Campus-wide single stream recycling for glass, metal, plastic and paper is offered to all students, faculty and staff in campus academic and residential buildings. Specifically, all campus offices are provided with recycling bins, and buildings can request additional bins, for public areas from Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M). On an annual basis, ISU achieves an average recycling rate of 65%.
Additional recycling for items specifically connected to campus operations is also available for departments and units. Items in these recycling programs include, but are not limited to, electronics, chemicals, rechargeable batteries, light bulbs, toner cartridges, lab equipment, cell phones, confidential documents and demolition and construction waste. Though not established programs, impressive results have also been achieved in recycling mattresses and used cooking oil. In addition to recycling traditional items such as glass and cardboard, ISU Dining recycles the plastic pallets used for food delivery. Broken kitchen equipment is also recycled into scrap metal.
In 2009, through a partnership with the Department of Residence (DOR), The GreenHouse Group student organization spearheaded the focused effort and commitment toward researching, designing and implementing a specialized multi-commodity recycling program for all students in campus residential housing. This residential program proceeded and helped to forge the pathway for implementation of the current campus-wide single stream system. Through this residential initiative, 18.5 tons of materials were recycled in the first six months, and nearly 50 tons are recycled on an annual basis.
Though a part of the university’s single stream recycling system, glass has a unique companion recycling opportunity at ISU. In 2012, through a partnership with the City of Ames' Resource Recovery System, focused on diverting all glass waste from the community’s waste stream, the Laboratory Glass Recycling Programwas established. This program, developed and implemented through a collaborative effort of FP&M, Environmental Health and Safety, and the Office of Sustainability provides durable, leak-proof and reusable glass recycling bins for campus laboratories. The City of Ames also provides glass collection containers across campus, specifically targeting glass waste from campus operations.
In addition, a number of targeted recycling efforts take place throughout the academic year to increase awareness and engagement in waste diversion for the on-campus community, as well as visitors to Iowa State, such as the TreeCYcle program, which recycles downed campus trees into furniture.
"The biggest challenge is to heighten the awareness that this is your legacy, you live here, clean up after yourself. It's the right thing to do to take the extra step and throw that gum wrapper away or recycle that piece of paper and be a sustainable person."
-Norm Hill, Logistics and Support Services Director