Solar Compactors, Extra Bins Add to Green Efforts
September 30, 2009 – From new solar-powered trash compactors to a desk-side recycling program, Georgetown has kicked its sustainability efforts up a notch to progress the university’s ultimate green goal of becoming a zero-waste campus and reducing its overall carbon footprint.
“We want to improve our carbon footprint, and we’ve done well so far,” says Karen Frank, vice president of facilities and student housing. “But there’s more we can do. We have ambitious goals, and we’ll need everyone at Georgetown to help us meet them.”
Georgetown has committed to halving its overall carbon footprint from the 2006 level by 2020. In 2008, the university’s carbon footprint stood at 91,123 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.
“We are working toward this goal by continuing to improve efficiencies in central utilities plant generation and distribution, building and renovating to LEED standards, buying clean energy and enhancing recycling efforts,” says Senior Vice President Spiros Dimolitsas.
Recycling Picks Up
The university rolled out new trash and recycling containers to help in that effort. Twenty solar-powered trash compactors with attached recycling receptacles debuted around Main Campus and the Medical Center in late September. The units compact the trash regularly, so five times as much waste fits into a barrel compared to traditional trashcans.
“The compactors should also increase recycling because the recycling bins are attached on either side of the trash compartment,” explains Bill Del Vecchio, the university’s recycling manager. “That makes it a lot easier for people to recycle, instead of looking around for the recycling cans.”
Almost any material may be recycled provided it is put in the proper receptacle for paper, glass, cans or plastic. For example, all types of paper may be mixed in the paper unit and the plastic receptacles handle items including plastic bags or bottles.
Recycling Made Easy
A new desk-side recycling program that targets faculty and staff also aims to increase green behavior.
“We’re trying to make recycling as easy and as second-nature as possible. This way, you don’t have to interrupt your work or train of thought to recycle,” Del Vecchio says.
The enhanced recycling efforts, which will roll out through October, add to Georgetown’s existing recycling initiatives, which include e-waste of office equipment and electronics, food scraps for composting, reusable materials from furniture and clothing and more. Del Vecchio estimates that about 10 percent of university waste ever reaches a landfill.
“We’re moving toward becoming a zero-waste campus,” Del Vecchio says. “All federal buildings are supposed to be zero-waste by 2013 – so it’d be great if we can beat out the government and get there by 2012.