Recycling on rise, decreasing waste

Kate Russell/The News Recycled materials sit in bales at the University Recycling Center.
Kate Russell/The News Recycled materials sit in bales at the University Recycling Center.

Kate Russell/The News
Recycled materials sit in bales at the University Recycling Center.

Murray State recycles approximately 291 tons of paper, plastic, cardboard and other materials every year.

This amounts to 5,814,000 pounds of material being reused to make goods and is kept out of local landfills.

Wayne Harper, director of Grounds and Building Services, said the University recycles paper, aluminum, cardboard, plastic, glass, motor oil and batteries. From 1991 when Murray State started recycling paper and aluminum cans until last year, the University recycled 25,396,000 pounds of waste.

“We want to continue to increase the amount of material we are recycling,” Harper said. “We have new sorting material coming that will help us achieve that goal.”

He said the Recycling Center has also seen a large amount of books from the library being recycled – almost 200,000 pounds worth.

Harper said one of the next to-do items on the list for the recycling program is to combine the red and blue bins used to recycle paper. He said the recycling company now accepts mixed paper, so there is no need to spend time separating the two.

“Every ton we keep out of the landfill saves us about $50,” Harper said. “We have to pay a fee for landfill dumps, so it saves us money and we get money back when we sell the material.”

He said the funds generated through the recycling program help other sustainability and environmental efforts on campus.

Harper is also the chair of the president’s commission on sustainability, and said he thinks Murray State is doing a great job improving sustainability across campus.

The University’s recycling program has saved more than $200,000 in tipping fees in the past decade and was recognized in 2000 as a Who’s Who in Recycling Award by the state secretary for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.

Along with paper and plastic, cardboard is recycled at the Recycling Center, where it is dumped into a bin, travels up a conveyor belt and is bailed into 1,700-pound squares bound with rope.

While the recycling program consists of education, promotion, cooperation and recognition, some of the departments on campus are more heavily involved with the recycling program–the Building Services Division, Grounds Division, Transportation Services, Facilities Finance and Administration and the Office of Environmental Safety and Health.

Along with the recycling program, Harper said the city has been supportive of the movement for a greener community.

The Murray Make-A-Difference Days began in 1996 and encourage community members to come to Roy Stewart Stadium to recycle paper, used motor oil, used eye glasses, aluminum, glass, plastics and food staples.

“The program benefits the surrounding community by hosting community recycling days,” Harper said. “We have worked with the city and the county to form the Community Recycling Coalition.”

More than 11 million pounds of material have been recycled in the past decade at Murray State, and Harper said what the community contributes in recyclables only makes the number increase. Harper said the Murray Environmental Student Society has also helped promote the idea of recycling to students.

“When I first started with this program in the late 80s, early 90s, some students did not think it was a very good idea,” Harper said. “People thought it wasn’t worth the money we were putting in to it.”

Harper said since the late 80s, students have become more on board with recycling.

He said bins are in all of the residential colleges and in every building across campus.

Said Harper: “Across campus and across the world, recycling has become more common, which is great.”


Story by Meghann Anderson, News Editor