IUPUI looking for ways to increase recycling rate

  • Oct. 8, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- By all accounts, IUPUI students, staff and faculty like IUPUI’s single-stream recycling program. But there’s a problem: Only 10 percent of what could be recycled is recycled.

“We’re not sure what the problems are, but we have convened a group to identify where breaks occur in campus recycling and determine how best to fix them,” said Colleen McCormick, director of the IUPUI Office of Sustainability.

The recycling rate was underscored recently when the Office of Sustainability held a dumpster dive in which students had the opportunity to sort through the contents of campus dumpsters. Of the nearly 1,400 pounds of material in the dumpsters, 915 pounds were recyclables. The recyclable materials included 575 pounds of bottles and cans; 305 pounds of fiber; and 35 pounds of miscellaneous metal.

The results indicate that IUPUI could pursue a recycling rate in excess of 65 percent, McCormick said.

The fact that the campus switched to single-stream recycling 10 months ago makes these results disappointing, McCormick said. “We know the campus can significantly improve its recycling rate.”

Single-stream recycling creates a simpler recycling process that usually increases the amount of waste being recycled and reduces the amount of waste that ends up in the trash, McCormick said. With single-stream recycling, there is no sorting, and there are few materials that cannot be recycled.

“We are open to ideas and suggestions on ways to improve,” McCormick said.

In addition to creating a taskforce to evaluate and address recycling problems, sustainability staff and staff from Campus Facility Services will walk through campus buildings to distribute recycling bins and information on how to recycle at IUPUI, McCormick said. The office also will develop an educational video and continue to educate the campus community about recycling.

Students sort through contents of IUPUI dumpsters.

Students sort through contents of IUPUI dumpsters.

Print Quality Photo

Diane Brown
Richard Schneider