To the Editor:

There are 20,000 Yalies on campus if you count all the faculty, staff and students. In the process of studying, working and playing we inevitably produce some trash. In honor of today, America Recycles Day, I thought to share some information about what we recycle, and where it all goes.

Last year Yale recycled and donated a record 1,440 tons. Some of these items stayed close to home. Sixty-five tons of leaves went to an industrial-sized composting operation you can see from I-95 when crossing the bridge in West Haven. Much of the 44 tons of donated clothing and furniture went to nonprofits right here in New Haven. Some of the clothing, via Salvation Army on Crown Street, made its way into an international market for secondary clothing and rags. If you gave us your old shirt last year, it may be on the back of someone in a developing country right now.

Most of the recycling went first to local processors, then off to distant markets. More than 500 tons of our cardboard boxes went to Marcus Paper of West Haven before being baled and trucked to factories here or abroad. Most is made back into cardboard. More than 500 tons of paper went from the New Haven Transfer Station to Willimantic, Conn. before being baled and sold. It will be made back into tissue paper, insulation, pizza boxes and cereal boxes. The next pizza you order could be boxed in the first draft of last year’s term paper. Cans and bottles (106 tons) are separated via a conveyor belt in Willimantic into the three colors of glass, two types of plastic and aluminum and steel/tin. Glass can be made into fiberglass insulation and used in asphalt. Plastics may return as other bottles, industrial plastic or even carpeting and fleece. Steel can go to cars and desks, aluminum to airplanes.

Recyclables placed into Yale’s trash cans go to Bridgeport, Conn. There they are burned. New Haven is downwind from Bridgeport.

C.J. May F&ES ’89

Nov. 12, 2004

The writer is the Yale Recycling Coordinator.