College launches recycling program
By Tatiana Cooke, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 6, 2010
As part of a series of changes intended to improve Dartmouth’s recycling rate and divert solid waste from the local landfill, old waste receptacles were replaced with smaller trash and recycling containers around campus on June 20, Gary Hill, director of custodial and recycling services at Facilities, Operations and Management, said in an interview with The Dartmouth. The containers — which College staff can empty at centralized collection locations on campus — will reduce the amount of waste produced and increase the number of items recycled, according to Hill.
The program aims to change the percentage of recycled waste from its current 11 percent to 40 percent by 2015. If this goal is reached, it will cut the amount of waste sent to the landfill in half, Hill said.
“Our [recycling] rates should be much higher for the size of the campus and the activity that goes on here,” Hill said.
Old trash and recycling containers have been replaced by two new smaller containers — one cardboard box for recyclables and a 54-ounce plastic bucket for other trash. If the new system is not able to manage the amount of waste being processed, adjustments will be made, Hill said.
Under the new system, employees are now responsible for carrying their trash and recyclables to a central collection point within the building, Hill said. Most people will have to walk no more than 30 feet to reach a waste collection location, and waste from shared space like hallways and restrooms will continue to be collected by custodial staff, he said.
These changes will help reduce labor costs by lowering the number of trash containers that custodians are responsible for, according to the FO&M website. The collection point containers will be emptied at least once a day and buildings that have more than one janitorial shift will be emptied once a shift, according to the website.
The program uses a “single stream” recycling system — also known as a “zero sort” system — that collects mixed paper, aluminum cans, glass and plastic in a single container and processes it at a recycling center in Williston, Vt., Hill said. The initiative is conducted in partnership with Northeast Waste Services, a subdivision of Casella Waste Systems of Rutland, Vt.
“Most institutions have a dual stream,” Hill said. “We went a step further, which makes it more user-friendly.”
Although the first few months of the program will act as a transition period, a minimum of 25 to 30 percent of the recycling rate should be in place by next July, according to Hill.
“My expectations through speaking with folks in [the zero sort field] is that 40 percent is not an unreasonable number to achieve over 12 to 18 months,” Hill said.
The discussion to institute a new waste reduction program began over a year ago, Hill said. The current program is driven in part by the idea that a more efficient recycling program will not only increase the recycling waste but also divert waste from the landfill, he said.
“If recycling becomes easier, our numbers will improve,” FO&M Director of Operations Frank Roberts said.
FO&M assessed College facilities in January in preparation for the program’s implementation, according to Hill. A survey of all of the containers on campus was completed during February and March to help reuse the containers currently on campus, he said. Old containers that cannot be used will be resold.
“Our goal is [to put] nothing in a landfill,” Hill said.
A committee of approximately 30 people — composed of staff from a variety of disciplines across campus and led by Hill and Suzanne Dafni, director of strategic sourcing at the College’s procurement services — was appointed in September 2009 to focus on managing waste on campus, according to Hill. Two weeks before implementation, the group began to post information about the new system, both online and on flyers around campus, that included a guide of recyclables and a list of commonly asked questions and answers, Hill said.
Three days and nights were spent retrieving old trash containers and distributing the new ones, according to Hill.
Dartmouth Recycles, a program run by the Sustainability Office, also plans to continue adding compost sites around campus like those at Thayer Dining Hall and the Courtyard Cafe to increase the landfill diversion rate, according to its website. The Sustainability Office could not be reached for comment by press time due to the ongoing hiring process for a sustainability manager of the Dartmouth Sustainability Initiative.