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Physical Plant Division, Facilities Maintenance & Operations Recycling Office
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Recycling effort needs paper work

by Rick Baker
UK Public Relations
October 20, 1997

When the Physical Plant Division took over the University of Kentucky's recycling program earlier this year, Tom Gregory, recycling coordinator, viewed the move as an opportunity to improve the program. "It's a good marriage," said Gregory. "Since PPD takes care of all the University's waste, it only seems natural that recycling would be a part of that." The recycling effort at UK started in the 1970s, but wasn't coordinated into a single program until 1995 when it was made part of Occupational Safety and Health. The program was moved to PPD in July. It is not a small effort, said Gregory. "UK serves more meals than any restaurant in Lexington," said Gregory. "Add that to the paper and other waste, and it mounts up."

In July, the University sent 310 tons of garbage to the transfer station, 287 tons of that in two garbage trucks. UK has a state-mandated goal of recycling 25 percent of all recyclables this year, Gregory explained.

The blue plastic trash cans with the recycling logo on the side play a big part in that effort, Gregory added. "The University recycled 19 tons of telephone books last year, and that's just a start on what we recycle," said Gregory. "We recycle all types of paper, including cardboard, as well as antifreeze, freon, paint and appliances. We recycled 7-1/2 tons of scrap metal in July. Paper makes up almost 60 percent of our waste, however, and that's what the recycling effort is geared toward."

Gregory determined earlier this year that he was recycling almost 29 percent of all paper from UK, exceeding the state goal.

Picture of Tom Gregory emptying a recycling bin
Photo By: Rick Baker

There is no penalty for not meeting the 25-percent goal, said Gregory, but his office is trying set an example.

The next item to be targeted is cardboard. "Cardboard makes up about one-third of all paper in our waste and that's a lot of weight," said Gregory. "That's why we're targeting cardboard." One example is the Medical Center, which used a roll-off dumpster to dispose of more than 1,000 pounds of cardboard in July.

The PPD Grounds Department also takes leaves and trimmings to a vendor which turns that into compost. "We've employed almost every technique known to man to reduce the amount of waste we dispose," said Gregory. The recycling program is paid for by a .2 percent surcharge on tangible purchases at the University. Gregory is the only full-time employee, while three contract employees make regular rounds to pick up waste paper. Gregory, who picks up aluminum cans at several recycling points across campus, points out many people will recycle aluminum cans, even though aluminum makes up only about one percent of the total waste. "Recycling paper is the biggest part of this job and everybody has to help," said Gregory. "If everybody does their part, meeting our recycling goals won't be a problem."

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