools in Virginia (cumulative rate of 3.18 lbs. per person)
  • Containers (Aluminum, glass, plastic) – RU ranked 9th out of 18 schools in Virginia (cumulative rate of 0.95 lbs. per person)

In coordination with the local YMCA, Radford University launched the first YTOSS operation during the Spring 2009 move-out. Y-TOSS is a program designed to collect unwanted items from students when they vacate their residence hall rooms at move-out. These items typically include rugs, clothes, cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods, furniture, electronic devices, and so on. These items are then sold at the YMCA Thrift Stores or donated to various charities. Also, certain household items unique to student move-in are warehoused and then sold to inbound students in the fall to set up their dorm rooms. This year’s program yielded a total of 15,228 lbs. (7.61 tons) of donated items. Our collective goal is to continue and expand this successful program in years to come.

Outdoor Recycling at Sporting & Special Events
The Recycling Department was proactive in supporting RU sporting events at the Dedmon Center, Cupp Stadium, and alternate athletic sites. Recycling opportunities were offered at various sporting events including, Basketball, Track & Field, Tennis, Baseball, Hardball, and Soccer. Specific events included the Dedmon Center Reopening Celebration, VA High School League’s Spring Jubilee (hosting high school athletic tournaments), Homecoming, Highlander Fest, and Fall Move-In.

Earth Day
On April 22, 2009, Radford University recognized “Earth Day”. Many departments on campus participated. The recycling and sustainability staff set up various informational tables and provided related information to students and staff. A recycling contest was held and prizes were awarded. A tree was also planted on the Heth lawn in commemoration of this special day. A sustainabilitythemed movie titled “The 11th Hour” was also viewed.

Student & Staff Support
A recycling competition was launched by Residence Director Jessica Abarquez between individual floors in Draper Residence Hall to promote recycling among residents. Both the recyclables and solid waste were weighed daily for one week. Then at the end of the week, the bags for solid waste were consolidated and opened to see how many recyclables were discarded into the solid waste stream. The floor with the highest amount of recycling and waste reduction won the competition. The second floor residents won the competition and were awarded a free pizza party. On another occasion, the Recycling Department assisted an RU professor; Dr.
Judith Guinan with a student behavior study project for class credit, recycling was used as the catalyst to study human behavior in a controlled and uncontrolled environment. The Recycling Department along with Mr. James Blevins from the Housekeeping Department provided guidance and logistical support for this project.

Community Support
Our goal is to continually network and provide recycling guidance and support to local municipalities, businesses, and others, to build solid relationships with other entities with a common goal toward sustainability. This year we provided guidance and support to various off-campus entities as they started their first recycling operations or looked to enhance existing operations.

Labeling and Signage
The Recycling Department worked closely with the Facilities Management Sign Shop to develop recycling labeling for the new comingled recycling streams and informational recycling wall guides. This new labeling was updated campus wide during the winter break. There are individual recycling containers in certain areas of campus that still need to be updated to the most current recycling streams. Additionally, banners and informational signs were created to provide general guidance and support promotional events. By updating the labeling and signage, staff and students are better informed, taking the guess work out of recycling and directly improving recycling rates.

In April, Dining Services & Chartwells in coordination with the Recycling Department conducted a pilot composting project in Dalton Hall. Food waste and some paper items that were not otherwise recyclable were diverted from the landfill and sent to a local composting facility. This project not only helped create valuable compost but also reduced harmful methane emissions from the landfill. Another version of the pilot project will be implemented in the Fall of 2009. If this pilot program proves to be successful, the goal will be to expand this operation to other parts of the campus. In April, Dining Services produced approximately
1,400 lbs. of food waste daily.

Logistical Enhancements / Supplies
Two electric vehicles were utilized to support recycling operations. These vehicles are primarily utilized to pick up and deliver recyclables to staging areas prior to transport to off-campus recycling facilities. These vehicles will run over 20 miles on a single charge for a full day, produce no tailpipe emissions, and have a very minimal impact on energy and the environment when compared to gasoline vehicles. Recycling supplies were procured this school year to support recycling efforts campus wide. Mobile outdoor recycling receptacles were also available to support various outdoor events. Additional recycling receptacles were made available to support both mixed paper and container recycling throughout campus. Six permanent outdoor waste/recycling receptacles were also placed across campus.

Waste Mimimization
A major milestone was accomplished when a redundant influx of campus directories and off-campus phonebooks were highlighted. Collective measures were taken to reduce the number of off-campus phonebooks and eliminate hardcopy campus directories and promote electronic directories to offset financial and environmental impact through waste reduction.

Recycling Policy Development
The Recycling Working Group, a part of the larger Sustainability Steering Committee, developed a Recycling Policy to better clarify and document recycling operations on campus. This was sent to the campus Sustainability Steering Committee for review and was approved. This policy awaits formal approval by the President and the Board of Visitors.

Construction Waste / Recycling
The Recycling Department served as a liaison between designated contractors and various recycling vendors to recycle a large amount of annealed glass and scrap metal removed from a greenhouse renovation project on campus. This coordination resulted in tons of glass and scrap metal being recycled that would have otherwise been sent forward to local landfills.

Recycling Shredded Paper Products
With the increased awareness across campus, there has been better tracking and reporting of recycled materials. The Recycling Department canvassed offcampus vendors that provide shredding services to campus departments to obtain recycling credit. By canvassing these vendors, this credit was documented and uploaded to the newly developed recycling tracker.

Future Plans
A number of first time initiatives have occurred this past academic year, the coming years will focus on improving on those successes and creating additional initiatives. Initiatives and opportunities will continue to evolve as increased awareness contributes to the amount of materials recycled and as the recycling market provides additional recycling streams. Some of the future initiatives being considered:

  • Expand from recycling only plastics resin codes #1 and #2 to plastics #1 through #7.
  • Coordinate and support contractors to recycle construction materials and debris during demolition, renovations, and new building construction.
  • Launching a program to recycle cell phones on campus. Support the sustainability-themed residence halls. The Residential Life Department has designated the 2nd and thirdfloors in Draper Hall and the second floor in Peery Hall as sustainability-themed floors. These sites
    will be referred to as the “RU Greenhouses”. The goals are to possibly expand recycling opportunities, offer environmentally-preferred housekeeping supplies, and include other sustainability programs on these floors. These halls will try new products or processes and then be evaluated for possible expansion campus wide.
  • Installing a pulping system to reduce the amount of water being transported to compost and/or landfill stations.
  • Bulk housekeeping products:
    Evaluate roll paper towel products to reduce the amount of paper being used (Tri-fold or Bi-fold) and Installing bulk cleaning solution dilution control centers to reduce the amount of individual containers being used.
  • Start CD / DVD recycling as a pilot project in the sustainability-themed RU Greenhouse residence hall floors.
  • Continue to canvass recycling vendors to enhance the RU recycling program and offset operational expenses.
  • Increase recycling visibility by improving advertisements and photo archives on the recycling website.
  • Continue to solicit student involvement and maintaining an on-going volunteer list.

Closing Remarks

This year the recycling staff attended various conferences and workshops. We subscribed to several recycling organizations in a concerted effort to network and continually find and exploit new and better recycling processes. Our overall goals are to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill, increase the amount of materials recycled, reduce our campus carbon footprint and make Radford University the most sustainable campus in the Commonwealth.

Download the full PDF version of the 2008-09 Annual Recycling Report.