Sustainability Viewpoints

Sustainability is All About Efficiency

These days most of us are consumed with budget concerns and the economy. It’s times like these that people often question the relevance of sustainability. Yet, the very tenants of sustainability can help us reduce costs. I like to say that we have the greatest opportunity in our challenge areas, but it takes some creativity; the opportunity here is to take a thoughtful look at our practices and make changes to save money while also reducing waste.

Wal-Mart has emerged as a leader in sustainability. If you look at their long-standing business model, this is not surprising. A major component of their operating philosophy has been to save costs and increase profit margins by maximizing efficiency. They designed their approach to sustainability with a focus on mitigating waste – solid waste, wasted energy, and transportation dollars are examples. ASU shouldn’t be any different. Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under:All Campuses

Surplus Property-Zero Waste

ASU Surplus Property has identified Zero Waste as an area that we believe can have a big impact on for ASU and the environment. Evaluating our trash tonnage over the past years led us to believe that we could make substantial contributions to this goal with new uses for discarded material. We evaluated various areas in the operation and found opportunities to reduce waste and increase revenue.

We now harvest as many varieties of metal from retired university property as possible. Chairs, tables and desks are made up of a lot of metal. We separate the metal from the wood and sell the metal at our auction to the highest bidder. The revenue covers the additional labor involved in the tear down and the profit is several times more than the cost of the labor.

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Filed under:Tempe

New Addition to the Recycling Team

ASU Recycling has a new addition to our team thanks to volunteers and private contributions, and we need your help in naming it! Once you choose the name, our newest team member (a late 60’s golf cart) will be converted into a permanent roving recycling exhibit that will make its first public appearance at ASU’s Homecoming Parade. Please keep in mind that we can paint it, with recycled paint of course, to match the name.

Please click on the circle in front of the name you like the most:

Please visit our website and simply click on Take the Survey! The last day to vote will be Wednesday, November 5. If for whatever reason you are unable to vote off of our website, please try this link.

Dawn Ratcliffe
Program Coordinator, Grounds Dept, Recycling

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Filed under:Tempe

ASU Sign Shop’s Sustainable Signage

The ASU Sign Shop (Environmental Graphic Design Group) has been designing and maintaining sustainable signage on the ASU campus for over twenty years. The vast majority of the signage on all campuses has either been recycled from older sign parts, or will be refurbished to become another sign in the future as they are maintained. The standard ASU office sign is already made from some sustainable materials such as the Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) backer board, which is comprised of 100% reclaimed wood fibers from mills in California and uses a non-formaldehyde binder. The information portion of the sign consists of the plastic ADA compliant tactile/Braille room number.

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Spotlight Employee of the Month

If there had been a Global Institute of Sustainability, or a similar program, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte when Dawn Ratcliffe was a student in the mid-’90s, life would have been different for her.

Ratcliffe would not have majored in English and communications. She would have gone straight to her first loves, the environment and human and animal rights, without taking the slightest detour. So why didn’t Ratcliffe, who is now ASU’s Tempe campus recycling coordinator, simply change schools? “I really liked that college,” she said.

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Filed under:Tempe

Spotlight Department of the Month

School of Theatre

When you think about it, the theater department in any university is potentially one of the biggest producers of waste on campus.

Every production needs new sets, costumes, and a lot of lights. That means a great deal of paint, wood, fabric, steel and other construction materials, not to mention the paper for programs and scripts. There’s not a big market for used sets, or costumes an actor has worn under the hot lights.

However, changes can be made, to “green” the stage and ASU is in the forefront of taking action to do so. Some changes can be done immediately, but some take more time. For example, the investment for new lighting takes a long time to recoup, but paint can be recycled and re-used immediately. Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under:Tempe

ASU Paint Services Reclaimed Paint Program

Beginning January of 2008, ASU Paint Services started a “Recycled Paint Program”. Throughout the years, the Paint Shop accumulates a surplus of perfectly usable water-based paint. Our paint is received from numerous sources, including campus departments, outside contractors, and on occasion it is just left outside our doors.

The Paint Shop has very limited storage space. At one time, we were able to send overstock to Surplus Property. However, in the Fall of 2007, the criteria had changed, and so hundreds of gallons that we attempted to deliver to Surplus could no longer be accepted. We were told that if the paint buckets had been opened, they were no-longer acceptable.

We considered pouring the paint into our 55 gallon hazardous waste containers, and having Environmental Health and Safety take it away. The downside to this, is that it is a costly service, and we learned that the containers are delivered to an unspecified location somewhere in Utah. It became apparent that this plan would be expensive on many levels, and all for the disposal of good, useable paint.

That is when we decided to start our Reclaimed Paint Program. So far, hundreds of gallons of paint have been condensed and consolidated, strained and then stored in 5-gallon buckets with a sample of the color painted on the lid. In addition, each full bucket has a recycled vinyl label, courtesy of the ASU Campus Signage.

The Paint Shop has been using the recycled paint for a variety of work so far, including covering graffiti, painting restrooms, handrails, exterior doors, and as a primer for new construction and accent walls. Some of the recycled paint has been donated to ASU students for various campus projects.

We have been and continue to keep records on dates, and on the quantity of paint coming in and going out. So far, we have accounted for having used 315 gallons of this paint.

Roseann Barton
Painting Supervisor

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Filed under:Tempe

Recycling Do’s & Don’ts

DO recycle all of the items listed in this link in your commingled bins: http://uabf.asu.edu/recycling_commingled. Please note that aerosol cans will most likely not be accepted  with the other commingled items in the near future – we are waiting on a final confirmation from ADEQ.

DO recycle toner cartridges, ASU-generated batteries, packaging peanuts, bubble wrap, cardboard, shredded paper, etc. For more info, visit: http://uabf.asu.edu/recycling_at_asu.

DO break down and flatten all cardboard boxes before recycling them and remove all trash or other recyclables and place those items in the appropriate container. Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed under:Tempe

Supplier Corner - Large Recycler of the Year

Carpet America Recovery Effort names Shaw Industires the Large recycler of the Year. Shaw has recycled more than 100 million pounds of post-consumer carpet through the Evergreen Nylon Recycling facility, gaining industry recognition.

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Why a Sustainability Blog

This blog has been developed in partnership with many of the operational departments at ASU. GIOS, Purchasing and Facilities have taken the lead to bring you the latest information on sustainability that is not always apparent or available to the university community. We hope that this will give you a better understanding how different areas of the university are working for a sustainable ASU. Feel free to contact us with any questions or suggestions that will make this a better site. Our email address is sustainabilitypractices@asu.edu

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