NYU Centralized Recycling Pilot Project This past academic year the NYU Stern Campus Greening Initiative joined forces with several other departments including Facilities Management to embark on a recycling pilot program within the Kaufman Management Center (Stern group of buildings). The main objective of the pilot was to increase the volume of recycled material within the buildings. The pilot enlisted a team of student volunteers, myself included, to help weigh, measure and record recycling data. The results compiled at the end of the pilot reflected a 178% overall increase in the average weight of recycled material. The success of the pilot has drawn attention from staff and has encouraged expansion of the project next fall. Further details of the pilot are described below. Current Program: Rates of recycling within the Kaufman Center are relatively low based on historical NYU recycling data as well as surveys from students, faculty, staff and the facilities team. Several factors were identified and attributed to the low return on recycling: More trash cans than recycling bins; mobility of recycling bins and frequent change of location; placement and convenience of regular trash receptacles; individual apathy towards recycling. Pilot Objectives: The project team identified tangible objectives of the pilot which could be benchmarked and measured. Environment – Increase the amount of recyclable material deposited into recycling bins versus trash receptacles Economic – Reduce resources such as time and money spent on trash and recycling collection Engagement – Continue to instill environmental engagement and initiative as a main objective within the Stern School of Business as well as raise individual awareness towards choices affecting the environment Potential Impact and Estimates: Internal Data – The team estimated the potential increase in recycling volume using historical NYU recycling data combined with data compiled from similar projects completed in other organizations. The team estimated a 61% potential increase in recycling volume for NYU (Figure A). The recycling center at NYU had conducted an earlier study which estimated 31% of material sent to the landfill is actually recyclable material. NYU’s waste hauler provided the team with the total weight (in tons) of material that was sent to the landfill and recycling facilities. Figure A Average % of material that NYU sends to the landfill that could be recycled Total weight recycled in 2008-2009 (including bulk) Total weight sent to landfill in 2008-2009 Weight sent to landfill in 2008-2009 that could have been recycled Potential increase in recycling volume for all of NYU
31% 1650.1 Tons 3252.26 Tons 1008.2 Tons 61%
The team recognizes that there are some material issues with their estimates. Recycling and landfill volume are calculated at the university level as opposed to school‐specific levels, i.e. Stern and the Kaufman Management Center. This required an extrapolation of figures for estimate purposes which may or may not be entirely accurate. External Data – The team researched similar projects that had been successful at other institutions. They found that Ohio State University removed all trash receptacles from classrooms and noticed a reduction in recyclables in the trash. Unfortunately, there is no hard data provided with this example. Pennsylvania State University conducted a similar three month pilot and results will be available in August. Finally, Google’s London office removed all trash bins from offices and desks and experienced a 50% increase in recycling rates1. Monetizing Savings – Figure A illustrates that 31% of recyclable material goes to the landfill as waste. If the pilot successfully transformed that figure to 0% and was implemented university‐wide, conservative estimates show annual savings between $46,000 and $86,000 (Figure B). Figure B Current % of recycled material going to landfill as waste: 31% trash pulls: 6 6 Current number of weekly Weekly number of trash pulls that could be reduced if 100% of 1.86 recyclables were diverted: $280,000 Annual cost of waste hauling: $280,000 Estimated cost savings from reducing weekly trash pulls from $46,667 6 to 5: Current % of recycled material going to landfill as waste: 31% $280,000 Annual cost of waste hauling: $280,000 Estimated cost savings from reducing waste going to landfills $86,800 by 31% Process: While planning the pilot, the team decided that 8 pairs of trash and recycling receptacles including 4 pairs of Peter Pepper Receptacles, along with 4 pairs of black round receptacles would be placed in communal areas around the third floor of the Kaufman Management Center. Throughout the month of March, student volunteers measured the weight of material discarded in the existing recycling bins for one month. Students weighed the recycling every day at 1:00pm and recorded the weights in a Google document. The Stern Facilities team emptied each recycling bin every day at 1:30pm. On April 1st a marketing message was distributed via email to students, staff and faculty regarding the pilot beginning that day. Stern Facilities removed all existing trash and recycling receptacles from the third floor and placed 8 pairs of recycling and trash receptacles in centralized locations around the third
floor. NYU Recycling installed labels on each receptacle to clearly indicate what could be deposited in each one. Examples of these labels are in Appendix B. For the next month, the same student volunteers measured the weight of the discarded materials in the recycling bins. The same aforementioned procedure for the weighing process was followed. Results: Environment – The pilot illustrated a significant increase in the amount of recyclable material deposited in recycling containers rather than trash receptacles. The average weight of recycled material per day from March to April went from 22.99 pound per day to 63.90 pounds per day, and increase of 178%. Engagement – No formal surveys have been conducted to gauge student responsiveness and awareness regarding recycling and trash, but a cursory indication showed that many students were surprised to learn how many different materials could be recycled at Stern. Maintenance – The pilot successfully reduced the amount of trash left on the floors and tables of classrooms. The facilities management staff on the third floor expressed a rough figure of 50% less trash left in these areas. Looking Forward: The NYU Stern Facilities team is very pleased with the results of this project. The team intends to incorporate similar changes to the second and first floor during the summer of 2010. The NYU Recycling team is also very pleased with the results of this project and is looking into ways to expand this program to the rest of the university.
Appendix A: Project Budget
Appendix B: Waste and Recycling
Appendix C: Recycling Weights
Published on Oct 3, 2010
Pilot project to decrease amount of waste that goes to trash and increase recycling flows. Done to save money, for the environment, and to i...