UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


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Women’s Basketball Green Gameday!

1 down, 1 to go: Women’s Basketball Green Game Day was a success! Thanks to everyone who came out to watch the women’s basketball team beat SMU 102-41 for their 30th consecutive win. By coming to this game, viewers supported the school’s athletics and recycling initiatives. Volunteers from EcoHusky and student interns from the Office of Environmental Policy collected the bottles left in the stands, and recycled almost 300 bottles and would have had to recycle more if it weren’t for the help of recycle-savy fans.

Volunteers with all the bottles we collected from the stands after the game

Volunteers with all the bottles we collected from the stands after the game

Volunteers from EcoHusky at Avery Point also came out to support Green Game Day and the women’s basketball team; it was hard to miss them as they handed out tattoos and flyers at the entrances to Gampel Pavilion. Stay tuned for Men’s Basketball Green Game Day on February 22nd as UConn plays SMU!

– Chris

Volunteers from the Avery Point chapter of EcoHusky along with our very own Kerrin Kinnear

Volunteers from the Avery Point chapter of EcoHusky along with our very own Kerrin Kinnear

 

OEP Interns Emily and Eric "man the can" to direct waste and recycling into the correct bins

OEP Interns Emily and Eric “man the can” to direct waste and recycling into the correct bin


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Surplus Department Helps UConn Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

UConn’s Surplus Department plays a significant role in helping the University achieve its environmental goals, especially when it comes to waste reduction and recycling. The main objective of Surplus is to help all University departments properly dispose of University property—furniture, electronics and equipment that are no longer needed or serviceable. Surplus works in conjunction with Central Stores and both departments are part of Logistics Administration.

Although we typically think of recycling when we see the three arrow symbol, the real meaning is the “Three Rs” of the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse and recycle.  Often, the OEP focuses on outreach aimed at changing individual behavior in order to increase recycling of everyday items, like bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.  This past year, we’ve collaborated with the Surplus Department to raise awareness about the benefits of institutional efforts across the entire waste hierarchy.  Surplus services translate directly to increases in the Three Rs and better quantification and reporting of these benefits have helped UConn reduce its environmental footprint and achieve the #1 ranking in the 2013 Sierra Club Cool Schools survey.

Special thanks to Annemarie Ryan of Surplus and Central Stores for writing and contributing this informative post about how her department helps UConn reduce, reuse and recycle!

REDUCE

The Surplus Department’s first task is to reduce the number of items that are purchased by recirculating existing extra (or surplus) items.  Surplus items are transferred to and from departments—tables, chairs, cabinets, lab equipment, electronics, and more. In addition to sparing the environment, this saves taxpayers money; receiving departments do not spend state funds buying new items.

Surplus Showroom

University employees are welcome to visit the Surplus Showroom to “tag” furniture, electronics, and equipment for departmental use at no cost—a great way to reap savings and spare already stretched budgets.

The Depot Campus Showroom located at 6 Ahern Lane is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 3pm.

REUSE

The Surplus Department supports reuse by selling items at the Public Surplus Store. “Much of the furniture and equipment gets a new life, either by being used by other departments or sold at our Public Surplus Store,” said Joe Hollister, Surplus Supervisor.

Public Surplus Store

The Public Surplus Store located on the Depot Campus at 6 Ahern Lane is open 10am to 3pm on the second Friday of every month. It is open to all University staff, students, and the general public. Only cash payments are accepted.

Crowds looking for deals at the monthly Public Surplus Store sale.

Crowds looking for deals at the monthly Public Surplus Store sale.

RECYCLE

Finally, the Surplus Department recycles what cannot be reused. Other surplus is recycled to certified recycler companies. Last year alone, the Surplus Department recycled 230 tons of obsolete equipment and 84 tons of electronic waste (e-waste).  E-waste consists of damaged or discarded electronic devices and associated materials. E-waste items cannot be discarded in regular trash due to their high concentrations of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Some of the e-waste recycled last year: computers, monitors, office equipment, cell phones, blackberries, and television sets.

Surplus Student Employees preparing a copier for recycling

Surplus Student Employees preparing a copier for recycling

In addition, Central Stores provides a pickup service to departments for recycling their used printer and fax toner cartridges. Over the past three years, more than 9,500 cartridges have been recycled using this service.

New E-Waste Recycling Bins

As part of the University’s ongoing environmental stewardship efforts, Logistics Administration, including the Surplus Department and the Document Production Center, has partnered with the Office of Environmental Policy to improve an important component of the University’s e-waste program.

New e-waste recycling bins designed by the Document Production Center are conveniently located at highly visible and well traversed areas, including the Student Union, the Co-op, and Homer Babbidge Library. Each location has one bin for inkjet cartridges, a second bin for batteries/laptop batteries, and a third bin for cell phones.

New E-Waste Recycling Bins at the Student Union

The entire University community—students, staff, and faculty—are encouraged to use the new e-waste recycling bins to keep their e-waste out of landfills.

For more information about e-waste recycling and the new recycling bins, please visit: http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/recycling/ewaste.html.

Surplus Cleanup Campaign Big Success

Last summer, Surplus ran a very successful cleanup campaign. Departments were given a special opportunity to easily dispose of their surplus. Surplus employees went to departments’ locations, completed paperwork, and picked up surplus—all in one shot.

“Summer is the best time for us to help departments dispose of surplus and clean up their classrooms, labs, and offices because we have UConn students working more hours during the summer break,” said Hollister. “We thank all departments who took part in this initiative to help UConn advance its environmental goals and campus beautification efforts.” Jeff Ward, Hollister’s right-hand man added, “We also extend a special thanks to our student workforce. We could not have completed this massive job without our student employees who dug in everyday and never complained.”

Processed requests ranged from picking up laptop computers to hauling away multiple truckloads of surplus. Some impressive facts and figures:

  • 88 surplus pickups received and processed from almost as many departments.
  • 32 full truckloads of furniture and electronics removed. (Surplus trucks are 7 feet wide x 14 feet long.)
  • 27 pallets of e-waste recycled—roughly a full tractor load weighing about 15.5 tons.

Surplus Policies and Procedures

The Legal Stuff

Per Public Act 91-256, the University has the authority to dispose of surplus, unused and/or unserviceable equipment and supplies. Proper disposal of University property is required pursuant to Section 4a-77a of the General Statutes. Surplus Management determines if items sent to Surplus will be recycled to the University or discarded. After 30 days, surplus not selected for transfer to another department may be sold at the Public Surplus Store. University property can never be discarded without approval by Surplus Management.

ACT 39 Forms and Kuali (KFS)

To obtain surplus, departments complete an ACT 39 Form, available at the Surplus Showroom. To send items to Surplus, departments complete an ACT 39 Form or use the KFS Capital Assets System.

For complete information about Surplus procedures, visit the Central Stores website or contact Surplus at 486-3094.


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The Mystery of Single Stream Recycling

One of the most frequent questions we get at the OEP is “can I recycle X,” followed closely by “what recycling goes in each bin?”

At UConn, we have had single stream recycling since 2009.  This means that any recyclable material can go in any recycling bin.  Sometimes this is also called mixed recycling.  We have a number of different types of recycling bins on campus – we have the new green bins outside that are coupled with trash cans, we have the older rectangular cans with paper and bottle/can restricted lids, we have the small blue recycling bins for individual rooms or offices, we have white and red and yellow bins in the dorms.  Despite the difference in bins, any recyclable can go in any bin!

However, even with single stream, there are still a lot of questions about what is recyclable and what is not.

Some common items:

Plastic grocery bags – these cannot go into single stream recycling.  However, they can be recycled at most grocery stores.  This goes for any sort of recyclable plastic bag (such as newspaper bags, or plastic bubble packing material)

Paper coffee cups – these are generally not recyclable because the paper is actually lined with wax to prevent your hot beverage from leaking out of the cup.  Often the plastic lid and the paper sleeve are recyclable though!

Books – Check with your recycler, but Willimantic Waste Paper Company, the recycler for campus accepts paperback books for recycling, just put them into any recycling bin.

Shredded paper – Although shredded paper is recyclable, it can’t go into the single stream because the small pieces can’t be sorted out.  Offices on campus can contact central stores to pick up confidential documents for shredding. If your recycler can’t take shredded paper, contact them to find out where you can take shredded paper for recycling.

Ziplock Bags – Unfortunately these can’t go in the recycling.  Consider washing and reusing them, or purchasing reusable zipper bags for your snacks.

Envelopes with clear windows – These can go in the recycling bin!

Anything with food waste or grease – Even if the material would be otherwise recyclable, if it has food waste, please wash it before putting it into the recycling so you don’t contaminate the load.  If it’s contaminated with grease (such as cardboard from a pizza box), it can’t be recycled.

Check out this awesome video from WilliWaste explaining how their single stream recycling system works!


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Clothing Swap!

Tomorrow there is a clothing swap on campus!  Organized by two fabulous RAs in the CT Commons dorms, this is a great opportunity to send clothing you don’t want to a new home!

The event is on Tuesday, October 1st from 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. in the Branford Lounge in CT Commons. You can drop off your contributions from Noon until 10pm at Branford on Tuesday, or at the Branford Office today.

This event is an awesome example of the culture of sustainability we’re working hard to promote at UConn, and we here at the OEP are thrilled to see RAs creating these opportunities for their students!

The Details:

Feel free to bring all swapping items down to the Branford Office at anytime for the event on October 1st. The actual refreshments and swap will start at 4 and go until 10pm!

Clothing Swap-friendly items:

Coats
Dresses
Skirts
Suits
Pants
Jeans
Tops
Blouses
Sweaters
Tee-shirts
Work-out wear
Costumes
Shoes
Purses
Jewelry
Belts
Hats
Watches

 

What not to bring:

Note that all unclaimed items are donated to various local non-profits that provide clothing to people in need. Out of respect for fellow swappers and your community, please bring items nice enough to lend to a friend. Do not bring ripped, dirty, stained items or those with broken zippers, etc. All items must be freshly laundered and/or dry cleaned before arriving at our swap events. Thank you for your understanding.

Reusing flyer

 

If you have clothing that is not in good enough condition to swap or donate, consider putting it in a Clothing recycling box, such as Planet Aid so that it can be recycled as a textile, rather than just putting it in the trash.


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Recycling at UConn

Paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, bottles and cans – what do all of these materials have in common?  Did you know that all of them can be disposed of in the same recycling bin? Three years ago, the University of Connecticut, with the help of WilliWaste, revitalized its twenty-year-old recycling program and adopted a single-stream recycling system. The goals of the new program are to save even more energy, reduce more waste and further the prevention of pollution. In 2010, it was determined that faculty, staff and students at UConn recycle only about 20% of the disposable materials that they use each day. Since then, UConn has set a new goal of at least 58% by 2024. To expedite the University’s progress towards the lofty, sustainable goal, more than one hundred outdoor recycling bins have been added across campus. Just like the indoor recycling bins, any bin can accept any recyclable material.

Data shows that, since single stream recycling was implemented in 2010, the new program has been successful. The amount of waste tonnage by bottles, cans, and newspaper has significantly decreased as students and staff have started discarding all recyclables into the same container. The amount of waste tonnage by mixed paper and corrugated plastic has also decreased. Therefore, the amount of single streamed waste has grown and continues to do so. The University of Connecticut hopes to see the amount of waste tonnage for single stream recycling increase over the next few years. Ultimately, we wish to achieve our goal of having over half of our disposable materials recycled.

More can be recycled than you think!  Books, aluminum foil, and aerosol cans can all go into any recycling container.  There are also e-waste containers in several campus locations (Library, Student Union, Co-op) for printer ink or toner cartridges, batteries, and broken electronics.

Today, in 2013, the University has worked diligently to change the way the campus community views the importance of recycling with various events and programs. If you would like to help UConn further its waste reduction initiatives, get involved in the programs meant to promote the importance of recycling to students and to the community.  Each year, the Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) teams up with athletics to host three Green Game Days – one football game during the fall semester and two basketball games during the spring semester.  At these events, student volunteers encourage fans to recycle their used items instead of throwing them into garbage cans. Volunteers also collect recyclables from tailgate areas at football games, as well as lightly used shoes for donation at basketball games.  However, lightly used shoe and sneaker recycling is not a one day event.  Throughout the entire spring semester, lightly used shoes and sneakers are collected and donated to the student group Kicks for Africa. The shoes are then shipped and distributed to less fortunate children in African countries.

For other waste reduction, UConn runs a program called Give & Go at the end of each year. Give & Go is an opportunity for students to donate furniture, clothing, school supplies and nonperishable food items as they move out at the end of the semester (for a list of all collected and donated items, visit: http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/recycling/giveandgo.html) . The recycling and reuse program encourages students to donate unwanted belongings to local charities and non-profit organizations instead of throwing them away.  And of course we have regular surplus sales at the University Surplus store to send items the University no longer needs to a new home! (There’s one on Friday 8/9/13 – check it out!)

We don’t stop at reusing and recycling – we are also trying to reduce the amount of waste we produce.  The University has also opened a composting facility, and Dining Services has removed all trays from dining halls (with the exception of South Campus) to reduce the amount of food waste produced by students.  In addition to reducing the amount of food waste generated on the front end, any food that is disposed of is composted in eCorect machines located within the dining halls.  By composting organic waste, UConn is reducing the overall volume of waste while re-purposing it to divert waste from landfills.

Next time you have an empty bottle in your hand, remember to recycle it instead of tossing it into a garbage can.  Don’t be afraid to lift the lid of any recycling container and make use of UConn’s single stream program.  If you are unsure of what can and cannot be recycled, visit our recycling guidelines page or call the Office of Environmental Policy!

– Katie and Meredith


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Basketball Green Game Days: Spring 2013

Click on a picture to learn more about our green game days this spring! Thank you to everyone at the games who donated to Kicks for Africa. Collection of lightly used sneakers will continue throughout the semester at bins placed around campus.

 


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Back to School in Style

Every year before going back to school it’s always exciting to restock and update my clothes, school supplies, room decorations and everything else, but most often I hardly ever stop to consider the impacts of this fun process.  “Out with the old and in with the new” is the way most of us have come to live our lives, but this can be very wasteful.  You might not realize just how much you will throw away each time you buy new things.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to update your belongings, but before going straight to your favorite store and dumping what you already have into the dumpster, consider donating it.

In 2010, UConn diverted 14, 137 pounds of donations from going to dumpsters through the Give and Go program.  The program is especially useful at the end of the year when you don’t feel like packing up everything you’ve got. For now, if you’re still in the process of acquiring new items it’s not too late to be green about it!  Instead of purchasing brand new items, consider going to thrift stores, clothing swaps, or consignment shops. Not only are things cheaper there, but you can often find great unique pieces that no one else will have.  Look through your stuff and try not to get rid of anything that’s still useful, just for a newer model.  Also try trading with your friends, that way you can each have a change of scenery without having to spend a dime!  My favorite things are usually not what I buy new, but those random items I find at rummage sales or consignment shops because they are one of a kind and so different from items of mass production you see on every shelf.

Katie Kelleher
OEP Intern