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Recycling/Surplus Department aims to reduce waste on campus

WKU creates 5.5 million pounds of solid waste on campus each year.

WKU’s Department of Facilities Management/Recycling is collaborating with the Purchasing Department in an attempt to reduce waste by forming a new Recycling/Surplus Department.

On July 18 the collaboration assumed surplus responsibilities as part of WKU’s strategy toward a goal of near zero campus waste.

“We seek to have items re-used to the greatest extent possible,” Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said. “We will cultivate relationships with other institutions and organizations to try to put items that are no longer needed on campus in the hands of those that can use them.”

WKU recently changed to single stream recycling, which provides campus with opportunities to increase the amount of recyclable materials.

Over the next five years, Ryan-Downing says WKU hopes to increase its recycling rate from 13 percent to at least 35 percent.

Some changes expected from the surplus reorganization include a new workflow system and website featuring all items available for re-use. The new website is still under construction, and announcements will be made on the WKU Recycling Facebook page.

Plans are also underway to create an online photo catalogue of all the surplus items, and any items going unclaimed will be available for public purchasing.

“Items will first be available for re-use on campus and then for use by other educational institutions, state agencies or non-profits,” Ryan-Downing said.

The recycling office will be relocated to the Supply Services Building in a few weeks.

The new department is also welcoming its new recycling coordinator, Sara Ferguson, a recent Hilltopper graduate with a degree in sustainable development and geography.

With experience as GreenTopper president, the sustainability educator for HRL and an energy intern for the Office of Sustainability, Ryan-Downing said the new department feels Ferguson is up to the task.

Ferguson says she plans to guarantee the constant movement of functional items at WKU to prevent waste and misuse.

“Items will not sit around with no plan for them until they become broken or obsolete technology,” she said.

Ferguson said she also hopes to improve the recycling flow on WKU’s campus by using modern technology.

“I have plans to decrease the frequency of overflowing bins with QR codes and giving the campus an opportunity to let us know we have an overflowing bin with their smart phone,” she said.

Contact: Christian Ryan-Downing, (270) 745-2508.

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