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UCLA Magazine Fall 2003
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It's Not Easy Being Green
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Fall 2003
It’s Not Easy Being Green
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Over the course of a year, UCLA sends some 306 tons of discarded white paper to a recycler instead of to a landfill. Yet white-paper recycling constitutes only a small part of UCLA’s campaign, begun in 1990, to recycle campus waste to conserve resources and reduce environmental pollution.

“We get hit with as much waste as a small city every day,” says E.J. Kirby, manager of campus maintenance, who oversees UCLA’s recycling program. “That’s waste from more than 60,000 people working, studying, eating, drinking, dropping and spilling on campus every day.”

UCLA churns out about 51 tons of solid waste every day, almost 19,000 tons every year. While not all of it can be recycled, a huge portion is. Some 304 tons a year of cardboard and corrugated board, most of it from packaged goods received by the medical center, is recycled. There’s also an annual 6,500 tons of mixed paper — including many of the 15,000 Daily Bruins that hit the campus every weekday — that is collected in recycling bins around campus. And in buildings identified as significant sources of paper waste, Facilities Management custodians further trawl for mixed paper by performing a “negative sort” of waste from trash cans and three-cubic-yard bins on building loading docks.

“We’re recycling at about 23 percent of our waste stream,” says Jack Powazek ’72, M.B.A. ’74, Ed.D. ’01, assistant vice chancellor of Facilities Management and Environment, Health & Safety. “We’re working very, very hard. This is an effort that requires an infrastructure that is quite extensive.”

Contrary to popular belief, recycling is not a money-making venture. While white paper brings the university some financial return, most aspects of recycling cost money, from equipment to labor to outside recycling vendors.

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