UA planning to cut waste in half while earning profit

By Shelly Rodgers

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Facing an edict to cut paper waste by 50 percent by the year 2000, the University of Arizona has come up with a plan that will do that, and make money as well.

The UA will shift its approach from recycling boxes, which were for white paper only, to a method that uses all colors and types, said UA recycling coordinator Richard Garb.

It will earn $6,500 a month for campus projects and will comply with the mandate issued by Republican Gov. Fife Symington.

The economy is ready to buy what the UA has to sell, Garb said.

"Mills are hungry for second-hand material," he said.

Garb said the state is requiring waste reduction for the UA and other institutions, because Pima County's landfill on Tangerine Road is almost full.

The 80-acre landfill opened in 1983 and was expected to last until 1992, but it expanded by another 11 acres and may now last until 2004, said director of the Tucson Solid Waste Department Eliseo Garza.

According to the mandate, recycling is a key alternative in cutting down on the massive amount of garbage disposed in the city's landfills.

In the past, recycling was seen as the right thing to do environmentally, but now, recycling is also a smart business move, Garb said.

UA recycles 20 tons of paper per month, saving 66 cubic yards of landfill space, he said. That is equivalent to the space needed to park about 20 Volkswagen Bugs. Selling this material will generate $6,500, Garb said.

The UA sells its recycled materials to such businesses as the Weyerhaeuser Co., which uses the recyclable material to produce its products, he said.

Environmental laws require some mills to use recycled materials, such as paper and cardboard instead of wood pulp, to generate their end products.

"This means less waste for landfills, and we save trees from being cut down," said Jason Miller, a political science junior and assistant to the UA recycling office.

It also means income for people who supply the mills with needed recyclables.

"It's a win, win, win situation," Garb said.

Since the governor's order, UA's recycling program has been looking for other ways to reduce paper waste on campus.

"Office Pack" may be one solution. Office Pack means that all paper, except newspapers and paper with neon colors, can be thrown into the same recycling bin.

"This is a new, convenient way of picking up paper," Garb said.

The old program recycled white paper only, with the colored paper sorted out, Miller said.

In the end, this means that office workers, as well as the recycling staff, spend less time and effort recycling, Garb said.

Once implemented, the plan is expected to double the amount of paper recycling. So far, recycling figures have held steady because "people don't know about the new program," he said.

"We have to get the word out and educate people," Garb said.

But that's not the only reason that recycling numbers have stayed the same.

"Recycling is sometimes not convenient on campus," said Katsura Nakajima, a psychology sophomore.

Other students like the UA's efforts.

"The recycling program is great," said Cuong Le, a computer engineering sophomore. "They are putting recycling bins everywhere, making it real simple."

Read Next Article