September 28, 2013

VU achieves 60 percent increase in recycling

The amount of materials recycled at Vanderbilt rose from 3 million pounds to 5 million pounds last year—that’s a 60 percent increase.

The numbers are in. The amount of materials recycled at Vanderbilt rose from 3 million pounds to 5 million pounds last year—that’s a 60 percent increase.

From 2011 to 2012, Vanderbilt recycled enough cardboard, plastic, scrap metal, aluminum and glass to make a major impact on the campus and surrounding Nashville communities, conserving the equivalent of the following important natural resources:

  • 45,000 mature trees (almost eight times the number of trees and shrubbery on the Vanderbilt campus);
  • 16 million gallons of water (enough water to  meet the average water requirement of Vanderbilt’s students, faculty and staff for five days);
  • 8,500 cubic yards of landfill space (more than three times the volume of the Vanderbilt Student Recreation Center pool); and
  • 530 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) greenhouse gases avoided (the pollution from approximately 1,000 car rides to and from Tampa, Fla).

Several improvements implemented this past year helped Vanderbilt achieve this level of recycling included. They are:

  • Expansion of recycling to plastics #3-7 instead of just #1-2, which includes such items as hard plastic labware, food storage containers and clamshell food containers;
  • Expansion of solid waste recycling at VUMC into Vanderbilt Medical Group areas in the Vanderbilt Clinic and Medical Center East;
  • Expansion of scrap metal recycling on main campus;
  • Expansion of cardboard recycling infrastructure on main campus and the installation of new cardboard dumpsters at Branscomb, Carmichael Towers and the Chestnut facility as well as a cardboard compactor at Rand/Sarratt;
  • Expansion of recycling efforts at Student Move-In through improved collaboration with Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR) to successfully recycle 33 tons of cardboard, an 83 percent increase in cardboard recycling from the prior year; and
  • Improved collaboration with SPEAR, Vanderbilt Athletics, and Waste Management, Inc., at home football games to collect plastic, aluminum cans and cardboard from fans during tailgating and implementation of the new Vanderbilt Athletics Sustainability Challenge.

Cardboard Ban update

The expansion of the cardboard recycling program is especially important moving forward because Metro Nashville established a ban on cardboard in trash as of July, 2013.

Please help us recycle cardboard and keep it out of the trash by flattening and placing cardboard at pre-established cardboard collection points in each campus building, behind recycling containers in your area, or directly into cardboard dumpsters or compactors located throughout campus at the Commons Center, Rand Dining Hall, Branscomb, McGugin, Carmichael Towers, and the Chestnut facility. A cardboard recycling flyer that you can post in your area of campus is available here.

For more information about Vanderbilt’s recycling program, visit SustainVU’s recycling page or contact or 615-34E-ARTH (3-2784).