The amount of recyclable material diverted from Illinois State’s trash stream has increased over the past decade, thanks to a proactive University Recycling program.
The volume of recyclable materials recovered on campus has also increased with the conversion to a single-stream recycling system.
Professor Tom Bierma’s environmental health students conducted a campus waste audit that shows recyclables are still winding up in the trash, but in a much lower volume than in past years.
“The audit results show that we as an institution are continuing to improve in our recycling habits,” said Bierma, who has conducted systematic waste audits on campus since 2002.
Results from that first year showed that recyclable materials accounted for slightly more than 40 percent of the waste audit sample. Aluminum, bi-metal cans, glass, plastic, paper, and corrugated cardboard were all found in the trash in the 2002 audit. This year, bi-metal cans, glass, and corrugated cardboard made up less than one percent of the trash sample.
Illinois State Recycling Coordinator Andrew Bennett said the improvement is due in part to single-stream recycling, which allows all recyclable materials to go into one bin without being sorted.
Bennett is still concerned about the amount of paper found in the garbage. Efforts are being made to increase the recycling bins in areas where large amounts of paper are used for printing. Increased information about recycling opportunities and practices is a priority.