Clayton State University is becoming even “greener” through the completion of a five-year process to become a more sustainable institution.
The University Center is the last building at Clayton State to implement a single stream recycling system, which increases the amount of recycling on campus by placing paper, plastics, aluminum and other recyclables into a single container at all employee work locations.
The idea for a campus-wide recycling program came about eight years ago out of employees voluntarily recycling, says Carolina Amero, Assistant Vice President of Auxiliary & Administrative Services.
“Some employees were taking bottles and cans from work home,” she says. “There was an interest (in recycling), but people didn’t have a means to do it on campus.”
By July 2009, all buildings at Clayton State began recycling paper. A student organization, Go Green, was created in April 2010 to help promote recycling. That same year, Coca Cola provided the University with bins to dispose of plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
“We work on such a beautiful campus that it seemed a natural fit to implement more environmentally friendly programs,” Amero says.
Clayton State eventually adopted a single stream recycling program in February 2011 through a partnership with its waste provider, Waste Management. Beyond public spaces on campus, employee workspaces were specifically targeted to reduce the amount of recyclable material that went in the trash.
Amero notes that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates 80 percent of office trash is recyclable.
Each employee’s trashcan has been converted into a recycle bin with a clear liner at their desk to use as a recycle bin. A separate, designated container is provided in a centralized location in each office suite for all employees to use to dispose of their non-recyclable waste. The recycle bins are emptied when they are more than half full.
Recyclable items include plastic containers, aluminum cans, glass, mixed office paper, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, spiral notebooks and phone books.
Between July 2013 and June 2015, waste collected on campus dropped from 338 tons to 292 tons. From July 2009 to June 2015, recycling increased from 22 tons to 71 tons.
Other sustainability initiatives on campus include hydration stations, biodegradable “to-go” meal containers and a biodigester for food waste in the Lakeside Dining Hall.
Amero says increased awareness among the faculty, staff and students is key to the recycling program’s success.
“If everybody does a little part in it, together we make a big difference,” she says.