About 30 percent of what goes into our landfills is packaging waste, and as a research university, we’re contributing our share, points out a post on the campus sustainability office website. A good deal of research requires delicate equipment that arrives well-cushioned in protective wrappings—in particular, expanded polystyrene (a.k.a. Styrofoam). Physical Plant established a Styrofoam recycling program in April 2013, in which building managers were asked to package the packaging waste, put it on loading docks and call to request pickup. But after two months, only two calls came in.
The Genetics Department, thanks to building manager Glen Laak, led the charge by establishing a continuous pick-up program with WE CONSERVE. Through the improved program, WE CONSERVE gathers roughly 50 boxes each week, and intends to expand to Medical Sciences Center soon. Despite significant improvement, much work remains as thousands of Styrofoam boxes arrive to campus daily.
If you find yourself trashing Styrofoam on a regular basis and have been waiting for a better way, the answer has arrived. Contact WE CONSERVE’s Recycling Coordinator, Frank Kooistra, to set up a pick-up, and encourage your peers to participate as well. In addition to being a waste eliminator, you may inadvertently support a student project or two.