Rocket Reduction promotes smarter recycling

June 11, 2019 | UToday
By Christine Wasserman

The University is expanding its efforts to educate faculty, staff and students on how to better recycle materials in order to significantly reduce recycling contamination and increase UToledo’s environmental stewardship.

“Gone are the days when people are simply encouraged to recycle,” said Michael Green, director for energy management. “What we’ve learned over the years is that too many of us use recycling containers improperly, tossing the wrong items into the blue bins. That cross-contamination defeats the purpose because then everything in that bin ends up at the landfill.”

Organizations also have realized they can no longer afford the enormous amount of time it takes to sort through and manage recycled materials. Therefore, all too often they combine recyclables with their waste for ease of disposal and to reduce costs, Green added.

To improve recycling at the University, blue, single-stream recycling bins are being removed from individual offices across campuses to promote the use of existing multi-stream recycling stations located throughout each UToledo facility. This measure helps to streamline the process and to reduce costs associated with recycling, while still offering the campus community ready access to recycling bins.

If you have any questions about using multi-stream recycling stations — which provide separate bins for recycling paper, cardboard, metal and plastic — refer to the label atop each blue bin, as it provides clear tips for sorting.

“Even before we recycle items, we should reduce and reuse materials whenever possible,” said Jennell Brown, sustainability specialist, who is spearheading UToledo’s recycling and reduction efforts through the Rocket Reduction program.

“When in doubt, throw it out,” Brown advised. “It’s better to throw any questionable items into the trash — such as that potato chip bag, a book or a box’s packaging material — than to put it into a recycling bin where it might contaminate the system.”

As examples of how to reduce waste and reuse materials, you should consider:

• Purchasing a coffee store’s mug to use whenever you buy coffee from that store vs. frequently disposing paper coffee cups;

• Filling a reusable glass with drinking water from the office water cooler vs. buying water in disposable plastic containers; and

• Using washable tote bags at grocery stores instead of using unrecyclable plastic bags that end up in the landfill.

Additional information about reducing waste and recycling may be found on UToledo’s sustainability website.

Throughout the coming months, more Rocket Reduction tips, as well as training, will be available to students and employees.

“A University-wide reduction program can’t be successful without many individuals choosing to learn responsible recycling practices,” Brown said. “I’m proud the University is supporting the Rocket Reduction program, especially because it teaches students how to care for the environment … habits they can use long after graduation to improve whatever community they call home.”

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