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UC’s Recycling Efforts Growing Tons at a Time


Last year marks the fifth in a row that “basic recycling” has increased at the University of Cincinnati. The university is also producing far less fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion.

Date: 4/18/2013 12:50:00 PM
By: Tom Robinette
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   There’s less to be recycled at the University of Cincinnati, and that’s a good thing.

It’s good because UC has been burning less coal for energy and thereby producing less fly ash, a powdery byproduct of coal combustion that can be recycled for use in cement, concrete and asphalt applications.

More good news: Take fly ash out of consideration, and UC’s recycling numbers grew by more than 568 tons from 2011 to 2012. In fact, statistics from Facilities Management’s 2012 Trash Audit mark the fifth consecutive year “basic recycling” – paper, cardboard, aluminum, metal, plastic, glass and books – has increased.
University of Cincinnati student Vishnu Suresh places recyclables from two floors in Calhoun Hall into a bin.



Rick Wiggins, associate vice president and director of Facilities Management, gives a lot of credit to UC’s All Recycling Program for helping the university’s recycling efforts continue to climb like a seedling stretching skyward. The All Recycling Program began in fall of 2010 as a means to allow a greater opportunity for students, faculty, staff and visitors to take part in recycling a broader range of materials. Facilities Management has a list of recycling-approved items – yes, even pizza boxes – available for download on its website.

“The All Recycling Program has been a great success,” Wiggins says. “We will be adding food composting and will renew our recycling efforts through the Sustainability Committee to try and boost numbers for 2013.”

2012 RECYCLING HIGHLIGHTS

Here are 10 interesting numbers from Facilities Management’s 2012 Trash Audit representing tonnage of specific items recycled:

Books: 19.67
Cardboard: 65.52
Commingled recyclables from containers: 653.5
Computer monitors: 16.17
Concrete: 243
Electronic scrap: 100.59
Fluorescent lamps: 18.91
Office equipment (includes copiers, printers, scanners): 59.35
Plastics: 20.75
Yard waste: 288

MORE ABOUT FLY ASH

UC began recycling fly ash in 1999, and annual recycled fly ash totals have ranged from nearly 2,300 tons to more than 4,500 tons since then. UC’s coal use began to change in 2010, when the university started working on converting its boiler to an alternative-energy unit. As a result, there was an immediate impact in UC’s fly ash recycling. In 2011, UC recycled 1,435.85 tons of fly ash – last year, the number plummeted to 153.13 tons.

Even though fly ash is recyclable, the less produced, the better it is for the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that byproducts of burning coal for electricity are one of the largest waste streams generated in the United States, and the process generally causes more pollution per unit of electricity than any other fuel. The American Coal Ash Association's Coal Combustion Product Production & Use Survey Report shows that more than 136 million tons of coal combustion residuals were generated in 2008.

“We’re not polluting the air with burning all the coal that created the fly ash. We have less to recycle,” says Bob Bauer, assistant director of Facilities Management. “But if you look at some of the other numbers, our recycling effort in 2012 is still up.”

More UC news related to Earth Day:

- UC Gets a ‘Green’ Thumbs-Up from Princeton Review.

- What on Earth Day is going on around campus? Find out here.

- It looks like a bright, “green” future for UC.

- UC’s Utilities Services is working to kick coal with pellet power.