Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Recycling

We recycle. Dining services was an early adopter of recycling bottles, cans, paper, plastic and cardboard in the dining halls and retail operations on campus beginning in 1991 and to this day. That’s twenty-six years of diverting waste from the land fill to recycling, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gases. We estimate we have diverted 1,000,000 pounds of bottles, cans; paper, plastic and cardboard from landfill through Dining Services efforts over the years.
 
Since recycling began, we have seen a change in how food for the dining halls is packaged. Lightweight plastics containers have replaced an increasing amount of glass containers and steel. This shift has had a profound impact on GHGE by reducing the impacts of transportation. Reducing the weight of the packaging allows more of what is in the container to be transported. That means fewer truck-trips are required to bring more food to campus.
 
Plastic is also “easier” to recycle than glass or steel, requiring less energy to be used to transform the old plastic into a different plastic product. Around 4 per cent of world oil and gas production, a non-renewable resource, is used as feedstock for plastics and a further 3–4% is expended to provide energy for their manufacture. Using recycled plastic to make a plastic bottle that would otherwise have been made from new (virgin) polymer directly reduces oil usage and emissions of greenhouse gases associated with the production of the virgin polymer even when emissions from collection and transportation are taken into account. 
 
All the packages your food come in also come in a cardboard box. The terms used in the recycling industry for cardboard are “boxboard” and “Old Corrugated Cardboard (OCC)”. OCC is a wavy layer of paper between to flat layers (Image). Boxboard is the single layer cardboard common to cereal boxes. OCC is a high value-recycling commodity, currently selling at an average of $95/ton. OCC collected on-campus, compressed into bales weighing about 1000 pounds apiece, trucked to a recycling plant, and made into new corrugated boxes and boxboard. There is such a recycling plant located in Solvay, NY near Syracuse that makes all kinds of cardboard boxes.
 
Recycling is the simplest action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Reduce, reuse and then recycle it’s as simple as that, Do it.
 
Keep calm and recycle on.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Reuse

It is Week 2 of Recyclemania and we are proud to announce that last week with SWIFT (Stop Wasting Ithaca's Food Today), we recovered 237 pounds of food for donation. We also recovered 125 gallons of used cooking oil for processing into bio-fuel. However, as we emphasize waste reduction and recycling, we should also think about the power of reuse.

Reuse refers to any activity that lengthens the life of an item. It can be accomplished through purchasing durable goods and keeping valuable materials out of the waste stream. Unlike recycling, reuse does not require reprocessing of an old item into a new product. Therefore, it greatly reduces the amount of energy consumed by manufacturing and transport. 
“It’s pretty amazing that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, ship it to a refinery, turn it into plastic, shape it appropriately, truck it to a store, buy it, and bring it home is considered to be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you are done with it.”

According to the Earth Policy Institute, each year, 29 billion plastic water bottles are produced for use in the United States. Manufacturing them requires the equivalent of 17 million barrels of crude oil. Many would say that plastic bottles are recyclable, but water bottles in the recycling bin have a long journey ahead of them. First, they are inspected in a collection facility for contaminants. Then, they are washed and chopped into flakes. The flakes are dried and melted into plastic lava, which is filtered and finally shaped into new products. Sure, recycling a plastic water bottle is convenient for you at the College but, the carbon footprint is much less for a reusable water bottle.

 IC dining recognizes and rewards the power of reuse. A study by Starbucks in 2000 calculated that the average paper-based coffee cup produced 0.24 lb of CO2.  Disposable cups not only contribute directly to the creation of a greenhouse gas but also a lot of waste. One cup per day results in 23 lb of waste by the end of the year, just from the cups that are thrown away. They cannot be recycled because of the plastic coating on the inside of the paper.

By bringing your own reusable cup to any of our locations, you save 15 cents on a hot beverage and reduce your carbon footprint. That is a free cup of coffee after 10 purchases with a reusable mug. Keep calm and carry a cup!!

 


 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Our Carbon Footprint

Recyclemania, starts this week and this is a good time to think about our carbon footprint because waste reduction and recycling are very powerful, and easy, tools we can use to reduce CO2 emissions. Dining Services will be collaborating with the Office of Energy Management and Sustainability by reporting the amount of food-scrap recycled as compost or recovered for donation to the food insecure in our community. We also report the amount of cooking oils that a local company reclaims and converts to biodiesel.

The term carbon footprint refers to the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to support human activities enabled by the burning of fossil fuels, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Our daily habits like showering, driving, or grabbing a coffee all leave a carbon foot print because all of these activities consume some sort of fossil fuel and release CO2 into the atmosphere.

If we are mindful of our individual carbon footprint, we can use simple changes in our habits to reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change. When you choose a reusable water bottle instead of buying a water in a plastic bottle, you reduce your carbon footprint. Recycling that water bottle you bought reduces your footprint, too. Do you remember learning the “Three R’s”: reduce, reuse, recycle?  That little mantra was introduced to help us be mindful of our waste footprint and is useful for making choices to reduce CO2. 

Dining Services continues its nearly thirty-year partnership with the College in putting the Three Rs into practice in daily operations. Everyone in Dining collects and recycles bottles, cans, plastic containers and cardboard as part of the daily routine; it is a habit. We continue the recycling of food-scraps through composting that began in 1993, diverting an average of 260 tons per year.

We have all heard that we throw away something like 30% of the food produced, and that food production has a substantial carbon footprint. One way of reducing food waste in dining halls is by not using trays; we stopped using them in 2011. We wasted an average of 1/3 of a pound of food per meal when we had trays, now that waste is ¼ of a pound per meal.  This change also helps us to be more mindful of how much we eat, and that helps keep off the unwanted weight.

Then there is Meatless Monday, another significant way to reduce our carbon footprint because of all the foods we produce and eat, meat has the biggest carbon footprint. Everyone in the country eating one-quarter pound less beef per week for a year has the same impact as taking 10 million cars off the road.

If you want to learn what mindful habits you can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint, check out this website:  http://www.clackamas.us/sustainability/tips.html for great tips on how to get started!