Thursday, April 7, 2016

11 fun facts you may not know about Waste Reduction and Recycling at U-M!

Because who doesn't want to learn 11 new things about Waste Reduction and Recycling at their awesome school?

1. (Almost) All dining halls send pre- and post-consumer waste to be turned into compost. We have pre-consumer composting at all dining halls, the Union, the League, Pierpont Commons, Palmer Commons, and Mujo Cafe. Post-consumer composting is being practiced at East Quad, South Quad, North Quad, and Bursley. This means that when you have a meal at East Quad with friends, your food scraps are composted! Michigan Dining is also working toward post-consumer composting at the rest of their locations!  Just in case you don't know, here are our definitions of pre- and post- consumer waste:
Pre-consumer waste: Material that is discarded before it is ready for consumer use. For example, if a restaurant prepares a fruit salad with an orange in it, the orange peel would be an example of pre-consumer waste.
Post-consumer waste: Material that is discarded after it has been given to the consumer. For example, if you go to Sava's and don't finish your meal (an act which I don't personally see as a possibility at Sava's) the remainder of your meal is compostable, post-consumer waste.

2. Our compostable waste here at U-M is sent to WeCare Organics, who operate the City of Ann Arbor's compost site. At WeCare, our food scraps are formed into long piles called windrows, and begins to aerobically compost. Compost from this site is then sold to farmers, landscapers, and homeowners. Pretty cool, huh? To read more about composting at the University, read our composting post or check out our webpage on composting

3. Any of your student groups' events can be zero waste (have exclusively composting and recycling, no trash). Find out how to make your student group's next event Zero Waste through the Student Sustainability Initiative's Zero Waste event program. Learn more about zero waste here at U-M from our composting post.

Cooking sheets are recyclable on campus!
4. You can recycle old cooking sheets in any recycling bin or dumpster on campus. You can also recycle your brown bag from Panera, Chipotle, or Noodles & Company in any on-campus recycling bin. Milk cartons and Soy milk boxes are also recyclable on-campus. Paper towel rolls and post-it notes are also recyclable here on campus! Staples and paperclips are okay to go in the recycling bins on campus as well. 

5. The Rufus you see on campus isn't the original Rufus. Can you spot the differences in the photos below? The original Rufus is in the photo on the left, and the most recent Rufus is in the photo on the right.

6. Speaking of Rufus, he has a Facebook, a Twitter, and an Instagram account (@rufustherecycler). Follow him now for free recycling and waste reduction tips, giveaways, and event invites!
7. You can recycle your old batteries at the Fishbowl. You cannot place old batteries into an on-campus trash or recycling bin. Improperly disposing of batteries can lead to the leaching of poisonous chemicals and acids into our groundwater. Visit this page to learn more.
8. Glass recycling has been temporarily suspended on campus. The reason for this suspension is the lack of a sufficient market for recycled glass containers. Prior to the suspension, glass recycling accounted for less than 1% of the total recycled waste produced by U-M. To learn more about the glass recycling suspension, click here.
9. All recyclables you place in an on-campus recycling bin go to the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority. To read more about the journey your recyclables take after you put them in a bin, read our "Where does my recycling go?" post.

10.  Plastic bottle caps (depicted to the right) aren't recyclable through any old recycling bin on campus. The Waste Reduction and Recycling Office just launched a pilot program, Cap-Ture, to collect and recycling plastic and metal bottle caps. With the help of Terracycle, these caps will be recycled into new products. You can collect and send your plastic bottle caps to us via campus mail: Cap-Ture, 109 E. Madison St. campus zip 2943. Want to know more about Cap-ture? Visit our website.
11. You can recycle any electronic waste (old phones, speakers, wires and cables, etc.) at our annual E-Waste Recycling Event! This event is open to the public on Saturday, May 7th, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Pioneer High School Parking Lot. This event is coordinated/sponsored by the Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS), and questions regarding the event should be directed toward OCS.   

That's all, folks! We hope you learned something new. As always, please direct any questions to