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Recycling Rates up Since 2013

In April of 2013 when E.L. Harvey first took over waste and recycling management services for UMass Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care, many areas did not have a formalized recycling program and the overall recycling rate for the institutions was 24 percent, by weight.

Five years later, every major educational, research and clinical area across more than 60 locations in Central Massachusetts has a recycling program and the overall recycling rate for the school and the clinical system has climbed to 34 percent.

“We have made a lot of progress, but we still have more work to do,” said Suzanne Wood, sustainability and energy manager at UMass Chan, who along with Bill Tsaknopoulos, director of auxiliary services, oversees the recycling program for the Medical School.

Wood attributes the increase in recycling to better processes implemented by E.L. Harvey, better integration with campus housekeeping operations, and the growing awareness in the community of the importance of recycling. “Moving to a single stream model was a big help,” Wood said.

Single stream recycling means that all acceptable items, from paper to bottles or cans, can be placed in the same recycling bin. It’s designed to increase compliance by making it easier for busy consumers to recycle.

From April 2013 through March 2018 a total of 9,339 tons of material was recycled from all active locations at the school and clinical system. Of that total, 3,504 tons was single stream recycling, including cans, bottles, plastics and non-HIPAA paper. The balance was construction debris, large appliances and other items.

Since implementation of the single stream model, that category of recyclables has increased over 40 percent on an annual basis, from 488 tons in the first year of the contract to over 800 tons in 2017. In March of 2018 E.L. Harvey was awarded a new three-year contract to service the combined university and clinical system locations.

“Over the next three years, we hope to grow our recycling even more, and we’ll need everyone’s help to do that,” Wood said.

In the past two years, both the medical school and the clinical system have won awards for recycling efforts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Wise program. Read more about those awards here:

Single Stream Process

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Take a look inside the plant that processes recyclables from UMass Chan