Turning trash into cash, savings

10:20:48 AM CDT - Friday, October 06, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

By increasing their recycling efforts, particularly of paper products, WSU employees will be helping the university-- and the Earth-- be a little more green.

And if employees need a reminder about that green benefit, the larger recycling bins from WSU's new paper recycling company, Abitibi Consolidated, are it.

Abitibi Consolidated recycle bin
Abitibi Consolidated has placed nine of these receptacles on the WSU campus to collect newspapers, magazines, office paper and junk mail.
The Canadian-based company, named for the river where it was founded more than 90 years ago, has placed nine large, green receptacles around campus to start collecting newspapers, office paper, magazines and even junk mail.

The new partnership will have some "green" effects for the university: Abitibi will pay WSU for each ton of paper it hauls away. Also by recycling, WSU avoids the $46 fee it has to pay for every ton of trash taken to the landfill transfer station.

"Another cool thing is all this stuff isn't polluting the Earth," said Kari Ossman, a Physical Plant employee who works on the recycling effort at WSU.

Employees don't even need to worry about sorting their paper products before dumping them in the bins marked "Abitibi Paper Retriever" and featuring the company's golden retriever mascot, said Ossman, noting that the company collects junk mail, too, which wasn't recycled before on campus.

WSU will continue to work with Weyerhaeuser to recycle cardboard, phonebooks and campus directories, plastics and aluminum.

"People have been good about wanting to recycle," Ossman said.

And the numbers prove her right.

In 2005, WSU recycled nearly 157.5 tons of aluminum, cardboard, paper products and plastics. Last year, that number increased to 166 tons. And in the first five months of this year, nearly 63.5 tons was recycled, according to Physical Plant technician Mary Ann Covalt.

The university also is involved in recycling other products, Ossman explained. Batteries, tires, scrap metal, oil, antifreeze and Freon are all recycled. Brush from shrubs and tree trimmings are turned into mulch and grass clippings become compost.

Ossman has also located a recycling company in Wichita that will take old computers for free and monitors for $3.
"In the past, we used to take (computers) by the truckload to the landfill because when they're done, they're done,"she said.

Abitibi marked its launch into the Wichita market with a "Rock with Recycling" kickoff event last month at WSU, offering a chance to win Rolling Stones tickets to anyone bringing two bags of paper products for recycling. The event brought in 14,700 pounds of paper.

According to the company's Web site, Abitibi is the largest recycler of newspapers and magazines in North America, serving nearly 25 metropolitan areas in the United States and Canada.

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