The University of Pittsburgh began its recycling program in 1990 and it continues to grow at a rapid pace. We are continually developing the idea of being environmentally friendly into a standard practice. Initially, the program only provided for the recycling of higher quality office paper. We have grown over the years to include almost every grade of paper including newsprint and colored paper. Other materials that have been added to the program since its inception are corrugated cardboard, all scrap metals, aluminum and tin cans, plastic containers, yard waste, batteries, fluorescent lamps, and computer monitors. The lamp and computer monitor recycling program as well as all hazardous waste disposal needs are coordinated through the University of Pittsburgh Department of Environmental Health and Safety.
The University of Pittsburgh, Facilities Management Department is responsible for recycling in most academic and athletic affiliated facilities within the Oakland campus. We employ a full time recycling coordinator whose job it is to administer all components of the recycling program as well as facilitate the removal of regular waste and recyclable material. The Recycling Coordinator can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at 412-624-9521. We look forward to hearing from anyone with questions regarding our program, or from anyone with an interest in recycling and the environment. Also, if you would like to offer helpful suggestions on how to improve our current program, please contact us.
This web page is maintained by Facilities Management, and is intended for use by the University community and others interested in our program. Hyperlinks are provided for many sites of recycling and environmental interest. Please provide any feedback to our Recycling Coordinator.
The recycling program is in operation in the following Oakland campus buildings:
|121 University Place||Life Sciences Annex|
|Allegheny Observatory||Law Building|
|Allen Hall||Lawrence Hall|
|Alumni Hall||Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC|
|Barco Law Building||McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine|
|Bellefield Hall||Melwood Maintenance Building|
|Benedum Hall||Mervis Hall|
|Biotechnology Center||Music Building|
|Biomedical Science Tower 3 (BST3||O'Hara Student Center|
|Cathedral of Learning||Petersen Sports Complex|
|Center for Bioengineering||Salk Hall|
|Chevron Science Center||Salk Annex|
|Clapp Hall||Sennott Square|
|Charles L.Cost Sports Center||Space Research Coordination Center (SRCC|
|Craig Hall||Stephen Foster Memorial|
|Crawford Hall||Teachers' Center|
|Eberly Hall||Thackeray Hall|
|Old Engineering Hall||Thaw Hall|
|Eureka Building||Trees Hall|
|Falk School||University Child Development Center|
|Fitzgerald Field House||University Public Safety Building|
|Forbes Tower||Van De Graff Building|
|Frick Fine Arts Building||Victoria Building|
|Gardner Steel Conference Center (GSCC||Wesley W. Posvar Hall|
|Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH||Victoria Building|
|Heinz Chapel||Wesley W. Posvar Hall|
|Hillman Library||William Pitt Union|
|Information Sciences Building (IS)|
For information pertaining to the Recycling initiatives in the Housing Facilities please contact Housing Services at x8-1100 or view their website.
What Is RecycleMania?
RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over a 8-week period, schools report recycling and trash data. The schools are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. With each week’s reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more.
The University of Pittsburgh is one of many Pennsylvania Higher Education institutions participating in the 2020 Recycle Mania Program. 2020 will mark the 12th year of participation in this competition and we are Pitt Proud to help set the pace for the region. Some of the participating schools include Carnegie Mellon; Drexel; Temple; University of Pennsylvania; Villanova. All of these institutions have taken a stance on being a leader in their respective communities to build and develop sustainable practices.
The 2020 program starts January 19, 2020 with a two week pre-season reporting period. The official reporting periods begin on February 2, 2020 and will conclude on March 28, 2020. Look for posters, banners and additional recycling containers throughout the University in housing facilities as well as the general educational and athletic venues.
More information on RecycleMania including the current standings can be found on the RecycleMania website.
Answers to many FAQ's about Recycling at PITT, and recycling in general.
- What can I recycle at Pitt?
- Where do I put my recyclables?
- What if I have a large quantity of recyclables?
- How do I recycle paper?
- How do I recycle bottles and cans?
- How do I recycle cardboard?
- How do I recycle batteries, electronic devices and lamps?
- How do I recycle electronic waste?
- What happens to my recyclables after I dispose of them?
- Why should I even bother to recycle?
- How does recycling save natural resources?
- How does recycling save energy?
- How does recycling help protect our environment?
- How does recycling save landfill space and disposal costs?
- How is recycling good for the economy?
- What is made from recycled paper?
- What is made from aluminum cans?
- What is made from recycled plastic?
- Interesting Recycling Facts
- Sources of Information
- Where does the University's recycling material go?
Recycling at PITT
Here at Pitt, we recycle:
- Mixed office paper (any grade or type of uncoated paper)
- Aluminum cans
- Steel or tin cans
- Plastic containers
- Glass containers
- Scrap metal (aluminum, steel, stainless steel, copper, etc.)
- Leaf and yard waste
- Dry cell batteries (any size or type)
- Wet cell batteries
- Fluorescent lamps (only taken from University buildings)
- Construction and demolition debris (only taken from University projects)
- Carpeting (only taken from University projects)
We provide a variety of containers around campus to handle your recyclable materials:
- Offices and workstations will have a small container for the convenient disposal of recyclable paper only. (Please do not put bottles, cans, or trash in them). These containers are emptied on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Each small container should have a sticker on it which says exactly what can and can’t go in the container. (Click here for the image)
- Larger containers are available for paper, and are marked “Paper Only”. They are also available for bottles and cans, and are marked “Aluminum, Glass, and Plastic”. These containers are emptied daily, and are usually found in common areas, hallways, lobbies, and similar locations.
- Available in some areas, such as the William Pitt Union, are three unit “Recycling Centers”. These units have openings for trash, for paper, and for bottles and cans.
PLEASE USE THE CONTAINERS PROPERLY. DO NOT PUT TRASH INTO THE RECYCLING CONTAINERS.
We have distributed lots of recycling containers for your convenience all over campus. However, if you know of a spot that could use a container, or if you need a container for your work area, let us know by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (412) 624-9521.
If you have a lot of recyclable material, say due to an office cleanup, you can contact us at email@example.com or at (412) 624-9521, and we can provide you with additional containers and arrange a special pickup for you. Also, if you, your department, or your organization want to coordinate a special recycling event, such as a recycling drive, a clean out your office day, or something similar, contact us and we will be happy to help you by providing collection units, and special pickup arrangements.
Most types of paper are recyclable. Paper can be placed in the small individual office or workstation recycling containers, or in the larger containers found in many common areas, hallways, or lobbies. Here is a list of what can and cannot go into a paper only recycling container.
|White paper and colored paper||Wet waste|
|Notebook paper||Plastic or styrofoam|
|Copier paper||Glossy magazines|
|Fax paper||Tissue paper or paper towels|
|Laser printed paper||Carbon Paper|
|Non-glossy pamphlets and flyers||Glass|
|Soft cover books||Wood|
|Computer printout paper||Acetate or plastic sheets|
|Carbonless NCR paper||Tyvek (overnight envelopes)|
|Paper or manila folders||Plastic binding rings|
|Paper envelopes||3 ring binders|
|Adding machine tapes||Hardcover books|
|Writing tablet paper||Photographs|
If you have a large quantity of paper to recycle, you can arrange with your custodial supervisor to have the paper picked up, or contact Pitt Recycling at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (412) 624-9521.
We recycle aluminum beverage cans, tin cans, glass bottles and jars, and plastic containers. These should be placed in containers marked “ALUMINUM, GLASS, AND PLASTIC” which are found in many common areas, hallways, or lobbies. Do not put bottles or cans in your individual workstation recycling container--those are for paper only. Also, bottles and cans should be completely emptied before disposing of them.
Recycling plastics is easy. Read below what types of plastics can be recycled and only put those types of plastics in the container. Resist the temptation to slip plastics that recyclers don’t want into the recycling bin. Plastics have different formulations and have to be sorted before they are recycled to make new products. Mixed plastics can be recycled, but they are not as valuable as sorted plastics because the recycled physical properties of the plastic, such as strength, may vary with each batch. You may leave the paper labels on the container, but throw away the plastic caps. Plastic caps are usually made from a different type of plastic than the container and cannot be easily recycled.
These are the types of plastic containers that are acceptable for recycling:
|Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE)
Common uses: 2 liter soda bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars. This is the most widely recycled plastic and often has redemption value under the California "Bottle Bill."
|Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) which has a #2 on the container and is a tough translucent or pigmented plastic. Acceptable containers include milk and juice jugs, laundry detergent jugs, shampoo and lotion bottles, and yogurt containers.|
|Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Common uses: dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers.|
|Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP) Common uses: bottle caps, drinking straws. Recycling centers almost never take #5 plastic.|
|Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS) Common uses: packaging pellets or "Styrofoam peanuts," cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, to-go "clam shell" containers. Many shipping/packaging stores will accept polystyrene peanuts and other packaging materials for reuse.|
Glass jars and beverage bottles of any color are acceptable for recycling. Please remove any lids from bottles and jars. Window glass or laboratory glass are not acceptable and are handled separately.
If you have a large amount of bottles and cans to recycle, you can arrange with your custodian to have them picked up, or contact Pitt Recycling at email@example.com or at (412) 624-9521.
Cardboard boxes can be placed next to containers marked “PAPER ONLY”. If it is possible for you to do so, please crush cardboard boxes. Most types of cardboard are acceptable, but any cardboard treated with a wax or plastic coating is not acceptable and should be disposed of as trash. If you have a large number of boxes or if you have some boxes that are very heavy, you may arrange with your custodian to have them picked up, or contact Pitt Recycling at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (412) 624-9521. Packing material is currently not recycled by the University. However, there are options for recycling this material through local mailing services. For information please contact you Pitt recycling team.
Send us your old NiCad batteries, or when you have enough, contact Pitt Recycling, and we will arrange to have them picked up at your on campus location. Wet cell batteries and other materials such as scrap metal, computers, and fluorescent tubes can be recycled also, but they require special arrangements for pickup. You can do this by contacting Pitt Recycling at email@example.com, or by calling 412-624-9521.
Collection units have been placed around the campus in both Educational & General facilities as well as various Housing facilities. These containers are for the purpose of recycling batteries, cellular phones as well as IPods. Below is a photo and detailed listing of the selected locations:
- Sutherland Hall – main level entrance
- Tower A – Main lobby entrance
- Lothrop Hall - main lobby entrance
- WPU – Lower Level Forbes Ave. entrance near the custodial supervisor’s office
- Cathedral of Learning – Ground floor near the vending machines
- Benedum Hall – Main lobby 1st floor
- Lawrence Hall – Main entrance vestibule
- Posvar Hall – 1st floor elevator lobby
- Trees Hall – Main Level entrance lobby
- Alan Magee Scaife Hall – 4th floor lobby
- Crawford Hall – 2nd floor entrance lobby
- GSPH – Ground floor lobby
- Bellefield Hall – 2nd floor lobby
- Frick Fine Arts – 1st floor handicapped entrance
- Learning Research and Development (LRDC) – Main entrance 1st floor
- Salk Hall – 2nd floor lounge near the vending machines
- Dental School - Ground floor entrance lobby
- Craig Hall - Main entrance lobby
Electronic Equipment Recycling:
Click here to view full instructions.
Fluorescent lamp recycling:
Click here to view full instructions.
Electronic Waste is unwanted computers, monitors, televisions, audio equipment, printers, laptops, fax machines, telephones, and other electronic equipment.
When electronic equipment breaks or becomes obsolete, it must be properly disposed or recycled. This electronic equipment may contain heavy metals and other materials that can become hazardous to human health and the environment, including:
- Lead: Computer monitors and televisions contain a cathode ray tube (CRT). CRTs contain leaded glass and are the largest source of lead, a poisonous metal, in municipal waste.
- Mercury: Some electronic equipment contains recoverable quantities of mercury, another poisonous metal. • Cadmium: Rechargeable nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries are the largest source of cadmium in municipal waste.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) currently classifies discarded electronic equipment that contains these hazardous materials as characteristic hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
To ensure that unwanted electronic equipment from the University of Pittsburgh is managed in accordance with EPA requirements, please follow the University’s policy and procedure for the disposition of these items (#10-06-04 Surplus Equipment Recycling and Disposal):
- Do not place any electronic equipment in the trash, even if it is broken.
Request a pickup online: fill out a surplus property “pickup request form” or request a pickup by calling surplus property at 412-244-7071.
When you place your recyclables into the proper containers, you have made the first step in closing the loop. Recyclable materials are collected by our University custodians and are stored for collection at designated buildings on campus. Once a week, contracted local recyclers pick up this material and take it to large mills or central collection facilities. The recyclables are then processed into raw materials and made into products that we can purchase again, and hopefully, recycle again, thus closing the loop.
We hear about environmental problems almost daily. Most, such as global warming, waste disposal, deforestation, species endangerment, water pollution, and air pollution, seem so large and complex that we as individuals feel as if we can do nothing about them. At the very least, these problems seem to require group or government intervention. But, there are some things that we as individuals can control. By reducing our waste, and by recycling, every person can make an effective difference. We can make that difference each and every day.
Recycling is an environmentally friendly activity which helps to reduce waste disposal requirements and which promotes the goal of resource sustainability. Sustainability provides for our current resource needs without sacrificing the needs of future generations. Recycling also protects natural resources and it reduces environmental damage caused by mining, logging, and the processing of raw materials. Recycling saves energy because processing recyclable materials generally consumes less energy than the collection, transportation, and processing of raw materials does. Recycling protects our environment because it reduces the demand on landfill space, and it helps to keep our air cleaner. Plus, recycling is good for the economy. Recyclable materials are essentially a national resource. Resources are wealth; wealth creates business; and business, in turn, creates jobs, stimulates the economy, and increases tax revenues.
Beyond recycling, you can help ensure a continuing demand for raw recycled material by buying office paper, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, and other products that are made from recycled material.
If you want to see how every bottle and can, and how every piece of paper that you make the easy effort of putting into a recycling container makes a difference, read on. If you want to know even more, visit some of the interesting links to websites we have provided for you.
So…don’t just say you care about the environment, do something about it: RECYCLE!!!
Our finite reserves of natural resources are being depleted rapidly, particularly with the increasing use of disposable products and packaging. In 2000, U.S. residents, businesses, and institutions produced nearly 232 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste. This is nearly 1 ton of waste per person per year, or approximately 4.5 pounds per person per day, and is up from the 1960 figure of 2.7 pounds per person per day. This rate of use and disposal takes a particularly heavy toll on irreplaceable natural resources such as minerals and petroleum. Reprocessing used materials to make new products and packaging reduces the consumption of natural resources. For instance, every ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 pounds of coal, and 40 pounds of limestone. Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, 22.5 kilowatt hours of electricity, and 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. Plastics production also requires significant quantities of resources, primarily fossil fuels, both as a raw material and as a fuel to provide energy for manufacturing processes. It is estimated that 4% of the world's annual oil production is used as a feedstock for plastics production and an additional 3-4% during manufacture.
The energy required to manufacture paper, plastics, glass, and metal from recycled materials is significantly less than the energy required to produce them from virgin materials. Additionally, providing recycled materials to industry (including collection, processing and transportation) typically uses less energy than supplying virgin materials to industry (including extraction, refinement, transportation and processing).
Processing raw materials makes heavy demands on energy resources. About 3% of the energy consumption in the U.S. is used for producing packaging alone. Reprocessing used materials reduces energy needs for mining, refining, and many manufacturing processes. Recycling paper cuts the energy required to manufacture paper from virgin pulp in half. Every pound of steel recycled saves enough energy to light a 60-watt bulb for over 24 hours. Recycling used aluminum cans requires only about five percent of the energy needed to produce aluminum from bauxite. Recycling a ton of glass saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil. Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for roughly 4 hours.
Manufacturing goods from recycled materials typically requires less energy than producing goods from raw or virgin materials. When people reuse goods, or when products are made with less raw material, less energy is needed to extract, transport, and process raw materials, and less energy is required to manufacture products. When energy demand decreases, fewer fossil fuels are burned and less carbon dioxide and other pollutants are emitted into the atmosphere. Recycling keeps materials out of landfills where they can introduce contaminants into groundwater systems. Recycling and waste prevention divert materials from incinerators which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, ash, and other pollutants caused by waste combustion. Recycling, composting, and diverting organic wastes from landfills reduce the methane that would be released if these materials decomposed in a landfill. Recycling also increases the storage of carbon in forests. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in wood in a process called carbon sequestration. Recycling paper products and waste prevention allow more trees to remain standing in the forest where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Before Pennsylvania’s Recycling Law (Act 101) was passed in 1988, about 97% of the state’s municipal waste was landfill. The per capita waste generation rate was increasing, largely due to disposable consumer goods and excess packaging. We were depleting landfill capacity at an alarming rate. One of the goals of Act 101 is to recycle at least 35% of Pennsylvania’s municipal waste by 2003. Recycling and reducing waste clearly save landfill space. Given the recent growth of recycling technology and the creation of new recycled products, manufacturing techniques, and ways to recycle more materials, it may be possible to recycle as much as 60% of our municipal waste stream. Some estimates put the figure as high as 80%.
The combination of landfill closings, the increasing demand for disposal sites, and the need to haul wastes to disposal sites farther away from the point of origin has led to increased disposal costs. In 2002 the national average landfill tipping fee was $34 per ton, while average incinerator tipping fee was $59 per ton. That is triple of what the national average fees were in 1986. Here in Pennsylvania, a net importer of waste, average landfill tipping fees in 2002 were $44 per ton, and average incineration fees were $74 per ton. That is double of what they were in 1986. While recycling will not reduce disposal rates, it will reduce the amount of waste that we have to landfill or incinerate. Recycling saves money in terms of avoided disposal costs.
According to a 1999 study by the National Recycling Coalition, the recycling and reuse industry consists of approximately 56,000 establishments that employ over 1.1 million people, generate an annual payroll of nearly $37 billion, and gross over $236 billion in annual revenues. This represents a significant force in the U.S. economy and makes a vital contribution to job creation and economic development. In Pennsylvania alone, the Department of Environmental Protection estimates that the recycling industry employs over 81,000 people, generates an annual payroll of $2.9 billion, and $18.4 billion in annual revenues. Recycling is a growth industry with many kinds of business opportunities, from waste management, to manufacturing, to the invention of new technologies. New businesses will create more jobs, produce more income, and improve our economy. Also, manufacturers who produce consumer goods and packaging with recycled content are able to reduce their needs for raw materials and energy. They need less equipment, and require fewer power plants, refineries, and processing plants. They rely less on foreign imports such as petroleum. By reducing pollution risks, manufacturers reduce the need for pollution controls. Overall, recycling saves money for both manufacturers and their customers.
Recycled paper is used to make other paper products. It is difficult to tell the difference between paper made from recycled material and paper made from virgin pulp. In fact, almost all paper has some recycled content to it. Despite the fact that there is a strong market for it, paper is the item most frequently encountered in municipal landfills. Actually, paper accounts for more than 40 percent of a landfill's contents. This proportion has held steady for decades and in some landfills it has actually risen. Newspapers alone can take up as much as 13 percent of the space in US landfills.
Some of the products made from recycled paper are:
- Office paper
- Notebook paper
- Cereal boxes
- Cardboard boxes
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
Aluminum can recycling began in 1968 and has become a billion dollar industry and one of the world’s most successful environmental enterprises. Aluminum can recycling saves 95% of the energy needed to make aluminum from bauxite ore, the primary source of raw aluminum. This means it takes considerably less energy to recycle aluminum than to extract it from the earth and process it to make a can. In addition to making more raw aluminum, three-quarters of the aluminum cans that are recycled go into making more aluminum cans. Truly recyclable, the aluminum can returns to the grocer's shelf in as little as 90 days after collection, re-melting, rolling, manufacturing and distribution. This means you could conceivably buy the same recycled can every 13 weeks or 4 times a year.
Plastic products make up about 11% of the nation's waste stream by weight, but make up about 24% by volume. Packaging and containers comprise an estimated 56% of all plastics waste. Three-quarters of that comes from households. Roughly 50% of all litter is plastic. Various estimates indicate that only around 5% of total plastic waste is currently being recycled. This is unfortunate because plastic is highly reusable and can be made into a wide variety of products.
Some of the products made from recycled plastic are:
- Recycled plastic lumber
- Composite roofing
- Plastic containers
- Traffic cones
- Flooring and window frames
- Building insulation board
- Fencing and garden furniture
- Fiber filling for jackets and sleeping bags
- Plastic shopping and trash bags
- In 2004 Pitt recycled 553 tons of paper and cardboard. This saved 9400 trees, 210,000 gallons of oil, nearly 4 million gallons of water, over 1,600 cubic yards of landfill space, and over 2,200 megawatt hours of energy. That’s enough energy to power the average American home for 230 years.
- Every year more than 900 million trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills.
- Americans use more than 67 million tons of paper per year, or about 580 pounds per person.
- In 1993, Americans recycled 59.5 billion aluminum cans, 3 billion more than in 1991, and raised the national aluminum can recycling rate to 2 out of every 3 cans. Aluminum can recycling saves 95% of the energy needed to make aluminum from bauxite ore. Energy savings in 1993 alone were enough to light a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years.
- If Americans recycled all the aluminum they throw away it would be enough aluminum to build the entire consumer airline fleet four times every year.
- Glass never wears out...it can be recycled forever. Over 41 billion glass containers are made each year. Every day Americans recycle about 13 million glass bottles and jars.
- According to the Beverage Marketing Corp, the average American consumed 1.6 gallons of bottled water in 1976. In 2006 that number jumped to 28.3 gallons.
- Today, 80 percent of Americans have access to a plastics recycling program.
- More than 2.3 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2007. Although the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every year since 1990, the actual recycling rate remains steady at around 24 percent.
- In 2007, more than 325 million pounds of wide-mouth plastic containers were recovered for recycling. (This included deli containers, yogurt cups, etc.)
- In recent years, the number of U.S. plastics recycling business has nearly tripled. More than 1,600 businesses are involved in recycling post-consumer plastics.
- Plastics in the U.S. are made primarily (70 percent) from domestic natural gas.
- Plastic bags and product wraps (known collectively as “plastic film”) are commonly recycled at the many collection programs offered through major grocery stores.
- Recycling one ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.
- During Keep America Beautiful’s 2008 Great American Cleanup, volunteers recovered and recycled 189,000,000 PET (plastic) bottles that had been littered along highways, waterways and parks.
More interesting recycling facts can be found in links provided.
Annually, the University conducts a tour for select students to tour a Material Recovery Facility (MRF). These MRF’s are responsible for receiving the collected material; sorting the material and also brokering the material to help off-set the cost of the recycling programming. These tours typically occur in conjunction with the start of the RecycleMania Program every year as part of the Universities Recycling Week sponsored by our student body.
As you can see the material that you recycle is just a piece of the puzzle. The sustainable goals of the University are achievable with your support. Together we complete the puzzle!