- History of Improved Operation
- Recent Initiatives and Program Improvements
Recycling Services began at Texas A&M University in 1990 as a custodial pilot project in six campus buildings to recycle white paper and aluminum cans. In 1991, the Texas Legislature enacted “Waste Reduction Programs” as part of the Solid Waste Disposal Act of the Texas Health and Safety Code. To ensure State requirements were met, Texas A&M University implemented a campus-wide recycling program managed by the Physical Plant.
Renewed efforts were made over time to increase the type and quantity of items recycled to include colored paper, phone books, and text books. Utilities & Energy Services (UES) assumed management of the university solid waste and recycling services program in 1994 with two front-load collection vehicles and one roll-on/roll-off collection vehicle. In order to improve cost-effectiveness and level of service, the use of contract hauling was ceased in 2003 and UES began providing all university solid waste and recycling services, including 90% of the construction and renovation waste disposal on campus. As an example of volume, roll-on/roll-off service was at 200 loads per month in 2002, and increased by 75 percent, to 350 loads per month by 2011, after a fourth roll-on/roll-off vehicle was added in 2010. Higher quality and lower cost service is provided by UES compared to service available from commercial operators.
In 2008, Solid Waste and Recycling Services was combined under the same supervisor and manager to make these two operations more cohesive and to continue increasing service quality and cost-effectiveness. Recycling routes were modified and sorting of recycled material was converted to batch handling as a result of falling commodity prices in 2009, which resulted in lower revenue.
The university has now been able to expand the type of recycled materials to also include construction and demolition debris such as concrete, wood, metal and sheetrock, glass and organic materials such as brush/limb clippings, manure, lab animal bedding, and food waste.
- Big Belly Solar Compactors. Five Big Belly Solar Compactors and 10 accompanying plastic recycling bins were purchased and placed on campus, for introduction at Campus Sustainability Day in October 2008.
- Plastic Bottle Recycling. 200 plastic bottle recycling bins were placed near vending locations in campus buildings in January 2009, with expanded plastic bottle collection.
- Partnership with Brazos Valley Recycling. After several months of discussion, UES began a partnership with BVR in July 2010 as a source to accept traditional recycling materials plus materials that previously had to be sent to the landfill (i.e., construction and demolition debris, concrete, manure, animal bedding, and tree/brush trimmings).
- Bio-energy Partners of America (BEPA). In December 2010, the Texas A&M System Board of Regents approved a land lease for the construction and operation of a bio-waste digester to be located near the existing TAMU wastewater treatment plant. Conceptually, this digester unit will produce commercial grade fertilizer and methane gas to be used to generate electricity from bio-waste from campus and other regional bio-waste streams. BEPA is in the process of securing funding and customers for this digester project, with a goal of beginning construction by December 2011.
- Aggie Green Fund Grant. A $123,500 grant was submitted by UES and awarded by the Aggie Green Fund in April 2011 to purchase 3-stream recycling bins for the main campus, with the primary placement area planned around the Academic Building. The goal is to purchase and place 13 additional Big Belly Solar Compactors in service in Fall Semester 2011.
- New Recycling Services Center. In August 2011, Recycling Services will move from the previous Recycling Center, near Hensel Park, to Building 510 on Adriance Lab Road (on West Campus). The new location includes a new campus recycling drop-off center which is just south of Raymond Stotzer Parkway (Hwy 60).
- Recycling Drop-off Center. On Campus Earth Day 2011 (April 20), UES opened a new on-campus drop-off center for paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, and glass. The compartmentalized recycling containers were obtained from BVR and are maintained by UES.
- Residence Hall Recycling Drop-off. Arrangements have been made to have BVR provide two additional compartmentalized recycling containers - one in the Northside Housing Area (PA32) and the other in the Southside Housing Area (north end of Appelt Hall). These new containers will be in service in Fall Semester 2011.
- University Dining has a food waste recycling program with Terrabon and works with BVR to manage a post-consumer material recycling program.
- Transportation Services recycles automotive batteries, tires and used oil.
- Purchasing Services manages metal and computer recycling.
- Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) recycles rechargeable batteries, cell phones, and fluorescent lamps. EHS also recycles most of the hazardous waste material collected on campus.
- Facilities Services/Landscape Services recycles tree limbs and brush clippings to BVR.
- Environmental Issues Committee This student group organizes the Kyle Field plastic bottle recycling and a curbside recycling program for students who live on campus. UES provides containers and removal services to recycle this material once it is collected.
- Office of Sustainability coordinates a number of student activities and, together with UES, provides education and raises awareness about recycling services available at TAMU.
- Several colleges have their own internal recycling programs including Colleges of Education, Architecture, and Mays Business School. Evans Library also has a very active recycling program. UES coordinates with these different departments to remove the recycled material.
FY2010 was a record year for recycling of paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles, with almost 1,000 tons collected - an increase of six percent over prior year. In June 2011, UES completed the first full year of partnership with BVR, resulting in a significant increase in the volume of recycled material. A comparison chart below shows recycled material volume for June 2010 vs. June 2011, which highlights the significant increase in volume that has been achieved.
In addition to increased recycling volume, substantial operational cost savings have been realized through improvements made in the Solid Waste & Recycling Services operation. The availability of the BVR site close to campus came at an excellent time to avoid significant cost increases that would have been associated with the opening of the new Twin Oaks landfill in Grimes County in July 2011. The opening of the Twin Oaks landfill more than doubles the required travel time for deliveries, and the related cost, when compared to the previous landfill.
Overall, recycling volumes continue to increase and improve at TAMU. Operational improvements to the program and building an effective partnership with a local firm like BVR has provided substantial operating cost savings, increased the quantity of recycled material, and allowed for improved equipment and infrastructure – all while operating in a more sustainable manner.