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August 5, 2002

Recycling center plays major role on campus

By Eric Rangus

Drop an empty aluminum can into one of the scores of blue bins outside of most campus buildings and where does it go?

Not into the ether, although those bins are almost magically emptied on at least a weekly basis.

Nope, that can, along with thousands that look just like it, eventually makes its way to Emory’s Recycling Center where it is stored, baled, then delivered to a vendor where it begins its journey to become a can again.

Key to this process, at least on campus, is the Recycling Center, a 6,000-square-foot complex at the end of Peavine Creek Road where literally tons of paper, glass, cardboard and other material is saved from the landfill to be utilized once again in new products.

In fiscal year 2001, the center processed around 600 tons of material. In FY02, that number is expected to increase by 20 percent.

“People are becoming more aware,” said John Scheve, director of the center since its opening in 1998. “Especially the students. Every year it’s great to see them come to campus and really get involved.”

The center processes a variety of material: paper products, newspaper, magazines, cardboard, glass, aluminum and even florescent light bulbs, toner cartridges and scrap metal. After collection, the material is separated (if colored paper is grouped with white paper it must be removed by hand—a very tedious process) and some—paper, cardboard and aluminum—is baled. Glass, separated by color, and plastic are placed in 40-yard bins that surround the center’s metal façade.

Vendors visit periodically to pick up the material, paying upwards of $100 per ton for it. Yes, recycling is an environmentally conscious activity, but it’s a business as well.

A new feature that will make the business side of Emory recycling run smoother, and it’s one Scheve is very excited about, is an accounting system that allows him to track the amount of each recyclable processed each month as well as the location where it was generated. Scheve said such a system will allow him to adjust routes to cover high-volume areas more frequently and—if the workload calls for it—may even result in the creation of a new position.

As it is, the center has just four full-time employees and a couple student workers who cover all of campus, Emory offices in Decatur, the Clairmont Campus, Grady, Crawford Long and even Oxford College. This fall, the center will add Briarcliff Campus to the mix.

Not only is Emory’s recycling program prominent on campus, but it has earned a national reputation as well. WasteWise, a project of the Environmental Protection Agency, named Emory as a Program Champion—one of just three universities so honored—for its achievements in waste prevention, recycling collection and use of recycled products. The award will be presented in October in Washington.