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Through new programs and a greater awareness of the need to think about what gets thrown away, UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center are making progress towards the shared goal of significantly reducing the waste stream leaving the University Campus.
For the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2011 the campus recycled 822.45 tons of material, an increase of 18 percent over the fiscal 2010 recycling volume of 696.62 tons. Furthermore, the total waste stream leaving the campus dropped slightly to 3,432.8 tons in fiscal 2011 compared to 3,443.3 tons in the previous fiscal year.
The annual recycling rate for the campus hit 25.7 percent for fiscal 2011, up from the previous year’s 23 percent. “We’re moving in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to do,” said Bill Tsaknopolous, director of auxiliary services at UMMS and a member of the school’s Sustainability Committee. “We continue to look for new ways to operate and new programs to increase recycling, but we need the community’s help to make progress.”
To align with the goals of the Massachusetts Leading by Example program, and the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, UMass Medical School is aiming to increase its recycling rate to 50 percent, so that half of what leaves the campus as waste is no longer destined for a landfill or incinerator.
Among the programs having an impact on recycling this past year is the school’s partnership with Northeast Material Handling from Lowell for recycling large items. The company removes unwanted furniture, fixtures and appliances, including refrigerators and freezers, and recycles or reuses the material rather than trashing it. Other new initiatives include expanded recycling in clinical areas, including the food services, and new recycling opportunities for batteries and printer toner cartridges.
During the Earth Day celebration in April, the Sustainability Committee organized an electronics recycling program, so members of the campus community could recycle old computers, microwave ovens, printers, fax machines and other unwanted electronic gear that may have been piling up at home. The event collected, and recycled, more than 9,000 pounds of material.
“We’ll be running similar events soon, and looking to place additional recycling bins and signage throughout the campus to further encourage recycling, “said Melissa Lucas, sustainability and energy manager at UMMS. “This is one of our greatest challenges, so we need everyone to work together to help us meet our goals.”