Solid Waste Recycling

Annual Waste Stream Audit

For Earth Day, Wharton Operations continues its focus on waste and recycling by completing waste audit at Jon M. Huntsman Hall (JMHH). We worked hard to implement the recommendations of the previous year’s waste audit and worked closely with faculty, staff and students to change behavior and improve recycling.

2011 Audit Results
2010 Audit Results

Wharton Computing Deskside Recycling Pilot a Success

In November 2010, we launched a deskside recycling pilot in partnership with Wharton Computing on the 2nd floor of Vance Hall. We removed deskside trash cans and replaced them with deskside paper recycling bins and upgraded the central recycling/trash stations in each cluster.

Results from February 2011 showed a 204% increase in recycling on that floor. Thank you to our amazing housekeeping team for fantastic tracking and implementation and to Wharton Computing for incredible participation.

Supplemental Recycling: Alkaline Batteries

Wharton is the first school or center at the University to begin recycling alkaline batteries.  Wharton Operations purchased a Big Green Box, which allows us to collect on site and ship to their final recycling destination.  Big Green Box has developed a method of safe transport that ensures that batteries don’t leak or cause other safety issues when shipped in large quantities.  Alkaline batteries are typically thrown away in landfills and contain small amounts of toxic materials.  The Big Green Box is sent to Toxco, Inc. who recovers the case metals, manganese and zinc and resells them in secondary markets.  Wharton uses hundreds of alkaline batteries each year for small electronics, classroom technology and clocks, so we are pleased to have found a way to recycle them.

Update: Schools and centers across Penn have adopted Big Green Box battery recycling to great success. Central Purchasing at Penn is currently evaluating a campus-wide contract with Big Green Box to allow for easier deployment of bins schoolwide.

Supplemental Recycling: Writing Instruments

We are participating in a new program run by Penn’s Business Services unit that recycles worn out writing instruments of all kinds.  We have a collection site at Wharton Operations and have encouraged our departmental green teams to create additional collection points across the Wharton Complex.  For every writing instrument that Penn recycles, two cents ($0.02) will be designated to the Penn Green Fund.  For more information on the program, visit the Penn Sustainability website.

Aggregating Ink and Toner Recycling

We know that printer ink and toner cartridges contain materials that should not be thrown in landfills, but we also recently learned that the carbon footprint of individually shipping each cartridge back to the manufacturer for recycling  can be quite high.  Penn’s Business Services unit has developed an Ink and Toner Recycling aggregation program in partnership with Telrose Corp. and Office Depot, where all cartridges will be picked up from departments, consolidated for the entire university, palletized and then shipped in bulk to the manufacturer for recycling.  This encourages recycling and reduces the footprint of doing so.

CFL Recycling

Wharton Operations has partnered with Penn’s Division of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) to provide on-site recycling drop-off for Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs at Jon M. Huntsman Hall.  This is the first non-residential academic building on campus to pilot this program.  On-site drop-off reduces the number of CFLs that get thrown away or disposed of improperly, and allows Wharton Operations to take an active role in our waste stream management.

Wharton More Than Doubles Recycling Bins

Reducing our environmental footprint means that we must reduce the amount of waste generated by the Wharton community. In Fall 2008, Wharton doubled the number of plastic, glass and paper recycling bins in classrooms and public areas in Huntsman Hall. Our recycling rate increased from 18% to 25% of total waste diverted from landfills over that time, saves money in waste hauling fees, and creates post-consumer recycled content that saves trees and reduces resources used for virgin materials.

Three Receptacle Program a Success

Wharton was the first school at Penn to roll out a three receptacle (glass/plastic, paper and trash) program in 2004 in all Wharton buildings. This innovative container makes recycling as convenient as throwing waste away, and now all tiered classrooms and additional public spaces are fully equipped.

Cardboard Bailer Institutionalizes Recycling

Huntsman Hall was one of the first facilities on campus to install a bailer in the loading dock to compact cardboard boxes. Bailers take empty boxes and crush them down so that they can be easily hauled away and recycled. This ensures that recycling is happening for all cardboard that comes through the loading dock, and that we are conscious of our waste stream both as building users and building managers.


WCIT’s Techno Trash Receptacles and Larger Item Drop-Off Days

WCIT provides a recycling bin outside of its headquarters in Huntsman Hall where students, faculty, staff and visitors can drop off small e-waste to be recycled. The Techno Trash Can accepts laptops, cell phones, cables, MP3 players, digital cameras, hard drives, jump drives and more. For CPUs, monitors and printers, WCIT organizes quarterly drop-off days in which academic and administrative departments can drop off their items to be hauled away and recycled by Elemental. Some departments donate usable equipment to local schools or charities. For details on the University e-waste guidelines, visit here. WCIT is considering a system for tracking all e-waste to ensure compliance with recycling policies.


Joe’s Cafe Earns Penn’s First LEED-CI Certification

Wharton has earned Penn’s first certification under LEED for Commerical Interiors at the new Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall café, Joe’s Café (named for our founder, Joseph Wharton). We earned Gold-level certification as well as two innovation credits rooted in Operations and Maintenance: one for green cleaning and one for sustainable cafe operations focused on waste diversion and composting and local/organic/healthy food options. Congratulations to the project team!

Check out our LEED Checklist here. Our innovation credits came from Operations and Maintenance principles and took a page out of the LEED-EB:OM handbook. One was for Cafe Green Cleaning, which focused on minimization of cleaning chemicals and processes, integrated tracking systems and green chemicals where necessary. To learn more, see our green cleaning section.

The other innovation credit focused on Sustainable Cafe Operations. This credit had two components: waste diversion and sustainable food. The waste diversion part pledged to divert 50% of total cafe waste from landfills. This would be done by pre- and post-consumer composting and recycling. We promised to audit the waste stream annually to ensure compliance. The sustainable food portion involves the purchase of food and drink that is produced seasonally and within 150 miles of the site, hormone and antiobiotic-free meat and dairy, vegetarian-fed beef, Certified Humane eggs, fish sourced using the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines, dolphin-safe tuna and Fair Trade and Certified Organic coffee. Food will be fresh and prepared daily from scratch. The cafe does not use trans fat, peanut oil or MSG, provides vegetarian options and will serve entrees with portion control in mind.

Au Bon Pain Offers Incentive to Reduce Disposable Cup Waste

Within the Wharton Complex there are three cafes, all currently occupied by Au Bon Pain restaurants. Au Bon Pain has agreed to offer a discount of up to 37% for patrons who bring their own refillable coffee mug. Refills cost $1.19 plus tax compared to $1.89 for a large coffee with disposable cup.

On April 22, 2010, Wharton Operations celebrated Earth Day 2010 by conducting a comprehensive waste stream audit at Jon M. Huntsman Hall. This audit will allow us to take a sophisticated and informed approach to waste reduction and diversion within the building, and will provide data on the potential and parameters for composting.

Recycling and waste consultants, Niche Recycling, sorted waste from a 24-hour period to determine total volume, effectiveness of our recycling program, contamination levels within materials currently separated for recycling and levels of recyclables disposed as trash. Separate focus will be on food waste from both cafés and restroom paper towel waste to assess composting potential. Niche Recycling provided an assessment of our waste programs and supply strategies and recommendations for improvement.

In April 2010, the University-wide recycling rate was about 23 percent of total waste. The Climate Action Plan set a target to increase that to 40 percent campus-wide by 2014.