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.