UTC’s current partnership with Orange Grove benefits not only the environment, but the community as well.
“The benefit is twofold. We’re keeping this material out of the landfill and we’re supporting a community organization,” says Lisa Darger, Sustainability Coordinator.
The John F. Germ Recycling Center at Orange Grove presently employs over 100 developmentally disabled citizens. UTC contracts with Orange Grove for recycling pick up. Employees from Orange Grove currently pick up recyclables from housing, the Aquatic and Recreation Center, the University Center, and the Lupton Library.
Orange Grove picks up paper, aluminum, steel, and all types of plastic, #1-7. The Recycling Center at Orange Grove processes over 1.5 million pounds of product each month, thereby diverting this material from local landfills.
“Space in the U.S. for landfills is decreasing. We’re reducing the waste that goes into landfills. And Orange Grove is a very well established community organization that employs people that may not otherwise be able to find jobs. So you’re taking a group of people that has capabilities, but may have a physical or mental disability, and you’re putting them into an environment where they can be productive,” says Darger.
The partnership with Orange Grove began in 2008, after an increased push for recycling at UTC.
“Students really wanted to increase the recycling on campus,” explains Darger.
The partnership with Orange Grove is a part of the Green Initiative, which is supported by the student green fee, first introduced in 2007-2008 after a student vote. The initial purpose of the fee was to support the campus Recycling Program, purchase Green Power, and consider and implement other eco-friendly campus programs and initiatives approved through the Environmental Task Force Committee.
Prior to the creation of the Green Fee, UTC supported paper recycling, with bins in computer labs and by printers and copiers, but it had no comprehensive recycling program for plastics and aluminum cans. The green fee now funds campus-wide recycling.
This $10 per student per semester fee also enhances environmental endeavors such as the recycling program and provides exterior lighting retrofits for increased energy efficiency. UTC has a LEED certified building on campus, Bretske Hall, and the new library will hopefully be LEED certified as well. The University has also reduced its carbon footprint.
With the creation of the Green Initiative, the University is saving energy and becoming more environmentally conscious.
“The student green fee has been very beneficial in doing a lot of good things on campus. Being a sustainable campus is very important, and Orange Grove is a good fit for that,” says Darger.
Outside of housing, the ARC, the UC, and the Lupton Library, recyclables are collected by facilities and custodial staff and taken to local recycling centers.
Recycling reduces the use of non-renewable resources, landfill waste, pollution, and impact on the environment. It takes less energy to make materials from recycled components than from raw materials. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water.
“We have at least doubled the amount of recyclables on campus. I think that everyone gets a little joy out of this great partnership with Orange Grove. Staff and students get to interact with Orange Grove employees. I have had so many positive comments from people about how happy they seem that they’re able to do something good. Because collecting the recyclables and helping our environment is a good thing, and they really enjoy their work.”
For more information about recycling at UTC, visit the Office of Sustainability website.