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KU recycling efforts will expand to workstations

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

new desk-side recycle bins with a sidecar waste compartment will be distributed across the KU Lawrence campus beginning in July.LAWRENCE — Recycling is about to get more personal at the University of Kansas.

In July, Facilities Services and KU Recycling will team up to expand a new system for recycling and trash collection that includes deskside containers for both recycling and trash. Faculty and staff are being asked to empty both containers from their offices into nearby recycling and landfill containers. The practice was launched with the opening of Capitol Federal Hall.

The new bin system will roll out building-by-building on the Lawrence campus. KU Recycling will contact unit administrators individually before their respective buildings are outfitted. Offices will receive containers for recycling that have a smaller trash container attached. Once the building has been equipped with containers to support the new practice, employees will be expected to empty their workstation bins into the larger centralized bins.

The new approach to waste reduction and management is already having a positive effect at KU.

“We think the mini-bin does affect behavior in the sense that it causes people to think a bit more about what truly is landfill versus recyclable material,” said James Guthrie, interim dean of the School of Business. 

The practice is employed at other academic institutions across the country and is growing a record of beneficial change, said Jeff Severin, director of KU’s Center for Sustainability. The routine has been shown to increase personal responsibility for and awareness of both waste generation and reduction by individuals, as well as promote more intention toward recycling, he said.  

A recent study by Action Research and Keep America Beautiful found that replacing a deskside trash can with a smaller container attached to a recycling bin increased collection of recyclables from 65 percent to 85 percent and decreased contamination by 20 percent. The different approach also reduced the amount of recyclables that end up in the trash from 29 percent to 13 percent.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the new system and centralized waste drop-off will allow custodial staff to focus their efforts on other cleaning responsibilities more essential to campus health and beauty. Managers will be able to redirect over 160 hours of labor each week to other essential tasks.

KU Recycling will not provide liners for the deskside bins. Faculty and staff are encouraged to empty the smaller waste bins frequently and repurpose used grocery sacks as disposable liners.

Accommodation services will be available to faculty and staff who need assistance emptying their deskside bins. To request accommodations, contact Catherine Johnson, director of the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility, by email or call 785-864-3650.

KU Recycling already has strong support for recycling efforts on campus, with more than 95 building are outfitted with over 1,000 centralized recycling bins. Currently, the program averages 42,000 pounds of recyclable material collected every two weeks and nearly 600 tons of material annually. 

Faculty and staff with questions, comments or concerns may reach out to KU Recycling at kurecycling@ku.edu.

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