Did you know that you can actually recycle broken plastic recycling bins and garbage cans? Last June, the Monroe County Recycling Center expanded to accept all plastic numbers 1 through 7, which opened the doors to recycle a whole host of things here in Rochester, including yogurt containers, blister packaging, plastic utensils, and yes, even plastic laundry baskets and collection bins. The expansion also made it possible for aluminum foil and old pots and pans to be recycled.
But all of that is a story for another day because, being gurus of the three R’s, we know that recycling should be the option only after we’ve exhausted opportunities for reuse. Following that principal, the University’s recycling office recently was able to donate some unwanted trash cans to the Rochester City School District. You ask, what is the story behind this one? Well, it was the result of a Waste Reduction Audit that we conducted in one UR’s largest and busiest campus building, Rush Rhees Library. We have already done a lot of work to increase the number of recycling bins available on campus. But, the purpose of this audit was to go a step further and reduce the number of standalone trash containers, by either paring them up with recycling containers or removing them altogether.
The theory behind this is to offer users of the building the equal opportunity to either recycle or throw things in the trash. Picture the average student who is in a rush to take that next exam. In preparation, the student has just finished guzzling a can of Red Bull and on their way out there is a lone trash can in their path. There is also a recycling bin all the way on the other side of the room, but you know as well as I do that the student is much more likely to go with the more convenient option of throwing their soda bottle in the trash . We wanted to take that temptation away and make recycling even easier. As a result several large, unsightly trash containers were replaced with our recycling “trios”, as you see pictured to the right. If a trio is now in the path of the very same student, hopefully he or she will opt to recycle this time.
But we did not want to create waste as a result of a project designed to reduce waste. So, we quickly sought out a home for our no longer needed trash cans. Luckily, we did not have to look far when the Rochester City School District gladly offered to take those off of our hands to meet their needs. We all know how budgeting for our schools can be a tight issue and every little bit helps. Thanks to the help of Timothy Lockwood, Facilities Utilization Assistant, and Joseph Griffin, Supervisor of Plant Operations, we did not need to trash our cans. Between 20-30 cans weighing in at a total of over 600 lbs, was diverted from being sent to the landfill. Thank you Rochester City School District!