Guest Posts

Recycling: It’s a Team Effort

By August 30, 2019July 30th, 2020No Comments

Walmart founder, Sam Walton, said, “We’re all working together; that’s the secret.” Let me tell you about our little secret! At Auburn, we are making a difference in waste reduction at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) by working together. The CVM has partnered with AU Waste Reduction and Recycling Department (WRRD), AU Risk Management and Safety (RMS), AU Office of Sustainability (OS), as well as our scientific supply vendor, VWR™, to minimize our landfill waste. Our collaborative efforts are making a significant impact on waste reduction.

AU’s WRRD has a great program for taking care of our most recyclable products. At our desks, we have blue bins for mixed paper. In more common areas, we have receptacles for plastic containers, as well as aluminum and steel cans. Flattened cardboard is collected by our custodial contractors, ABM®. WRRD provides larger collection bins that are emptied periodically outside the buildings.

AU’s RMS and OS joined forces to provide battery recycling for the CVM. OS provides the receptacles for collection and RMS provides the management and pick up of recyclable batteries. Why wouldn’t we want batteries in our landfills? When batteries begin to degrade, the chemicals may leak into the ground which can lead to soil and water contamination. By recycling batteries, we are able to keep hazardous material from entering landfills as well as using the recycled materials to fabricate new products. Ultimately, we are conserving precious energy resources and the need to collect new, raw materials.

Our scientific supply vendor, VWR™, recently began “From the Lab Bench to the Park Bench,” a pipet tip box recycling program. This program offers a convenient opportunity to recycle an abundant source of waste found in every laboratory. With this program, we are diverting hard-to-recycle plastic (typically #5) from the waste stream. This easy-to-use recycling program provides boxes for waste collection, shipment, and recycling for used pipet tip boxes. All brands of plastic pipet tip boxes are accepted. The plastic waste is ground, melted, and pelletized through extrusion by TerraCycle™ to create recycled resin. The resin is then combined with other recycled plastics to make park benches and other eco-friendly products.

This concerted effort between departments and vendors at AU is phenomenal! It couldn’t happen without essential personnel combining knowledge, enthusiasm, and collegiality for a common purpose. Reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills conserves our natural resources, prevents pollution, and ultimately saves energy.

TeamRecycled Materials (Jan - Jun 2019) (Pounds)
Waste Reduction & Recycling Department (all of AU)670,976
Risk Management & Safety (CVM only)100
VWR/Terracycle (CVM only)455

The following team members made this happen:

  • Joan Hicken, AU Waste Reduction & Recycling Department
  • Michael Freeman, AU Risk Management and Safety
  • Cassandra Kitchens, AU Department of Pathobiology. CVM
  • Hollie Lee, AU Department of Clinical Sciences
  • Julie Woods, VWR Sales Representative for AU

Contributed by Hollie Lee, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

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