Monday, 12 March 2018 09:43

U of L is a friend of the environment with a first of its kind in Canada recycling initiative

Written by  Demi Knight
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The University of Lethbridge is making efforts to lessen their environmental footprint this year with the implementation of a new recycling system.

This current initiative which sees the institution recycling styrofoam through a calgary-based service called StyroGo, allowed for the university to become the first post-secondary facility in Canada to take this step forward and broaden their environmental efforts.
“We’re proud to add this product to our recycling stream and continue our commitment to lessening the amount of waste we send to the landfill and to reducing our environmental footprint,” says Judy Jaeger, manager of Facilities-Caretaking,
With many new recycling campaigns making their way to the forefront in recent years, the versatile material that is Styrofoam has seemed to be constantly overlooked by facilities across the country.
However, the University of Lethbridge has made the first move to realize the wide range of beneficial uses that it has. With an eco-friendly renewal process which results in the reduction of green house gas emissions, the recycling of this product offers countless benefits to the environment that the university is excited to reap.
“We’re constantly looking at our waste operations and trying to recycle as much material as possible,” says Jaeger. “Styrofoam is a particularly troublesome product because it does not break down very well and takes up considerable space in the landfill. This process of recycling is highly efficient, reducing large quantities of Styrofoam into small boxes of reusable material.”
This new recycling system that was put in place last June at the University features a special mobile unit that comes to the campus on a regular basis to pick-up Styrofoam recyclables before taking them back to their base plant. These items are then shredded and melted into highly-condensed blocks which are finally resold to companies that use recycled materials to make new products, and this process has seen extensive use within the facility so far, explains Jaeger.
“Since first starting our program in June 2017, we have recycled 490 pounds of Styrofoam, which is roughly equivalent to the volume of 4,000 basketballs,”
“As a result, the U of L has reduced its greenhouse gas production by an estimated 1.69 tonnes.”
However with this new initiative comes an added cost, since the recycling process has proved to be more expensive than generic disposal. Yet, Jaeger added that she believes since the process limits the amount of material entering the landfill the eventual cost will deteriorate over time, leaving nothing but positives for the University and this new initiative.
“As disposal fees for Styrofoam at the landfill increase over time and the technology for recycling continues to improve, we anticipate the financial incentive to recycle Styrofoam will only increase.”
With the institution's environmental concerns not stopping there, Jaeger also says University officials are hoping to see an eventual reduction in the amount of styrofoam and overall waste that comes to the campus. She hopes the facility can achieve this by working to ensure limited packaging is sent out by vendors and hopes that students feel encouraged to participate in leaving their clean waste at the appropriate central recycling area within the building for proper collection.

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