By Matt Kelly
Photo by Dan Addison
|Students Amber N. Zinni (left) and Lindsey Lee Daniels sort through trash during a dumpster dive in front of Old Cabell Hall on April 20.
How much is thrown out that shouldn’t be?
On April 20, student employees of the Recycling Department and members of Conservation Advocates, a student environmental group, conducted a dumpster dive to answer that question. They parked two dumpsters in front of Old Cabell Hall and emptied their contents on the ground.
Bruce C. “Sonny” Beale, the recycling program superintendent, said that about 85 percent of the contents of the dumpster near academic buildings could have been recycled. About 75 percent of the contents of the one taken from student residential areas could have been recycled, he said. The contents included aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles, as well as paper.
“We can recycle more things than ever before and people are throwing away more,” Beale said. University recycling currently handles aluminum, all grades of plastic bottles, both newsprint and office paper and glass bottles. It costs U.Va. about $45 a ton to recycle, while it costs about $66 a ton to dispose of trash.
“We need to get better education on this,” Beale said.
Lindsey Lee Daniels, a student worker at recycling and a member of Conservation Advocates, plans to work this summer on recycling education for students. A second-year majoring in English and education, Daniels wants to incorporate it into first-year orientation.
Despite what is being thrown away, U.Va. has increased its recycling tremendously over the years, Beale said. In 1990, U.Va. recycled about 600 tons of material, while it recycled 5,642 tons in 2005. For more information, go to http://recycle.virginia.edu.