delware environmental institute

Single stream recycling brings record diversion rate

The University of Delaware's single stream recycling plan has achieved a campus record diversion rate of just over 31 percent in September and just over 30 percent in October

Diversion rates are calculated by dividing the total weight of recyclable material by the weight of all trash plus recyclables.

The total amount of trash in September was 341 tons, and an estimated 106 tons were diverted from landfills through recycling. The total amount of trash in October was 324 tons, with 97.5 tons recycled.

“This is highest diversion rate the University of Delaware has ever recorded campus-wide,” said Michael Loftus, assistant director of Facilities-Grounds Services.

“Because we are still in the early stages of single stream recycling, we expect the rate to continue to rise as faculty, staff and students get more familiar with the program,” Loftus added.

The new single stream recycling program, which was a major overhaul of the University's recycling system, took effect Sept. 1.

It provides that recyclable materials no longer need to be sorted, with UD community members able to place all accepted recyclable items into any blue recycling container on campus.

Under the new program, a blue recycling container bearing the Single Stream Recycling logo will be placed next to every trash can across the campus, in every residence hall room and in each office.

The following materials may be placed in the blue Single Stream Recycling containers:

  • Paper: Newspaper, computer and copier paper, brown paper bags, colored paper, junk mail/envelopes, paper juice boxes, etc.
  • Plastic: Plastic bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles, empty plastic bags
  • Metal: Aluminum cans, food and beverage cans, empty aerosol cans, etc.
  • Glass: Clear, green, brown glass containers

Cardboard boxes must be broken down. Food waste and any specialty recycling items, such as electronics, should not be placed in the blue containers.

In fall 2008, Loftus said UD launched a small pilot single stream recycling program, which placed single stream recycling at residence halls and offices on Laird Campus and South Campus, In addition a game day recycling program was instituted during Blue Hen home football games at Delaware Stadium. The diversion rate for the entire campus in September 2008 was 21.9 percent.

In September 2007, when the University was still operating a separated recycling program in which individuals had to manually separate recyclable items before placing them in receptacles -- the diversion rate was 13 percent. It was 10.7 percent that in October 2007.

“The impact of adding new containers and switching to a single stream recycling program has significantly increased the University's diversion rate,” Loftus said. “By comparing September and October 2007 to September and October 2009, one can see the impact of the new system.”

While the statistics are promising, Loftus said UD is working on further improvements to the recycling system with its state partner, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority. The University will be refining communication plans and strategies, and improving the placement of bins.

Information on the UD recycling system can be found the Web site.

Loftus added the University is always interested in receiving feedback and can answer any questions regarding the program at [recycle@facilities.udel.edu].