Students, faculty, staff to discuss campus recycling practices

January 20, 2015 | by Jill Sakai


As we toss something into a recycling bin, the item leaves our minds almost as soon as it leaves our hands. But where does that material go? Why are there so many different bins? And does it really matter anyway?

TOPICS 2014Get the answers to these questions and more at Taking On Possibilities with Campus Sustainability (TOPICS): Behind the Scenes of Campus Recycling, on January 23, 2015, from 2-4 p.m. in The Marquee at Union South.

The student-led TOPICS series features annual student/faculty/staff discussion forums exploring different sustainability-related themes at UW–Madison. This year, a panel of five campus members will lead a conversation about current recycling practices and how the program could further improve campus sustainability.

The speakers include Kris Ackerbauer, the associate director of facilities, planning and management; Steve Heitz, the custodial service program supervisor; Cathy Middlecamp, professor of environmental studies; Miles Tryon-Petith, an undergraduate operations intern in the Office of Sustainability; and Luke Vandenlangenberg, an operations program associate in the College of Engineering. The event will be moderated by Olivia Sanderfoot, student leader and student programs coordinator in the Office of Sustainability.

The event will showcase a video following the journey recycled materials take from the bin to an off-campus materials recovery facility, followed by a discussion about the structure of UW–Madison’s recycling system and current best practices for recycling on campus. The discussion will also highlight results from a recent survey of campus users about their own recycling practices and address common questions such as why recycling must be sorted on campus but not in the city of Madison, how much contamination is too much, and how to correctly recycle one of the most commonly missorted items: single-use coffee cups.

The free event is open to the entire campus community and public. It is hosted by the Office of Sustainability as part of a year-long “Forward to Zero Waste” initiative exploring how to reduce waste at UW–Madison.