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Waste and Recycling

One of the most important principles of sustainability is to reduce waste.

Waste Minimization

UMass Lowell has well-developed Recycling & Waste Diversion programs in place. As these programs continue to evolve, they reduce solid waste and increase recycling efforts across all corners of campus.

The Office of Sustainability is committed to minimizing the amount of waste generated by the university.

To learn more about some of our initiatives in this area check out the following:

The Office of Sustainability is committed to minimizing the amount of waste generated by the university. 

To learn more about some of our initiatives in this area check out the following:


Myth
Recycling doesn’t work anymore. There is no point in continuing to recycle.

Fact

Recycling still works. Despite the decline in commodity values driven by China’s National Sword policy, recycling still conserves natural resources, prevents pollution, saves energy and reduces waste sent to disposal facilities. Recycling happens when someone buys recycled materials and turns them into new products. This still occurs today.

Beyond China, resourceful recyclers like Casella have found other outlets to buy materials to be transformed into new products. And there is a silver lining resulting from the Chinese ban, and that is that new capacity to recycle materials (fiber mills) will be coming online in the Northeast over the next 18-24 months. This new capacity will improve commodity values and create new jobs locally. The time is now to continue to support and improve existing recycling programs. 


Myth

Recycling is just getting thrown away due to contamination. Today recyclable materials are being discarded in landfills and incinerators.

Fact

This is not true. The average contamination rate of incoming single stream material (such as
Zero-Sort® Recycling) is 20%. Your program may be higher or lower depending upon how educated
and compliant your community is with what it places in the recycling bins. Casella asserts that 100% of non-contaminated recyclables that it receives and processes are sold to end markets to be made into new products or put to beneficial use. Single stream recycling remains as today’s most convenient and advanced technology for collecting, processing and transforming recyclables into new products. In fact, each year Casella’s recycling facilities yield over 500,000 tons (one billion pounds!!) of materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic and metal that are transformed into new products or put to beneficial use. 


Myth

In light of the decline in commodity values, single stream recycling is no longer effective. We should consider going back to dual stream or source separated recycling.

Fact

Single stream recycling remains as the most effective approach for capturing the greatest amount
of recycling; it has more than doubled and even tripled recycling rates in towns across the country since its advent in the 1990s. It is embraced by consumers because it is the most convenient method for discarding recyclables. In light of the commodity value decline the onus is on all of us as recyclers to educate our consumers how to Recycle Better to make the recycling streams cleaner and more valuable.