Recycling Gets Easier and Tracked by Building

A new and easier way to recycle is going viral across UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care. Sometimes called "simple stream," the new program allows paper, cardboard, cans, bottles and other recyclable materials to go in the same recycling bin. 

This all-in-one-bin approach is coupled with a new data collection process that will eventually measure trash and recycling volumes for each building on campus and across the clinical system. 

"In the past, we didn’t have building-specific data," said Melissa Lucas, sustainability and energy manager at UMMS. "Increasing recycling and diverting more material from landfills or incinerators is among our top priorities. Over time, tracking and reporting building-specific data will help us improve."

The new recycling program is being implemented in partnership with E.L. Harvey & Sons Inc. of Westborough, the materials handler contracted this spring to serve both the medical school and the clinical system's 65 locations across Central Massachusetts. The goal of the new program is to double the volume of material recycled in a year. 

"We've already learned a lot through our materials audits in the first few months of this new program, and we are working hard to bring simple stream recycling to everyone in the system," said Nicole Moreau, resource manager at E.L. Harvey & Sons. 

For years, recycling here meant separating materials into different bins. Too often, because of a lack of proper receptacles nearby, or confusion about what materials should be recycled, people simply threw all refuse into the trash can. The new all-in-one-bin approach should alleviate any confusion and prompt more people to recycle, Lucas said. 

The all-in recycling program began over the summer in the medical school's newly opened Albert Sherman Center. It has now spread to most of the medical school's regional facilities, including the Shaw Building, the Lazare Research Building, Biotech 1 - 4, the campus power plant, Hoagland-Pincus Center and 333 South Street in Shrewsbury. 

On the clinical side, the new program is in place at the Barre Family Health Center and several administrative locations. Moreau is now working with facilities teams at Clinton Hospital, Health Alliance and Marlboro Hospital to develop and implement workable versions of the recycling program. "Once we understand what a successful program is for these hospitals, we will take that experience and move it to the larger facilities at Memorial, Hahnemann and University Campus," Moreau said. 

A full list of materials the can be recycled in the simple stream, all-in-one-bin program is available at http://www.umassmed.edu/growinggreen/recycling