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The Colgate Recycling Challenge

By John Pumilio on August 6, 2009
Do you know where our trash goes? Hint: it never goes away (as in “throw away”). At Colgate, our trash goes to the county landfill in the Town of Lincoln (less than 20 miles from campus). Last year, as a community, Colgate produced about 2,000,000 lbs of landfill trash. This was responsible for over 880 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and cost us nearly $60,000 in tipping fees. Unfortunately, by a conservative estimate, at least 50 percent of our “trash” is actually recyclable. We are optimistic that we can do a lot better this year! A good place to start is with clearly labeled recycling areas and well-placed bins. So, we need standarized, campus-wide recycling signs that are consistent around campus.
A highly visible recycling program will not only save money and protect our environment, it would also leave a positive impression on visitors and other guests who frequently come to our home.
Please download these signs and use at your next event or in your living area, classroom, or office:
*It is recommended that you print these signs using 11 X 17 recycled paper and laminate them for longevity.
Before you label your recycling stations and trash areas, it is important to know how recycling works. It is easy. Every area needs three recycle bins:
  1. plastic/glass/metal cans (including all plastics #1-7, all bottles and cans, plastic milk and water jugs, yogurt containers, laundry soap and detergent bottles, plastic cups, and plastic grocery bags)
  2. paper products (including print and copier paper, newspaper, notebook paper, envelopes, magazines, and catalogues)
  3. cardboard (including pizza boxes, cereal boxes, corrugated cardboard, paper bags, and dry food boxes).
See Colgate’s Recycling Flyer for more detailed information.
See Madison County’s Recycling Guide for comprehensive recycling information in our county.
Notice that it is not necessary to separate glass from plastic from metal cans. This is accomplished at the recycling station. Paper products do need to be separated from plastic/glass/cans. No one will separate paper from bottles and cans and when they are thrown together they all end up in the landfill – a terrible waste of money, energy and precious resources! The same is true if recyclables end up in the trash bin: no one will reach in and pull them out – again, they will end up in the landfill. Therefore, the take home message is to reduce or eliminate contamination (the mixing of recyclables with trash) in our bins all over campus. This is everybody’s responsibility!
What do you think? What ideas do you have for improving our recycling rates on campus?

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