Recycling Renovation Pilot Project

Recycling Renovation Pilot Project

Abstract image of building facade in black and red. Photo by Craig Chandler

UNL is launching a pilot project designed to meet the desires of our UNL campus community to make recycling easier and more efficient at UNL. This pilot project aims to determine the efficacy of implementing a standardized recycling operation across campus, through the alignment of containers, labels, messaging, and collection processes.

Pilot Project Buildings

City Campus:

  • Alexander
  • Andersen Hall
  • Canfield Administration
  • Hamilton Hall
  • Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center and Van Brunt Visitors Center

East Campus:

  • Agricultural Hall
  • Filley Hall and Food Industry Complex
  • Hardin Hall

Recycling Guide

Download and review the Guide to Recycling at UNL document to learn more about the process for handling your waste during the pilot project.

Guide to Recycling at UNL

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Recycling Renovation Pilot Project?

New waste and recycling stations with standardized signage will be placed throughout the pilot buildings in high traffic, centralized locations, replacing the mismatched containers currently in circulation. These stations, including both landfill (trash) and recycling, will be serviced by UNL Custodial Services (CS), eliminating the often confusing and inefficient collection processes for recycling that vary across buildings. During the pilot project, CS will discontinue weekly service of landfill containers (trash cans) in private offices and cubicles, and landfill containers will be removed from classrooms and conference rooms. This will allow CS to focus on servicing both landfill and recyclable materials from the centralized stations.

What is the goal of the project?

This pilot project seeks to meet the desires of the UNL campus community to make recycling easier and more efficient at UNL. Results of a 2019 Office of Sustainability survey show that over 93% of 9,000 faculty, staff, and students at UNL identify recycling as a priority on campus. This pilot project aims to make recycling easier and more efficient at UNL, provide better education for the campus community, and help achieve University-wide goals of becoming a zero-waste campus by 2030, as outlined in the recently approved sustainability master plan. Specifically, this project is an effort to increase the amount of materials correctly recycled at UNL and decrease the amount of materials sent to the landfill. Pre-pilot waste audits in each of the pilot buildings reveal that an average 25% of materials found in current landfill streams could instead be recycled. It is expected that empowering the UNL community to monitor and sort their waste items will lead to more mindful consumption and disposal behaviors, reducing contamination and improving recycling rates!

How do you know this will work?

While we are hopeful that this project will be successful in achieving our goals, we will be using the project as a learning experience to refine practices and improve efficiency. This project is being modeled after successful implementation of centralized waste collection programs at other higher education institutions like the University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, University of Kansas, Clemson University, and the University of Tennessee!

I work in one of the pilot buildings- what does this mean for me?

During the pilot project, UNL faculty and staff, students, and campus visitors will be asked to monitor the waste they produce and transport items to the nearest conveniently located, centralized waste and recycling station as often as necessary. During the pilot, UNL Custodial Services will discontinue weekly service of landfill containers (trash cans) in private offices and cubicles, and landfill containers will be removed from classrooms (including classroom labs) and conference rooms. As a member of the UNL community and pilot program participant, you are being asked to be mindful about the waste you produce and do your part to help UNL achieve less contamination in our waste stream and increased recycling rates!

Are you taking away my trash can?

New, centralized waste and recycling stations will replace mismatched, randomly placed landfill containers (trash cans) in hallways, conference rooms, classrooms, and kitchenettes. Landfill containers will remain in restrooms and research labs, and they will continue to be serviced by UNL Custodial Services (CS). Currently in use deskside trash cans will not be taken away (unless otherwise requested), but they will no longer be serviced by CS. If you chose to keep your deskside trash can, it will be your responsibility to transport its content to the nearest waste and recycling station to sort items for disposal.

Will Custodial Services provide me with plastic liners for my trash can?

UNL Custodial Services (CS) will not provide plastic liners to those who choose to keep their individual deskside trash can. CS studies show that plastic liners are not necessary for waste collection as they increase costs and produce more waste. For these reasons, we encourage you to try going without a liner for your waste items. Please keep in mind that if you choose to keep your deskside trash can during the pilot project, it will be your responsibility to keep it clean.

Where are the stations located in my building?

We have had extensive conversations with your building representative to determine ideal placement of new waste and recycling stations. Stations are primarily located in high traffic areas near restrooms, stairs and elevators, and building entrances.

What do I do if my nearest station is full?

UNL Custodial Services staff will be closely monitoring new waste and recycling stations, to avoid any instance of a full container. Should this happen, please contact the UNL Facilities Service Desk by calling (402) 472-1550.

What items are accepted at the centralized waste and recycling stations?

Most waste items commonly produced at UNL are accepted in the stations. Clear, image centric, color-coded graphics are located at the top of the stations, providing direction on what is accepted in each stream. The waste and recycling stations being utilized during the pilot project contain three streams- paper, plastic & aluminum, and landfill. Items placed in either recycling stream should be clean, dry, and free of food or other non-recyclable waste. Check out our updated Recycling Guide to learn more!

There is not a slot for cardboard in the waste and recycling station. What do I do with cardboard?

Please flatten cardboard and place it behind the waste and recycling station or take it directly to the nearest cardboard dumpster located outside your building.

Can pizza boxes be recycled?

Yes! Pizza boxes can be recycled, but must be free of contaminants including solid food residue (leftover pizza) and other waste items including pizza savers (little table), wax paper, sauce containers, etc. Small grease stains are okay. If your pizza boxes meet these criteria, please flatten your boxes and place them behind the waste and recycling station or take them directly to the nearest cardboard dumpster. If boxes are contaminated and not acceptable for recycling, they should be taken directly to the trash dumpster outside your building to be sent to the landfill.

Will Custodial Staff still provide cleaning service for my office?

Yes, office cleaning service will not be affected by the pilot project. UNL Custodial Services will continue regular office cleaning service, but will no longer provide weekly trash service.

My office has a shredding container for confidential documents? Will you take this away?

There will be no change to shredding processes in pilot buildings. If you have a container for confidential documents, it will remain in place as is.

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