During the first week of February, UofL will launch a single-stream recycling pilot project on Belknap Campus in Grawemeyer Hall, the College of Business, J.B. Speed Building and the Service Complex with the intent to take it university-wide in March.

Single-stream recycling means no more sorting of different types of recyclables or searching for the right bin. Under the new program, all standard recyclable materials can be placed into a single container, and a private firm will sort them at an off-site location. The new system will be able to handle all types of paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, steel and aluminum.

The university is taking a huge step forward in its commitment to sustainability with this program, said Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives. With the cooperation of everyone on campus, the new system will help us drastically reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill. That’s a vital component of our environmental stewardship. 

UofL put out a request for proposals last fall and selected QRS Recycling of New Albany to assist with the program.

During the pilot, individual trash cans in the pilot buildings will be relabeled for use as recycling containers. Employees and students will be able to place most of their waste into the containers, since very little of it is not recyclable under the new system. Styrofoam, food waste, candy and chip wrappers, tissues and bathroom trash are the primary exceptions and will need to be kept out of the single-stream recycling bins. (See a complete list of acceptable and unacceptable materials.)

Each office will receive a small, green mini-bin (made of recycled plastic) for the collection of non-recyclable materials. Once the small containers are full, employees can dump them into the nearest restroom trash receptacle or into designated receptacles elsewhere in the buildings.

People will be surprised at how little non-recyclable waste they generate under the new system, said Aaron Boggs, superintendent of grounds and head of the recycling program.

UofL and QRS already have installed about 60 light-green, well-marked recycling containers around all three UofL campuses to collect recyclables from the single-stream system.

The pilot program is the next step in the university’s ongoing sustainability efforts, said Larry Owsley, vice president for business affairs, noting that although the program is not designed to save money, the university could see some savings over time.

We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do, Owsley said. Our students want this. Our faculty and staff want this. And as a university, we strive to show leadership in protecting the environment.

UofL’s Physical Plant department already is working with Sodexo, which provides UofL’s dining services, and with the traditional residence halls to implement recycling programs in those facilities. University of Louisville Properties, which manages Community Park , Bettie Johnson Hall, Kurz Hall  and Billy Minardi Hall, and The Province  housing facilities also are eligible to participate under the same terms.

Physical Plant has spearheaded UofL’s recycling efforts since 1991, implementing programs to deal with waste ranging from cardboard to construction debris. In 2008, UofL diverted 44 percent of its waste from landfills. From 2003 to 2008 the university recycled 4.9 million pounds of cardboard and office paper.

The pilot project will run through February, with a campus-wide roll-out of the new system expected to begin March 1. Physical Plant will provide more office mini-bins, and UofL and QRS will provide more information and training at that time.