"Recycling" is a word often used to encompass a wide range of
activities. Recycling is one component of activities that make up
"solid waste management," planning for and management of the materials
and volumes that make up the solid waste stream. These various
activities can be summarized as the 5 R’s: recycle, reduce, reuse,
rebuy, and rethink (1):
RECYCLE - Recycling returns materials that would otherwise become waste into resources. Materials that are presently recycled include:
- Aluminum cans – Staff Senate sponsors the Office/Service
Dependent's Scholarship, and the Recyclers Ecology Endowed
Scholarships. One fund source for these scholarships is recycling of
aluminum cans. Blue barrels and special cardboard boxes are set in
buildings around campus. Facilities gathers these cans on an irregular
basis, and delivers them to a local recycling center.
- Cardboard makes up the largest volume of material recycled by
UNK. Containers have been set at Communications Center, BHS, and
Nebraskan as these sites generate significant volumes of cardboard each
week. These are emptied weekly by the City of Kearney recycling staff
- Facilities staff also captures and recycles a significant amount of
cardboard during the August residence hall move-in period. This
material is first corralled near the residence halls in temporary
fencing, and then moved to one of the campus cardboard containers noted
- Non-ferrous metal
- Changes in piping systems often result in waste copper piping
parts. These materials are kept until volumes warrant their being
delivered to a local recycling center.
- Toner and ink jet cartridges for computer printers can be
recycled. Facilities staff collects these empty items from each
building, at designated locations (typically near building mail drops),
packages them and ships them to various recycling centers.
- Automotive batteries and used motor oil can be recycled. Facilities
staff also stores these for shipment to various recycling centers.
- Shredded paper accounts for the second-largest volume of UNK’s
recycled material. Facilities staff removes approximately a van-load of
shredded paper weekly from Founders Hall, and bi-weekly from MSAB. This
material is delivered to City of Kearney recycling center.
- Other materials -- see below concerning planning for recycling of other materials, including paper and plastic.
- Mercury containing lamps
- Scrap metal
- Old computers and other electronics
- Nicad Batteries
REDUCE - Source Reduction is any change in materials or
products (including packaging) to reduce their amount or toxicity
before they become municipal solid waste. Source reduction actually
prevents the generation of waste in the first place, and is the most
preferable method of waste management.
- Electronic distribution of Flash Points is an example of
reducing paper use. Leaving grass clippings on site is an example of
reducing landscaping waste (and reducing labor!);
- Universal Waste
- Part of the waste stream is knows as "universal waste." This
type of waste is not immediately hazardous, but if handled poorly over
time will add to contamination of soil and water.
- Some components of this waste stream include older style (silver
end) fluorescent lamps, dry cell batteries, and failed rechargeable
batteries. These materials are processed in a similar manner to toner
cartridges, that is, Facilities staff collects these empty items from
designated locations, and packages them for recycling.
REUSE – Purchasing materials at a garage sale or auction are
examples of reusing materials. When possible, reusing is preferable to
recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it
can be used again, and reduces material sent to the landfill. In
addition, by eliminating material processing we conserve natural
- Internal reuse
- Many campus materials (furniture, paper, fax machines, toner
cartridges) are reused internally by informal sharing of information,
such as emails, that alert other departments about surplus furniture or
- IT is working with surplus computing equipment to provide an
orderly distribution of hand-me-down computers, with the goal of
upgrading departmental equipment. IT has worked with manufacturers to
take back older equipment for reprocessing, to reduce electronic
materials sent to landfill;
- Facilities works with surplus chemical supplies providing for their
orderly redistribution, with the goal of reducing departmental costs,
and reducing disposal of materials;
- External reuse
- When departments designate equipment as surplus, information is
shared with a wide group of agencies, including local school districts.
- Where there is no apparent internal interest in surplus
equipment, it is made available for auction. The most recent example of
this effort was the 3/2006 surplus auction, which included Case and
- When material is not sold at auction, it is taken to the landfill.
However, no material from the 3/2006 auction was taken to the landfill;
- Trailers have been purchased to store surplus materials, including
electronics and universal waste. This helps in keeping campus spaces,
especially tornado shelters, cleared for their intended use.
- Cast-off materials -- Facilities and Residence and Greek Life are
working this spring with Goodwill and Salvation Army to gather cast-off
materials during spring move-out. The largest volume of material is
expected to be furniture, but could include clothing and non-perishable
food. The intention of this effort is to assist local charities with
collections, and reduce materials sent to the landfill.
- Shopping at State Surplus Property is another way to practice
reusing office supplies. Contact the State Surplus office for more
REBUY - Buying recycled content products and materials help
to ‘Close the Loop", creating a demand for materials recovered from
recycling efforts. By buying recycled you help to divert reusable
materials away from landfill, reducing waste disposal costs and
RETHINK - Think Again! Next time you go to throw something in
your garbage can take a minute and think about other possibilities. Can
it be reused either by you or someone else? Can it be recycled?
- Ludden and Case demolition resulted in 13,000 tons of debris,
of which only about 150 was sent to the landfill. The remaining
materials were recycled in various forms: Ferrous and non-ferrous
metals were recycled; concrete was ground into materials suitable for
road beds; bricks were ground into material suitable for fill in
- Residence and Greek Life, Nebraskan, and Facilities are working to
develop processes that will increase the collected volumes of
recyclable materials, especially plastic bottles and white paper. In
addition to these efforts, individuals currently conduct multiple
recycling projects throughout campus.
It is not Facilities intention to provide separation services for
the campus. It is Facilities goal to put in place processes that make
it simple for the campus to minimize the volumes, and long term
hazards, of our solid waste stream.