‘Sorting-at-source’ office recycling

Pitching in to reach our waste-diversion goals

Sorting and recycling our garbage has become a routine part of our lives at home. What started in 1998 with provincial regulations requiring paper recycling has gradually grown to include yard waste, refundable containers, recyclable tins, glass and plastics, electronics, batteries and, most recently, kitchen scraps. As the regulations have expanded, we have adapted to new requirements and practices and, although it takes more personal effort, we can all agree—it’s the right thing to do.

It’s the right thing to do on campus, as well. UVic’s Sustainability Action Plan and Sustainability Policy call for a campus-wide waste diversion rate of 75 per cent by 2019, with an eventual goal of zero waste. Sorted recycling has been in place across much of the campus since 2011, with sorting stations installed in most classroom buildings and student common areas. That, combined with improved food waste composting, has led to an overall diversion rate of 68 per cent at UVic today.

But, to reach our goals—and to comply with regulations—we need to do more.  A university waste audit undertaken in 2012 showed that, at 45 per cent, recycling rates in office areas were significantly lower than that of other areas on campus. That’s about to change. After a successful pilot project in four office buildings in 2013, a new recycling system is now being implemented in all office spaces on campus.

What’s changing?

During the first week of March, all offices on campus will see the installation of new three-bin recycling stations where waste can be sorted into mixed paper, recyclable cans and plastics, or landfill waste.  These stations will be placed in convenient sites on every floor. As well, each building will have at least one recycling bin for glass, located in a central area, to accommodate recent requirements to separate glass from other recyclables.

At the same time, desk-side waste bins will be removed and replaced with mini-containers that will hang from each desk’s blue recycling bin. All faculty and staff members will be responsible for emptying their own bins at the central sorting stations, at their convenience. Janitorial staff will no longer be emptying desk-side paper and garbage bins, but will instead service the 238 additional sorting stations on a frequent basis. Janitors will also continue to service common areas such as meeting rooms, labs and copy rooms.

Originally intended for a January launch, the program has been delayed to allow Facilities Management and the Office of Campus Planning and Sustainability to respond to questions and concerns raised by some members of the community. Since early January, meetings have taken place with union groups and other members of the community to better inform people of this initiative.

UVic is a recognized leader in developing and implementing sustainable operating practices that reduce the overall impact to our environment. As members of the university community, we all have the responsibility to reduce the large volume of banned recyclable materials that are currently being sent to landfill—and together, our individual efforts can add up to big changes across campus. Please contact Nadia Ariff, Waste Reduction Coordinator (nariff@uvic.ca) or Lynn Bartle, Implementation Project Lead (lbartle@uvic.ca) with any questions or suggestions you may have to ensure this project has a successful rollout.

Full program info: uvic.ca/sustainability/topics/waste/recycling-expansion/.

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Keywords: administrative, sustainability

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