June 13, 2007

Mini-bin Turns Trash into Recycling Treasure at SSU

mini-bin.jpgOne person's trash is another's treasure at Sonoma State University as the campus has increased its recyclable office waste by almost 100 tons by turning the handling of office garbage on its head.

The answer has come in the shape of a 5 1/2-inch tall black plastic mini-bin which is now the depository of garbage, such as food wastes, in campus offices. Recyclable material such as paper and plastic bottles are routed into large blue trash cans at personal desks. Final destination is the campus recycling center.

Made from recycled plastic itself, the writing on the mini-bin reads "This is all the GARBAGE I make!"

The program was adopted by Director of Housekeeping Mark Bradley who noticed one day as he looked into a trash bin at Salazar Hall that more than 84% of the trash in a single container was actually recyclable material such as paper and plastic bottles. It seemed to be the same story at other locations on campus.

"Often when we go into the offices we would find a garbage can full of paper and plastic bottles.. almost everything that was thrown away could have been sent to our single stream recycling center."

Bradley set up a pilot project in December, 2005 for one of the campus buildings after a successful experience moved to adopt the program throughout the entire campus.

He supplied every single office with a mini-bin and a larger deskside recycling can. Larger bins for garbage, such as food wastes, were put in strategic places throughout the building.

In one year the campus recycling material jumped from 161 tons in 2005 to 249 tons in 2006. "At first there were some people who hated it," said Bradley.

Bradley's next step is to develop recycling programs for classrooms and residential housing.

Sonoma State University is mandated by the California Integrated Waste Management Board to divert at least 50% of its solid waste from the landfills.

The University has been successful in achieving those numbers in the past, mainly because of the many construction projects that have generated large volumes of recyclable materials.

However, in order to continue to comply withthe state mandate, the University must improve efforts of recycling on campus, particularly since the diversion percentage will increase to 75% in the year 2010.

ABOVE, Barbara Danelia shows off the mini-bin introduced to campus offices that has contributed to the redirection of 100 more tons of office waste to the campus recycling center.

Jean Wasp
Media Relations Coordinator
University Affairs
(707) 664-2057