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Miami aims toward zero waste: Introduces single-stream recycling pilot program

02/18/2013

Part three of a series about sustainability pilot programs this month focusing on recycling and composting
Written by Susan Meikle with contributions from Yvette Kline and David Prytherch

A pilot program at Cole Services Building is testing single stream recycling, co-located trash and recycling bins and composting bins
A pilot program at Cole Services Building is testing single stream recycling, co-located trash and recycling bins and composting bins
When the new academic year begins in August, the entire Oxford campus will start using co-located single-stream recycling and landfill trash bins. In preparation for the campuswide implementation, a single-stream recycling pilot project is being conducted this month.

The pilot is one of several on campus testing the Solid Waste Lean Team’s recommendations to help divert more of Miami’s solid waste from the landfill, without increasing costs.

Single-stream recycling: Blue "all-in-one" single-stream bins make recycling user-friendly

Research shows that using one combined bin makes it easier for people to recycle, according to David Prytherch, sustainability coordinator and co-chair of the Miami University sustainability committee.

A new “single-stream” strategy – where all recyclables (bottles, cans and paper) will go in a single, blue bin – are being tested this month in Scott residence hall, Cole Service Building, King Library's first floor and King Café.

Liner-less, plastic handbaskets, such as this one, can take the place of office trashcans once trash and recycling bins are co-located in centralized areas
Liner-less, plastic handbaskets, such as this one, can take the place of office trashcans once trash and recycling bins are co-located in centralized areas
“Consolidating bins will improve recycling and make way for future composting bins, which are being tested in a pilot program this month at King Café,” said Yvette Kline, director of sustainability and energy conservation.

Recycling should never be less convenient than throwing trash away

Because recycling should be at least as convenient as landfilling waste, said Prytherch, trash and recycling bins will be co-located in visible and centralized locations like hallways.

This strategy has already improved recycling and reduced waste and custodial costs in Shideler Hall, Alumni Hall and Cole, according to Prytherch.

To further enhance the program’s effectiveness, employees at Cole and King have swapped their office trash cans for liner-less plastic baskets, which they walk to the centralized bins to empty.

Co-located single-stream recycling and landfill trash bins to be standard on campus in August

In preparation for the campuswide implementation of the new program, “the pilot projects are helping us fine-tune the distribution, placement and, in some cases, the sizes of the bins,” Kline said.

“They are also letting us test the effectiveness of using signage instead of bin stickers and lids. Eliminating lids, each with a $25 to $30 list price, was an easy Lean-inspired decision: In addition to cost, the lids are one more item to remove, replace and clean, and they don't necessarily reduce recycling defects.

Kline explained, “One of the concerns with single-stream recycling is that liquids will wet the paper products, inhibiting the ability to recycle them. Consequently, we are emphasizing that bottles and cans should be empty - and caps should be put back on plastic bottles - before recycling them.”

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