Yale to transition to single-stream recycling

Starting next semester, students will no longer have to worry about separating their recyclables in residential colleges.

Over the course of the academic year, the University will transition to single-stream recycling, a process that allows the mixing of all recyclable items such as paper, metals and glass in the same container. This change is expected to increase the University’s recycling rates by simplifying the system,Melissa Goodall, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability,said.

“It is an easier and more inclusive way to recycle,” Goodall said. “The biggest component to me is we should be reducing the overall volume of waste …This is going to be an important first step.”

The shift to single-stream recycling, which makes the collectionmore efficient, should help the University reach its goal of increasing its recycling rate by 25 percent by 2013, Yale Waste and Recycling Manager Bob Ferretti said. A recycling rate measures the percentage of all waste material thrown in recycling receptacles.

Waste receptacles will now be designated as either for trash only or for mixed recycling. Ferretti added that due to space constraints, cardboard, while technically a paper, should be flattened and disposed in designated cardboard containers around campus. Still, cardboard will also be recycled with single-stream methods.

The University began the switchto single-stream recycling with a “very successful” pilot program implemented last semester, he said. As part of this program, single-stream receptacles were placed at various indoor and outdoor locations such as Beinecke Plaza, Divinity North and the main entrance of Woolsey Hall. Ferretti said response from users and custodial staff on the collection end was positive.

Jimmy Murphy ’13, co-director of Sustainability Education Peers, said he expects the addition of the single-stream process to increase recycling rates because students will only need to carry one container to recycling stations.

Once the conversion process is complete, he said, STEP will help increase student awareness of the change by making posters, sending out emails and making signs in recycling areas. He added that each residential college will most likely host a study break to explain the changes in the recycling process.

Ferretti said that while the program’s current focus is to transition the residential colleges to single-stream recycling, the entire campus should have single-stream recycling receptacles by the end of the academic year.

New Haven, much like the University, has also been shifting to more efficient recycling methods. All of New Haven’s curbside residential recycling is single-stream, Christine Eppstein Tang, director of the city’s sustainability office, said.

“The convenience factor alone makes it a winner,” she said.

She added that the simplicity of single-stream recycling also eliminates “pretty much any type of excuse” about sorting concerns people had in the past.

Tang said she hopes to see a 30 percent recycling rate for the city by the end of 2012.

Products that are not recycled are sent to a burn facility in Bridgeport, where Goodall said the released emissions affect New Haven’s air quality. Single-stream recycling, she said, is a way to both improve air quality and save resources.

Connecticut disposes 2.7 million tons of trash annually, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Comments

  • Catherine08

    “Products that are not recycled are sent to a burn facility in Bridgeport, where Goodall said the released emissions affect New Haven’s air quality.”

    Where are the recyclables sent? And how much does the processing of paper, plastic, and glass emit pollutants into the air? Is our air quality really better off?

  • yalengineer

    The recyclables are recycled and the air quality is significantly improved.

    Let me describe how paper is produced:
    1. A tree is cut down; probably in Brazil
    2. The tree is mechanically sheared into saw dust
    3. Saw dust is shipped to the US.
    4. Saw dust gets processed and pulped

    Let me describe how paper is recycled:
    1. Paper is pulped
    2. Pulp is bleached and treated
    3. Pulp is pressed and made into paper

    I just saved you a lot of pollutants.