About Recycling at the U
The University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus is one of the largest campuses in the United States. It encompasses 1,000 acres, and includes over 250 buildings. Because of the U's size, it's important to have a well integrated recycling program. We strive to design efficient routes and safely process materials with care. We take pride in servicing the University's recycling needs and exceeding expectations on the UMN campus.
The Recycling Program is housed within Facilities Management, the department that manages all University physical facilities.
With a few exceptions, it is the responsibility of the custodial staff to transport materials from various containers throughout the buildings to a central storage location, usually located on or adjacent to the loading dock for the building.
Storage areas are serviced by recycling personnel as part of two recycling routes. The large route services between 30 and 35 locations daily, while the small route services 12-15 locations per day. Almost all buildings on campus are serviced at least one day a week, although many have multiple pickups weekly or daily. All materials are brought to the Como Recycling Facility, located between the two campuses.
Recycling in University Residence Halls
Housing and Residential Life purchased their own recycling containers for use in all campus residence halls. The containers are centrally located within each building. Housing and Residential Life handles the promotion of the program within each residence hall. Residence halls are serviced by the University Recycling Program as part of the normal recycling routes.
Processing (major materials -- paper, glass, cans and bottles)
At the recycling facility, hampers of paper are emptied by a mechanical dumper onto a 25-foot conveyor belt where the paper is sorted to remove contaminants. Contaminants, if paper, are sorted by category into gaylord boxes. At the end of the conveyor, the paper falls into the hopper of a horizontal baler. Bales are stored in the building and eventually loaded onto 53 foot trailers and shipped directly to paper mills.
Comingled cans and bottles are sorted on separate equipment. Bags of cans and bottles are emptied into a hopper which loads the materials onto a conveyor. One person sorts glass and plastic bottles from the conveyor. Glass bottles are placed into self-dumping hoppers by colors which are eventually emptied into roll-off boxes for shipping. Plastic bottles are sorted, sent up the vertical conveyor, and baled in a horizontal baler. At the conveyor, aluminum foil and plastic are also removed for recycling, along with trash and other unwanted items. At the end of the conveyor, the remaining cans travel through a magnetic separator which removes tin cans, storing them separately. The remaining materials (aluminum cans), are directed through a flattener and sent by a blower into a 30-cubic-yard roll-off box, then shipped for recycling. Tin cans that were removed by the magnetic separator, as well as a separate stream of bagged tin cans and foil received from University Food Services, are sorted in a similar manner, flattened, and directed to roll-offs for collection and shipping.
Cardboard is the only material that does not come to the Como Recycling Facility for processing. It is collected from campus buildings with a rear load packer truck, and is delivered directly to local recycling facilities near campus.
Currently, cardboard, including brown paper bags, is collected on a regular basis by one of four methods:
1) Buildings that are large generators of cardboard have dumpster's designated for cardboard disposal which are serviced regularly by the packer truck.
2) Custodians working in buildings that are small generators of cardboard are instructed to place flattened cardboard into recycling hampers (Meese Carts) in the recycling room near the loading dock. The cardboard is then picked up along with other recyclables on the regular recycling route.
3) Cardboard from the Health Sciences Complex is collected and stored in a stationary compactor which is serviced by the roll-off truck.
4) There are four additional locations on campus that use vertical balers to break down cardboard.
Processing (other grades of paper, metal)
In addition to large-scale collection of office and newspaper grades, the Como Recycling Facility collects other papers with the newspaper plus program; including magazines, hard and soft cover books, and phonebooks. Paper grades that are not baled are stored in gaylord boxes and shipped to various mills.
For more information on what materials are recyclable, please see the Recycling Guide.
Have you ever wondered why the U of M Recycling Program does not hand out promotional materials (e.g. flyers, trinkets, etc)? That's because we're keeping with our philosophy that waste reduction is more important than recycling. We already have too much loose paper given to us from event vendors and other promotions. Many of these handouts find their way directly into the trash without ever being used, as we have seen most of the time. If there is something you would like us to give you, let us know. We can probably get it to you through our reuse program and therefore continue with our philosophy.