A look inside the recycling process at the University


Sydney Newman

Every item placed in a recycling bin on the UA campus is taken to the University Recycling Center. Located on 14th Street, the University Recycling Center is the destination for typical recyclable products: aluminum cans, plastic, scrap metal and wood and paper of all types.

However, the center is also capable of recycling many other products not commonly thought of as recyclable – grease and compost from the dining halls, cell phones, light bulbs – the list goes on.

Other common recyclable materials are motor oil and car batteries from University vehicles, computer parts – including the monitor, mouse, keyboard, console, printer, scanner and even toner cartridges.

From October 2010 to August 2011, the Recycling Center recycled 2,405,882 pounds of material from campus.

“If a student puts a plastic bottle in a UA recycling container on Thursday afternoon, the UA Recycling department would collect the recycling bag on Friday morning, and our recycling vendor would pick the plastic item up on Friday afternoon,” said Tony Johnson, executive director of the Recycling Center. “The recycling vendor would process the items within five business days and ship to the manufacturer that processes plastic to be recycled.

“The recycled plastic item could be back on the grocery shelf in as little as 60 days, and aluminum cans can be back on a grocery shelf in as little as 30 days.”

Johnson said the University as a whole is doing a great job with recycling waste. The best way to improve the recycling process, he said, is to make a conscious effort to place any recyclable waste in the recycling containers instead of throwing those items away.

The Center faced new obstacles following the destruction caused by the April 27 tornado. With the city of Tuscaloosa now relying on them for their recycling needs, Johnson said the recycling volume has increase greatly in the past months.

“We are accepting and processing about 25 tons of paper, cardboard, cans and plastic,” he said. “We shipped out eight tractor-trailer loads of baled paper and cardboard, along with plastic for the month of August, and shipped out another five tractor-trailer loads in the month of September. These two months alone represent 253 tons that have been recycled and diverted from the local landfill.”

For more information, visit the UA Recycling website at financialaffairs.ua.edu/admin/lss/recycle. For more information on the University’s effort to “Go Green,” visit gogreen.ua.edu/.