Never at any point in history has sustainability been so important, and it only becomes more so with every passing day. One of the core components of sustainability not only on our campus but in the world is dealing with waste production. And recycling remains the primary combatant against it. With my internship I am focusing on preventing recyclable waste that is not traditionally recycled from reaching landfills: dead alkaline batteries and dead pens/markers.
Though the generation of both these materials is small compared to other waste streams such as paper, bottles, and cans, the need to recycle them is no less important. It is this idea of our attempt to recycle all recyclable streams of waste that demonstrates our commitment to our Climate Action Plan. The “Dead Supplies Society” Recycling Program allows plastics from the pens and markers and alkaline and other metals from the batteries to be used again in other materials, a fundamental concept in sustainability.
The other side of my internship includes the marketing aspect: spreading of awareness of the ability, and the need, to recycle pens and batteries. This demands the open communication with all those involved with the initiative, from zone managers and the building service workers to the faculty and staff generating waste. The second commitment in the UIC CAP is to become a “Zero Waste Campus,” referring to reaching a landfill diversion rate of 90%. I have learned that any progress toward that can only be achieved through a change, not in university policy, but in the habits and lifestyles of the individual members of the university community.
By: Alan Fortune